NYC-based dance-pop artist, Michael Tapper
, who was the previous drummer of We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen, Fool’s Gold and Yellow Ostrich, has a new project: Practice. Today, he announces his forthcoming album, Not A Game, and shares his first single and video, “The Afterlife.” The song acts as the counterpart — the yin to the yang — of previously released single, “Sleep In My Clothes,” which was about sinking into the melancholy of isolation. “The Afterlife” is about embracing life the way it is and the way it’s not.
The accompanying video for “The Afterlife” was made in collaboration with Hawaii-based artist Micah Grasse and his dog George ‘Data’ Chooney (RIP). A trippy, fuzzy, glimmering dreamworld of ocean and clouds open up, as Tapper surfs through sea and sky. Rainbows and skulls shine, sailboats float peacefully and palm trees dance in the wind. A close-up on Tapper’s face shows a blinking third eye before he seamlessly multiplies and keeps on surfing into the sunset.
The songs and videos for both singles were made pre-2020 madness, and yet the themes of isolation and self-quarantine root them (maybe too much) into current reality. Reflecting on it now, he adds, “‘Sleep In My Clothes” sort of how you might feel on a bad day in quarantine. But you know, sometimes connecting with a song that speaks to how you’re feeling when you’re down can feel good, too, like commiserating. And in the end, it’s kind of sad but kind of hopeful about wanting to make the world better, even if you feel kinda helpless to do so.”
Tapper says, “The vibe of “The Afterlife” video is how I feel on a good day — afraid, but surfin’ though it, facing reality.” He adds, “Even though I had written these songs and made the videos well before this pandemic, that made sense to me because I wrote each during an intense period of isolation and uncertainty. I wrote “Sleep In My Clothes” just after I had quit my old band, which had been my job and career, holed up in an apartment in an unfamiliar city. It’s about remembering a time when you would get up and go out the door and be a go-getter, and now you get up and don’t really have anywhere to go or anything to do and you want to escape, but you’re at a loss.
“The Afterlife” is about the feelings I had when I was stuck on this small sailboat for a month out in the middle of the ocean, completely cut off from civilization and everything — a thousand miles from anywhere, nothing but a desert of water. The music is a continuous, rolling, repetitive beat and bass line that never changes, never stops, never goes to another part, much like the waves rocking the boat at sea. I was getting up every day and looking around being like, “what the fuck is happening?” but just doing what I could to keep going through it, facing reality and carrying on.”
He adds, “So in some ways, the two songs [“Sleep In My Clothes and “The Afterlife”] are two sides of the same coin, and the common thread happens to be what a lot of us have been dealing with recently during this time of isolation, uncertainty and fear. Hopefully people can hear the songs and watch the videos and feel like they are not alone in their aloneness and loneliness.”
This year has been hard on everyone, of course, and Tapper is no stranger to the impact of COVID-19. He says, “Like everyone, coronavirus has upended my life and consumed probably the majority of my waking energy for the past month or so. My wife is a doctor in Manhattan, so we started quarantining before most people (when she’s not at work), concerned that she might bring it home from the hospital and not wanting to spread it to our friends or neighborhood. Our fears were founded because we did get it early, but thankfully our symptoms were mild. During this quarantine time, I was able to finish up preparing this music videos for release. As I showed it to a few people, one friend mentioned that it embodies things we’re feeling during this isolation period. As one friend put it: “the vibe of the “Sleep In My Clothes” video is how I feel on a bad day during this quarantine — crying my mascara off (if I even had the will to put any on).”
Other than his naked backside, the video also features Tapper’s beard, which did in fact, receive MTV’s Beard of the Year” award for 2005 and 2006. Psychedelic distortion in reality through color, and texture echo the song it’s with a mixture of sadness and hope and hinges on an absurd, dreamlike vibe.
On the video, he adds: “The video starts very literally with me waking up in all of my clothes and walking out the door, which is the first verse of the song, but then takes it a step further by diving into a pool fully clothed. Later, the character experiences a sort of baptismal rebirth transformation, ending up completely naked, which is a literal reference to the lyrics but also a metaphor for honesty and vulnerability, which is what’s happening lyrically at the same time.”
He adds. “I always like the image of people jumping into the water in all of their clothes as if it’s completely normal, just because it feels so wrong. Surprisingly, the thing that felt most wrong about swimming fully clothed was having socks on. There’s something extra wrong about that. I also liked making a scenario where being naked is actually the correct way to be as opposed to being fully clothed, because in almost any other real-world situation, being fully clothed is not only the norm but if you’re naked you’ll go to jail.”