The video for Joshua James’ song “Esperanza,” directed by Velour Live Music Gallery owner Corey Fox and Matt Eastin and released June 17, is one of the year’s most visually striking locally made music videos. ---
The wistful song is from the compilation album Esperanza: Songs From Jack Kerouac’s Tristessa—released in 2013—inspired by Kerouac’s novella Tristessa, which tells the story of the love affair he had with a prostitute named Esperanza Villanueva during a visit to Mexico in the ’50s. In the book, Kerouac changed Esperanza’s (“hope” in Spanish) name to Tristessa (“sadness” in Spanish), but singer-songwriter James decided to revert the character’s name back to her true one, “the enchanting, mystical, sexual Esperanza,” he says, as well as sing the song in Spanish to reflect her cultural identity.
Eastin and Fox began working on video projects four years ago, as members of the creative team The Occidental Saloon. Since then, they’ve collaborated on several music videos featuring local bands and musicians, including Joshua James’ “Queen of the City,” Mindy Gledhill’s “Pocketful of Poetry” and Imagine Dragons’ “On Top of the World.”
Filmed by director of photography Ty Arnold, the utterly gorgeous look of the video—which looks especially sumptuous due to the fact that Eastin manually hacked his Canon Mark III to shoot in ultra high definition, Fox says—was directly inspired by the story of Kerouac and Esperanza. “The book describes [Esperanza] and their relationship as both beautiful and self-destructive, so there is a lot of symbolism in the video portraying both, in a quirky tongue-in-cheek way,” Fox says. “Meaning, if you were wondering if you were suppose to laugh at certain parts, you were.”
The video for "Esperanza" feels more like a short film than a music video, especially in its opening sequence. "One of my favorite parts of the video is the opening credits, which Matt added along with the creepy music-box song while editing," Fox says. "None of that was planned but it added a cinematic element to the video which I love."
Except for the dresser and a few objects Fox made just for the conceptual video, all of the props and clothing are from his personal collection. “We both threw in a lot of ideas, but Matt pretty much gave me the reins to visually take this to where my mind naturally goes: a world full of old Catholic art, taxidermy, turquoise and vintage Western suits.” If you look closely when James opens the drawer, “you’ll even see a picture of my dad as a child mixed in there,” Fox adds.
Check out the video for “Esperanza” below.