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Scene from "Escape Artist," by The Zolas. (Courtesy of the artist)

First Watch: The Zolas, 'Escape Artist'

Feb 26, 2013

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Robin Hilton

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In "Escape Artist," the new video from Canadian pop duo The Zolas, the band plays around with audience expectations about race, culture and sexuality. As frontman Zach Gray sings about his mysterious alter ego, a group of kids kick around their neighborhood, playing basketball, chatting up girls and passing the hours. One of them clearly feels like an outsider.

While the lyrics to "Escape Artist" are a bit cryptic, Gray says he was trying to explore the inner struggle everyone has with alternate identities. "I was writing about the feeling of having a more vivid version of yourself suppressed inside you. There's a version of us that says 'yes' to everything and seeks out little adventures and has a healthy disregard for dumb rules, and every time that person gets close to the skin, the other part of us goes "Whoa, whoa. Can't we just chill out tonight?"

The specific story, as it's told in the video, was conceived by filmmakers Kevan Funk and Benjamin Loeb. "We wanted to create a fully formed dramatic story," Funk tells us in an email. "Something that could stand alone on its own terms as well being a complimentary piece to the song. Zach really placed his faith in us and essentially gave as total creative control over the video, something which as a filmmaker is very liberating and, I think, allows you to do much more interesting work."

"Escape Artist" appears on The Zolas' latest album, Ancient Mars.

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