If you know Los Angeles at all, you’ll be familiar with Santee Street, the main drag of that city’s Fashion District. Nearby are many warehouses that have been turned into upmarket loft apartments, which have featured in many music videos over the years, including Jedward’s ‘Good Vibes’. Santee Alley is a pedestrian thoroughfare which connects the back gates of the many clothing shops, and it’s filled with salespeople who sell their wares from all over the world. You can get just about anything you want here – bridal gowns, wigs, American blue jeans, dresses from Africa and Asia, cheap shoes, expensive handbags – you name it, Santee Alley’s got it. It’s the perfect example of just how multicultural Los Angeles is.
Pop-soul duo HEЯITAGE use Santee Alley as their backdrop for the clip to their song ‘Speak Life’. The pair, singer-guitarist Hannah Eggen and saxophonist and vocalist Gianluca Gibbons, chose Santee Alley because of their close ties with the world of street fashion, and their cosmopolitan heritage. Both from Bermuda, they’re based in Southern California, and their music is a blend of new wave, hip hop, reggae, Caribbean music, electropop, blues, Afrobeat, and punk – in fact calling them pop-soul is too narrow a classification. Their sound is decidely universal.
HEЯITAGE are currently completing a debut set with producer Tommy D Daugherty, who’s worked with the likes of Prince, Tupac, and Snoop Dogg among others, and it’s currently scheduled with a release date for early 2019.
Although ‘Speak Life’ isn’t one of their own compositions – we’ll have to wait until next year for that – it nevertheless serves as an indicator of what they’re capable of. The track was originally by Damian “Jr Gong” Marley, and closed his 2017 album, ‘Stony Hill’. His track was intimate, percussive, and acoustic: HEЯITAGE have reimagined it as a sleek R&B track, with analogue synths, skittering hi-hat, and a smooth, moody sax. Reinterpretation aside, the message remains the same – empowerment against the odds.
The video for ‘Speak Life’ was shot by Brandon Lee, and echoes Marley’s video, which instead saw him wandering through the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In this we see HEЯITAGE doing the same thing in LA, with the pair knowing everyone in the street. They even stop to allow a shoe seller make a pitch, “shoes for you to give back to the community”. It’s brilliant, it’s alive. It’s real.
HEЯITAGE are having a competition, the #SpeakLifeChallenge – in line with the release of ‘Speak Life’. You can find out more information here.