Apr 15, 2021
By Joey Arnone
Sarah Neufeld, violinist for Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, has shared a video for her new song “The Top.” It will be featured on her upcoming album Detritus, out on May 14 via Paper Bag. Watch the video, directed by Bell Orchestre bandmate and award-winning filmmaker Kaveh Nabatian, below. Also, Arcade Fire has just shared a 45-minute piece of music titled “Memories of the Age of Anxiety” for the meditation and sleep app Headspace. Check out a snippet on Instagram.
The video was shot at The Boiler in Brooklyn while Neufeld was eight months pregnant. She states in a press release that “during the COVID era build up to the release of Detritus, it felt necessary to create a performance video. It’s been a lonely year, and a year without performing live or having much connection with collaborators and bandmates. I needed to capture the essence of what I do, what drives me as a musician, and communicate that. As much a way of engaging with myself as with my listeners: Here we are, still breathing and playing and listening to music.
“‘The Top’ is an emblem of my soloistic performance and writing style. The piece came together one melodic puzzle fragment at a time, written on my instrument while playing, repeating phrases over until fluid and calling toward the next unfolding passage. Performing ‘The Top’ is at once trance-like and difficult; one off-putting thought easily throws the whole thing off the rails. It was the first brick in the album. The only piece without drums or other instrumentation, it’s just me, centered in the whirlwind of my own creation. ‘The Top’ represents change, and the struggle in making peace with oneself.
“Shooting the video in January with my long time bandmate and filmmaker Kaveh Nabatian, there was another element overwhelmingly present. I was nearly eight months pregnant. I didn’t want to anchor the piece in that reality too much, because that’s not where the music came from. But in the connectedness and continuation of all things, it made sense for me to put myself out there in that big life moment. I’m a craver of challenge and intensity, so pulling off a 14 hour day on my feet in heels, in my changed body, dressed in clothing that didn’t hide, and performing one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever written over and over and over again, felt right, a bit scary, and ultimately very good.
“I’ve long held (limiting) beliefs about what becoming a mother would or could ‘do to me’ as an artist. I know I’m not alone in that. This video also represents a manifestation of self that includes multiplicities; artist, performer, striver, mother, mover. A vulnerable human in a moment of massive transition.”
Nabatian adds: “Tension and release, movement and stillness, the promise of new life in a decrepit industrial space. A pregnant musician’s striking performance transforms from enigmatic to emotional. Starting as a hauntingly lit figure playing music in a cavernous boiler room, we gradually move closer to her, both physically and emotionally, until we are inches from her face, seeing memories and dreams in her mind.”