The Artist Explains: Tonio - 'Message In A Bottle Pt.1'

Hip Hop artist Tonio Sagan talks to us about his powerful visuals for his social commentary single, ‘Message In A Bottle Pt.1’ taken from his current album ‘In The Garden’.

Where was the video for 'Message In A Bottle Pt. 1’' filmed?
We filmed Message in a Bottle in a handful of Western MA locations, the warehouse was in Turners Falls, MA.

How does the video connect with the song and could you tell us about the ideas/themes/images used?
"In the Garden" is an experimental Hip-Hop album founded on the soul-sought recollections of multi-genre producer and lyricist Tonio Sagan. The self produced Lp counters modern production with organic instrumentation, underscoring oration that is both grounded in self reflection and challenging those reflections with objective philosophical concepts. "Message in a Bottle Pt.1" is a short film that transcends "In The Garden" motifs to the visual dimension of story telling.

I was raised in a scientific family that promoted empirical truth but also nurtured imaginative artistic expression. Message in a Bottle balances a similar juxtaposition. Frightening realities that glimmer hope. In the way a candle makes a shadow. In light of dark truths.

‘Message In A Bottle Pt.1’ is the most blatant social commentary song on my album "In The Garden." Political songs can so easily come off preachy and self-righteous. As a lyricist I try to avoid the word "you" as much as possible. It was important to me in the lyric-writing phase to end the song with an honest critique of myself. This introspection led me to write the story the video tells; self-sacrifice and internal revolution. There is a tendency towards rationalising the part each of us play in the human-made horrors of the world. I come from a society that promotes a destructive infinite growth model. It's unsustainable and inescapable. I believe in humanity, but we have to find balance. That paradigm shift starts internally in each of us and is going to take sacrifice. The sacrifice motif occurs throughout my album and quite literally manifested itself in the ‘Message In A Bottle Pt.1’ imagery.

Do you have any behind the scenes stories you could share with us?
We had trouble with the blood splatter scene hahaha. Special effects makeup is a whole art I have a new-found respect for. We included that outtake at the end of the video.

What do you hope people take away from watching the video?
I spent a large portion of my life being negative but I recently committed to changing this part of myself. My life is like my art; a constant work in progress. As hopeless as the state of the world can seem, we can all make a difference locally. Our communities have an accumulative effect. If we are all part of the problem, we can also be the solution.

Interview by Karla Harris