In 2014, a video from the grassroots activist organization Hollaback! titled “10 Hours of Walking in New York as a Woman” went viral, calling attention to the prevalence of catcalls and the intensity of street harassment. The video caused controversy for its subject matter and also drew criticism for race and class bias, especially once it was revealed that filming took place predominantly in minority neighborhoods.
No matter how poorly “10 Hours” was executed (notably, the actress in the film filed a lawsuit against the producers after receiving threats), its images and those of similar clips such as Jessica Williams’ Daily Show segment detailing catcalls on her morning commute, and a parody of “10 Hours” featuring a woman who talks back to her catcallers have stayed in the public mind—the sad reality is that most women can identify with how it feels to be on the receiving end of street harassment.
For their new video for Ephrata’s “Odds,”the lead track of their recently released self-titled EP, the Seattle dream pop quartet takes inspiration from these anti-street harassment campaigns and gives them a new twist—the woman walking in their version is Karleena Gore, a well-known Seattle-area stuntwoman and pro wrestler. As for what happens, let’s just say that if every cat-caller imagined Gore’s response before saying something obscene or invading someone’s personal space, the rates of street harassment would sharply decline.
Ephrata has been a mainstay in Seattle’s rock community since it formed in 2011 but its members’ creative talents extend beyond music alone; bassist Jules Jones and guitarist Brady Hall are filmmakers—between the two of them, they’ve scored films, written a rock opera, and produced videos for Tim McGraw, Def Leppard, and Vivian Girls. Naturally, their visual sensibilities have had an impact on their development as a band. “There is absolutely a cinematic/theatrical aesthetic coming from our half of the band that has a unique sonic influence,” Jones says. “Being screenwriters, I think there’s also an innate storytelling component that we can’t divorce from our music—both lyrically and musically. The words are a story, and the journey through different parts of the song and the way that harmonies, melodies, and countermelodies build and evolve are also a story. Sometimes the music and lyrics are telling a parallel story—more often, they are telling conflicting stories.”
With shimmery guitar tones, twee-pop vocal harmonies, and lyrical narrative that ends in doom and a Wild West shoot-out, “Odds,” is a perfect example of their formula. “Something about the lyrics of this song when I am singing it makes me feel austere and haughty, like some dark lady overlord, and that is kinda fun for a hot second,” says guitarist/vocalist Skadi von Reis.
The video for “Odds” was originally themed around a bodybuilding competition, but since it wasn’t competition season, they settled on street harassment, something both Jones and von Reis have experienced. Hall contacted Gore, who recruited some of her wrestling buddies to play the cat-callers. “We basically just ran around Georgetown in Seattle throwing pads down and doing each beat down one at a time. it was great fun and nobody was injured.” Hall says.
The band’s fondness for mixing dark subject matter with lighthearted sounds (and vice versa) comes through loud and clear in the video. “When I watch the video I am cheering these ladies on, I am high-fiving our heroine, I am smiling at the end. I love watching people when they watch the video because they too also join in to the cooperative fighting back against creepsters. It is a beautiful thing,” von Reis says.
Watch “Odds” below. Ephrata is out now.