Video premiere: Geographer, ‘Slave to the Rhythm’

Geographer (Photo by Monica Reyes)

It was a year ago that Geographer unveiled the first of his album “Down and Out in the Garden of Earthly Delights,” which promises to be precisely the opus its title suggests. But a funny thing happened on the way to its release, originally planned for December 2020: Nettwerk signed Geographer.

So the album, the first full-length from mastermind Mike Deni since 2015, will be out later this year, exact date TBA.

Deni, whose pop is known for its marriage of electronic and organic instrumentation, has said the album was “an attempt to re-center myself creatively” and push boundaries. Its creation followed moving from his longtime base in San Francisco, couch-surfing for six months and planting roots in L.A. in the fall of 2018. His travels, including revisiting his native state, inspired 2019’s “New Jersey” EP.

“Slave to the Rhythm” — a song about the compulsive nature of being an artist — is the lead track on the new album. And Geographer’s intimate, DIY video for the song is a product of the COVID-19 lockdown … and a little magic inspired from Monica Reyes, his girlfriend.

“Right at the start of lockdown last spring I remember thinking, OK, this is going to last two, three weeks tops, so why don’t I make the most of it? I wrote an ambient song every day, I did a live stream every week, took up painting,” Deni says. “I think a lot of people did that. But I was just in a very creative mindset. And I was also falling in love.

“My now-girlfriend, who is the woman dancing in the video, was with me at my tiny apartment when the lockdown was issued, and I just sort of said, ‘Do you …want to just stay here?” Because we knew we wouldn’t be able to see each other again if she left. We had gone on maybe two dates, and we really liked each other, but we just took a leap of faith. A decision you would never make under normal circumstances. Two dates, and then ‘Hey, you wanna live with me in my cramped apartment in the backyard of a couple in their 90s?’ So lockdown really accelerated our falling in love.

“And I remember one night, we were in this artistic mindset, listening to Big Thief, and she just started dancing around the apartment. So I picked up her camera and started chasing her around and it was kind of like a scene from a romantic comedy, except it was real. And the end result was so charming, you just can’t fake that kind of connection between the subject and the camera.

“So we decided to wake up early the next day and re-create it for ‘Slave to the Rhythm.’ She barely even had listened to the song so I was yelling out to her the different sections, like ‘BIG!’ and ‘STOP!’ It was the first take, all her dancing was improvised, it was one shot, and it’s such a great document of that time. It’s basically two people just bravely falling in love, not really knowing each other very well, but trusting each other, and being vulnerable, and working it out. I remember being so inspired by her willingness to just go for it, to trust in herself and her ability to pull it off, to just be a person, it was beautiful.”

||| Watch: The video for “Slave to the Rhythm”

||| Previously: “The Other Side,” “Alibi,” “Slave to the Rhythm,” “When Will I Belong,” “Just Wanna Dance,” “Summer of My Discontentment”