(Los Angeles) – Cities are burning. Hearts are broken. The knee of racism is once again crushing the windpipe of Black America. With a nation fighting two pandemics, from award-winning LA poet Sekou Andrews comes the world premiere of “Love Says.” The third single and video from his GRAMMY® nominated album Sekou Andrews & The String Theory, “Love Says” is a powerful poem about the double-edged relationship between love and hate, and the need for the fight for freedom, justice and equality to be anchored in love.
The compelling and arresting film was directed and edited by Spot Welders’ Mischa Meyer and shot by Maz Makhani. Optimist Inc. and AKKURAT Studios partnered on production and California Music’s Kristian Nord and Malte Hagemeister teamed with The String Theory’s PC Nackt, Ben Lauer, and Sebastian Gäbel. Sekou’s piece is meant for the victims, family and community members, and allies who are struggling to discern between the voice of rage screaming into their right ear, and the voice of love whispering into their left.
Hatred and injustice have been pandemics in America long before COVID-19 showed up. Both viruses have the potential to isolate people from each other, or bring them together in new ways. Both have the potential to suffocate hope or breathe life into change. Both are real. Both are making it harder to breathe these days. Both are desperate for a vaccine.
“While science scrambles for a vaccine for Coronavirus, humanity has already been incubating the vaccine for the hatred virus. A scientific name for it may not exist, but the street name for it is ‘LOVE,’” says Sekou.
The timing and precognition of the poem and release of the film is haunting as Sekou shares this project was in the making prior to the nation’s current events. He explains, “I wish I could say I was inspired to write the piece by this latest act of racial violence that is setting our nation aflame. But, just as the knee of systemic racism has been asphyxiating black people long before the murder of George Floyd, this poem was inspired long before this moment.”
“It all started when Sekou and The String Theory recorded a song and a video in our studios last year,” adds Toygar Bazarkaya, Creative Director of Optimist. “After hearing the powerful words of “Love Says,” we knew we had to focus on exactly that – the words. Any film had to move aside and leave Sekou the stage to express them. It’s an exercise in restraint that left us with the words and the artist, literally.”
Director and editor Mischa Meyer shares, “We shot this in March and these topics were just as pressing back then as they have been for decades. But now we’re really seeing that people have had enough with the injustice. We aspire for this piece to give people some guidance in where to look for answers and the hope that love conquers all.”
“That’s the crazy thing,” adds California Music’s Malte Hagemeister. “We recorded this song a year ago. Then we shot this video the day before the lockdown hit LA. But when George Floyd was killed and the streets were full of “I Can’t Breathe” signs, we knew we had to finish it immediately.”
On creating the film Sekou explains, “Admittedly, I had to stop and think hard when deciding whether to partner with primarily white and European production partners and musical collaborators for a piece that was so connected to my black experience.”
Then Sekou Andrews re-read his own poem. He looked into the eyes and hearts of his fellow artists and saw brothers and sisters who were respectful of his unique experience and yet aware of their human connection to it. And he searched the open palms of people who understood the consequences of hatred from their own perspectives. He found friends in that sacred cease-fire of space between African American, German, Swedish, Turkish, and other ethnicities and nationalities. He also found hope in the poetry of an orchestra from Berlin and Sweden joining forces with an African American to fight injustice through art, as protesters from Berlin and Sweden joined those in Los Angeles to fight injustice against African Americans through activism.
“The collective that created this song and video with me is the living embodiment of the poem’s message,” says Sekou. “This poem is for the fighters. The ones who are fighting for love. The ones who are running toward the fight to stop it.”
About Sekou Andrews: GRAMMY® nominated spoken word poet Sekou Andrews, a schoolteacher turned award-winning recording artist and two-time national poetry slam champion, is one of the most successful spoken word poets in the world. On any given day, you may find Sekou keynoting at a Fortune 500 company, inspiring thousands at a concert, or performing for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard. Sekou innovated a new category of public speaking called “Poetic Voice,” which seamlessly fuses inspirational speaking with spoken word poetry. His poetic keynotes are in such high demand with leading brands like Google, Toyota, Nike, PayPal, Viacom, E.A. Games, and Microsoft that Forbes has called him a “polymath” and “the de facto poet laureate of corporate America.” With that, he has won the 2020 gold “Entrepreneur of the Year” Stevie® Award. Sekou has shared the stage with music heavyweights Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Maroon 5, and Kendrick Lamar, to name but a few. His latest, genre-bending album of poetry paired with The String Theory, a neo-classical orchestra from Europe, has made him the first contemporary spoken word poet to be nominated for the 2020 GRAMMY® “Best Spoken Word Album” in 12 years. He has also won two 2020 Independent Music Awards for “Best Spoken Word Song” and “Best Spoken Word Album.”
About Optimist: A creative experience agency bridging the gap between brand culture and human emotion. The company blends creative, strategy, design, content, innovation and production to deliver first-ever solutions that are both momentous and real.
About AKKURAT Studios: AKKURAT Studios is an artist-driven production and publishing company of award-winning talent coming from a variety of acknowledged constellations to create visionary and outstanding projects.
About Spot Welders: Spot Welders is an award-winning editorial company based in Venice, California. They are a hub for storytellers — collaborating with leading brands, agencies, studios, organizations, and artists creating high-end, innovative content to achieve their creative visions.
About California Music: California Music produces inspirational music powered short movies with their band The Great Escape, who’s music has been placed in numerous TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Netflix’s The Haunting Of Hill House. It is founded by Malte Hagemeister and Kristian Nord, multi-instrumentalists, composers, producers, and activists.