If you haven’t been tuning into SmartBomb Oakland’s video home system series, especially during this current lifeless Quarantine, you are without a doubt missing out! Smartbomb Oakland is a California based community and music platform – where they have cultivated a series that they call “Video Home System.”
These video home system episodes each feature a wide range of various artists, giving them the creative space and freedom to explore virtual aesthetics and sonic explorations. However, Smartbomb Oakland doesn’t just house virtual music sets every episode – they have an entire creatively adept team behind them that conducts psychedelic visuals, shorts, and music videos as well.
Smartbomb Oakland is centered around providing a spiritual, out of body experience into the cosmic realm in which they believe music to be the indefinite portal.
Around the twenty-five minute mark, Liv.e’s name flashes onto the screen, as the static plunges us right into her virtual music set. Almost instantaneously, like forging on trippy mushrooms – the viewer is sent into another dimension with shapeshifting, crystal ball like visuals as the sole backdrop behind Liv.e’s angelic vocals.
Liv.e’s musical set features striking visuals from artist Flatspot and interwoven beats provided by producer Mejiwahn. Liv.e sings some songs from her debut album, Couldn’t Wait To Tell You, that dropped this past summer.
Couldn’t Wait To Tell You is not merely an album, but a full-fledged experience in which Liv.e tells us the ultimate love story. This love story isn’t one that is often told or spoken enough of ever. There is no prince or the frog, no damsel in distress, no knight cloaked in armor, no foreboding towers that kiss the clouds.
Liv.e’s sound is hard to describe because listening to her music feels like teleportation or entering some time machine that takes you to an old jazz club – equipped with golden horns and an abundance of smoke that has aged like fine wine. She explores genres that bleed from jazz, gospel, and soul inspirations as well as a sprinkle of modern hip-hop.
This version that she performs of “How It Made Me Feel” is drastically different from the original track off the album. The track is introduced through the looping and enveloping of her vocal riffs that sound like the gates of heaven are opening and unlocking itself before you. These heavenly gates open onto a bed of old soul beats as Liv.e sings, “but, you had to escape from me and I understand.”
The graphics and visuals behind her feature magenta flowers blooming and multiplying like cells. These lyrics could be referring to the idea of a lover fleeing from her, in which she was left to her own devices: to fully love on herself.
However, I also think these lyrics could be hinting at the notion of self-sabotage. Liv.e might be speaking to this idea of her trying to run and escape from herself as a hurdle that she had to overcome in the process of attaining self love.
The graphics shift again to Liv.e’s face floating out onto this open dirt road as she segues into the next track, “To Unplug.” With these desert wastelands behind her and the mountain tops overlapping into the sky – one could infer that these visuals may be inclining that Liv.e’s main method of unplugging from the chaos and stress of life is by retreating out into nature.
The viewer is then brought back into the same visual set up and dimension that we seemed to be in before, as Liv.e performs the song, “Bout My Big Man Better.” She sings, “Imma catch it when it come my way, like imma catch me when I fall.”
Her set ends with the sun setting, golden hour just starting to peak. The visuals provided showcase Liv.e taking a scenic route in a sea-blue, beaten up BMW bug – passing by rich green trees as she rolls up the green in a joint. She hotboxes the car, large smoke rings protruding out from her lips and snaking its way into the interior of the car. As the smoke session continues, her scatting paired with another neo-soul beat fills the speakers in the car.
Then, just like that – Liv.e disappears and drives off into the mountains – leaving us only wanting more from her. Check out Smartbomb Oakland’s third VHS episode, with musical sets from not only Liv.e, but also artists PLUM, Khari Lucas, Pacific Yew – and so many other more gems from their ever-growing and talented community.
Take a trip through the cosmos and teleport into the stars as we all drift deeper into our own separate bubbles of isolation. Smartbomb Oakland’s VHS episodes are a means to connect to the collective once more, to feel the strength and sense of genuine kinship that takes place through the act of collaboration – one that we are all mourning and missing infinitely during this pandemic. Go to: smartbomboakland.com for the full VHS episode!