Scattered Clouds’ newest song “Justice” will make your stomach drop, but you won’t be able to look away.
Inspired by the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi at the hands of Ottawa, Canada police, “Justice” feels like panic. The fuzzed guitar, echoing vocals and heart-dropping beats are paired with intense imagery of flying creatures with tentacles for heads or slivering arms punching away to threatening strobe. This song will make you feel vulnerable and helpless all in one, an effect that’s very deliberate.
“’Justice’ is a minimalist and abstract interpretation of the abuse of power rampant in the police force,” Scattered Clouds frontman Philippe Charbonneau tells BTRtoday. “It depicts this monstrous figure that symbolizes how some communities have come to fear the ones that should be there to serve and protect.”
The track was recorded live with only vocal overdubs, a change from their usual recording routine. “We wanted it to be raw and very punk,” he says. “We always try to pay very close attention to mistakes while jamming or in the studio because most of the times mistakes offer us a window of new ideas that otherwise would have never been explored in a rigid creative process.”
Read the entire interview below and be the first to watch the video for “Justice” (animated by Joel Vaudreuil) below.
Scattered Clouds, “Justice”
BTRtoday (BTR): Let’s just go straight into talking about this video ’cause I love it so much—what’s the overall concept behind it?
Philippe Charbonneau (PC): “Justice” is a minimalist and abstract interpretation of the abuse of power rampant in the police force. It depicts this monstrous figure that symbolizes how some communities have come to fear the ones that should be there to serve and protect.
BTR: Who did the animation?
PC: Joel Vaudreuil. He’s a super talented Canadian animator and musician from Montréal, Québec. His francophone projects “Le diable (comme l’outil)” and “Avec pas d’casque” are both most definitely worth a listen.
BTR: Was there an idea that sparked the making of this video?
PC: The lyrics speak for themselves and we trusted Joel to interpret them in a visual medium. We’ve been mutual admirers of each others for some time so when the opportunity came to get some accompanying visuals to ‘Justice’, collaborating with Joel made perfect sense. With his approach he was able to capture the industrial rawness of the track.
BTR: Tell me about the song “Justice.” What was writing it like?
PC: The writing process for most of our tracks always takes unexpected turns. We always try to pay very close attention to mistakes while jamming or in the studio because most of the times mistakes offer us a window of new ideas that otherwise would have never been explored in a rigid creative process.
In the case of “Justice,” we wrote a super loose home demo with a drum machine and analog synths. Initially, it sounded like a Cold Wave track from the early ’80s. We then brought it to our practice space and Michael John Dubue, who co-produced our record, picked up the electric bass and plugged it in a Fairfield Circuitry Unpleasant Fuzz pedal—it’s this out-of-control fuzz [pedal] that’s made locally here in Hull, and it’s undoubtedly the signature sound of this track. Unlike a lot of our songs that are very produced, this one was recorded live off the floor with only vocal overdubs.
We wanted it to be raw and very punk.
BTR: Are there any personal real-life influences that went into this song?
PC: While the stories are based on true events, they are fictional. We like to tell stories and talk about political and social issues through the lens of fictional characters. In “Justice” the narrator addresses a murderous vigilante character that is being persecuted by the people that used to look up to him as a hero. It’s an allusion to the relationship that we’re forced to develop with the current police system and points to the growing culture of violence and prejudice rampant in the police force. The police act as vigilantes and breed fear instead of security in communities. “Justice” was inspired by the tragic 2016 murder of Abdirahman Abdi by police constables Daniel Montsion and Dave Weir in Ottawa, Canada.
BTR: Who are some of the band’s inspirations?
PC: In many ways, the cinema is the biggest source of inspiration for our band. For this record, we drew from a lot of 1980s dystopian sci-fi films. Composers like Brad Fiedel (Terminator), Vangelis (Blade Runner) and John Carpenter (Escape from New York) were big inspirations for us.
Also, more contemporary records like Liars’ Drums Not Dead and Portishead’s Third come to mind as having a big impact on our music. We create music somewhat cerebrally, having conversations surrounding what type of mood we’re aiming to capture and how that influences previous and forthcoming sections.
BTR: Is there something specific you want listeners to get from this song?
PC: “Justice” is meant to be jarring. It’s raw, aggressive and unapologetically in your face. It should disturb you.
BTR: Tell me about this upcoming album. Did you guys dabble in anything new?
PC: We’re very slow-moving when it comes to creating a record. Songs often come together in the rehearsal room, but then are stripped away and reconstructed in post-production to create a sonic environment that is more deliberate than just the sum of playing our instruments in rehearsal. For this record we wanted to build the songs from the drums up. For example, we tracked some songs with two and sometimes even three drummers. Using drums as a basis for composition offered really interesting ideas in song building. We recorded most of the drums separately and with no cymbals to be able to freely edit and re-sample them as we liked. Although new to us, methods like these have been frequently used since the 80s notably with Phil Collins on Peter Gabriel’s third album.
BTR: What are you excited for in the future of Scattered Clouds?
PC: The release of new music and videos. We’ve collaborated with some incredible artists to create accompanying videos for several of the songs for our new record. These collaborations pair visuals with our music to create profound new experiences with the songs that help to point to the cinematic reference that inspired them in the first place, which is very exciting and exactly what we hoped to accomplish with these tracks.