As everyone well remembers, 2020 was far from being a fun year. Beyond the tragedies of deaths, illnesses, entire lives altered forever, and an adjustment to a ‘new normal’, the brightest and darkest parts of humanity showed themselves through various lenses, for better and worse. There was plenty to be upset about, much to grieve, and even more to write about and express; even to date, much of the worldwide traumas experienced during that year remain unresolved or forces to cope with. For me, personally, however – 2020 did have at least one really good discovery that remains golden to me every day. As such, today we feature none other than Vision Video as this week’s Weekly Featured Artist!
Began in the borders of Athens, GA (a city and state known for well-renowned acts such as R.E.M., Of Montreal, and The B-52’s, just to name a few), Vision Video are a band that encapsulate all the things we know and love about goth music in one place. Describing themselves as ‘dance music for the end times‘ via their Facebook bio as well as on other social media platforms, the goth pop, post-punk quintet instantly won me (and many, many others) over with their singles, “Inked in Red” and “In My Side” upon the release of each during the spring and summer of 2020. What would be more fitting for a time as chaotic and devastating than some awesome, gothy, well-produced, dancey, apocalyptic post-punk? Not much else that this writer could think of!
Dusty: ‘We formed around the nucleus of the Athens service industry. I was bartending at the Georgia Theatre music venue, and Jason was a bar-back. Jason plays in a punk band called Shehehe that I’ve always enjoyed so he invited me to come put some of my guitar ideas down with his drumming. Dan heard about what we were doing so he joined shortly thereafter. Emily was a bartender in another bar downtown, and she came to see our first show. We were looking for a keyboardist to add to the roster so she joined a couple weeks after that!‘
Nonetheless, “Inked in Red” was my first impression of the band, and as much as I adore all they have released since, has remained a favorite in their discography so far. But three years past this point, needless to say, the band has been extremely busy, and the results speak for themselves – as they released the full-length LP, Inked in Red, in 2021, as well as the incredible follow-up, Haunted Hours, in 2022. Not to mention, their presence has been both well-received and sought after amongst all those who enjoy anything from The Smiths or The Cure over to acts like Siouxsie & The Banshees and Sisters of Mercy. They have also accomplished a number of tours and other huge live performances, including festivals such as Terminus in Calgary, Canada, Dark Force Fest in Parsippany, NJ, and plenty more.
A song as upbeat as it is emotional, “Inked in Red” takes you back to the goth greats of the ’80s and ’90s, while presenting its own, fresh, current take on the state of affairs, both here in the United States and elsewhere. All throughout their debut LP by the same name, you catch these very same hints and nods to the traditions of what makes shoegaze, post-punk, and goth music such an alluring, monumental, intoxicating mix of genres, while still being the band’s very own original path cut and followed by many who likewise recognize the sincerity of their craft. Haunted Hours only expands upon Vision Video‘s sermon, with perhaps a wider congregation eager to know what’s next. Tracks like “Transmission”, “Beautiful Day to Die”, and “Nothing Changes” hit visceral points of discussion as expressed by vocalist and guitarist Dusty Gannon, who has stated before that the band serves as a sort of outlet for various traumas, frustrations, viewpoints, and experiences seen, heard, and felt throughout his life.
Dusty: ‘Musically we take a lot of direct influence from the obvious ones: the Chameleons, the Cure, the Smiths, the Sound, the Cult etc. But we also have a lot of ’80s punk influence, like the Replacements, the Clash, Dead Kennedys. I like to take a lot of influence from film as well – a lot of what I’m working on right now has some ties to horror films especially.‘
Some of these experiences include his time as a soldier in the United States military. As if his graceful, haunting, yet angelic voice weren’t enough to soothe you like a nice anesthetic against the painful horrors of a world that sometimes feels set against us, Emily Freedock joins in both synthetic atmosphere crafted by way of her keyboard duties, as well as harmonizing (and on certain songs, such as “Comfort in the Grace” off the Inked in Red record, going all lead on the vocals) alongside Dusty, creating yet another angelic layer of voicing to truly round out the visceral soundscape. The final product, each and every time, creates something that transcends ‘just another great modern goth band’ to my ears. Vision Video taps directly into the senses, resonating notes, melodies, rhythms, and sonatas into an almost physical manifestation that you can feel in your nervous system.
Beyond their sheer relatability in their message, however, the band remains active on social media, pushing charities, releasing fun reels featuring Dusty as his ‘Goth Dad’ persona, and often times recounting personal experiences that make bold and encouraging points on social injustices, mental health, goth subculture, and just overall positive takeaways that audiences across all their platforms (be it TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, or elsewhere) can attest as a reflection of the band’s genuine connection to their fans. In short, Vision Video, isn’t just here to look sexy on camera and in music videos, or just sing pretty songs to you; they’re in this for real. Their purpose, beyond the wonderful music they’ve written, involves truly making a positive change in the world around them, and giving an inclusive community to those willing to follow the band that says ‘Yes, you are one of us, you can sit with us, and we do really care about you.‘
Having had a chance to catch the band live in November of last year, 2022, I got to witness, first hand, the level of energy and cohesion Vision Video consistently bring to any stage that welcomes them. Once again, beyond their music just being awesome, their personalities as a whole make for the icing on the cake as a solid collective of musicians and people in general, both recorded and live. Whether it be Dusty’s calls to action between songs, funny jokes made between him and Emily, crowd interactions, or even moments where vocal lead roles are switched up (as was the case for a Siouxsie & The Banshees cover they performed), this band is a whole experience that doesn’t miss a beat. Joined by Asheville post-punkers Secret Shame for the tour, as well as Richmond, VA rockers and genre-benders Railgun as the opening local act, the bill practically sold itself both on hype and nonstop vibes. But the spirit left with all of us after Vision Video‘s set that night was immaculate.
Recently, the band has released a new single entitled “Normalized”, which seems to touch on themes of how society tends to simply turn its head away or exhibit a dangerous level of apathy to horrific events, even when they happen right in front of us. A fitting title, the lyrics touch on how normalized trauma seems to be in the daily life of most these days. The chorus will quickly get stuck in your head, but the message is no less evident and boldly presented. This is just another example of how direct the band is with their songwriting, while keeping things catchy and memorable on a different sort of subliminal level; rather than being hypnotized into some cheesy corporate trope of just ignoring your feelings, Vision Video brings them right to the forefront to be addressed, accepted, and maybe even danced to, as if you’re given a sort of goth pop therapeutic means of coping with them.
‘Don’t look – close your eyes,
Make believe that everything’s alright.
Don’t look – close your eyes,
These atrocities are normalized.‘
Needless to say, “Normalized” feels familiar with a theme of the band in hard-hitting lyrics paired with upbeat post-punk instrumentals and catchy vocal melodies. But, if this is any semblance of what is to come on the next full-length, we are, no doubt, in for another absolute treat. Even in following these similar characteristics in their music in any way, intentional or not, Vision Video continues to be a breath of fresh air, pulling no punches and remaining a powerful force on the radar with each release. Not to mention, this particular single is only a couple days old, having dropped October 6th of this year, 2023, and just in time to be in regular rotation on every Spooky Season playlist out there.
So what is it that makes Vision Video so special? Well, many things – their music is great, their presence is awesome, their personalities are strong, and their message is clear. But what I perceive of this band is they are a monument to genuine expression in all different levels of art; visually, sonically, physically, and spiritually. They encompass the very essence of what it means, based on what I do know of the subculture of course, to be ‘goth’ and a part of said subculture. That admiration for the misunderstood, the inclusive community and space it provides for those either alienated or under-represented simply because of some silly set of societal rejections that try to tell them they aren’t ‘normal’, and the idea of taking the morbid and dark things in life and converting them into something beautiful and cathartic – these are the things that make the goth community truly thrive; no place for bigotry, abuse, creeps, etc.
As Dusty points out, speaking with Unclear Mag in an interview with the band from 2022, expression and attaining the ability to create doesn’t have to follow any strict set of rules. He makes a strong point of this in reference to his learning of playing guitar:
‘I think that sometimes it’s really good to learn that way because you don’t know the rules so you break all the rules, and you kind of create your own way of doing things. And if it works, it works. And I think that’s honestly one of the most awesome things about music, is that it’s universal. You don’t have to be classically trained or super traditionally proficient to make music.‘
…expanding on the point made of creating purely…
‘If you make sound with anything that moves people, physically and emotionally through that sonic medium, then that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter if you’re not some guitar player who can’t shred, or drummer who’s just absolutely precise all the time. What really matters to me with music in general is music is a medium that transmits a message. And if I’m trying to evoke something, or convey something to you, what really matters is does that emotion or that sentiment or that message, does that get conveyed to you through the medium? Everything else is kind of secondary in my opinion.‘
Vision Video are a work of art as a band, plain and simple. If somehow you’ve missed out on the band up to this point, there’s no better time than now to immerse yourself in a realm crafted by musical minds that have been welcoming you this whole time. The band reminds us that even in our worst, darkest, most painful days, there’s always something positive that can come out of it in some way, and always a beat to dance to that will help get us through. On that note, be sure to follow and stream their music via Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp! You will not regret it.
Vision Video is…
Dusty Gannon (AKA ‘Goth Dad’) – guitar, vocals
Emily Freedock – keys, vocals
Dan Geller – bass
Jason Fusco – drums