Club-diva bass-burp duo Hank & Cupcakes have only paid New York City rents for two years, but have already experienced the first-hand (dis)pleasure of being apprehended by our local law enforcement. Detained “for putting three bumper stickers on lightpoles in Williamsburg,” the Israeli-formed team testify via e-mail that this vandalism charge caused them to be held “under arrest for 37 hours”–in other words, “completely out of proportion to the crime we had committed.” This ordeal led them to identify with this paper’s very own “NYPD Tapes” series, Graham Rayman’s five–part investigation that captured supervisors telling officers to manipulate crime statistics and make illegal arrests on audio tape. This is also why an issue of the Voice plays a supporting role in second of two videos for their grope-pop anthem, “Ain’t No Love,” which Hank & Cupcakes will most certainly play it at their free show tonight at Brooklyn Bowl. You might as well check it out if you’re still in town. It’s not like you can get Kanye West tickets or anything.
What is “Ain’t No Love” about?
Hank & Cupcakes: “Aint No Love” was initially written in response to feelings of alienation of an individual in a mass society and about fighting that feeling by opening up instead of becoming alienated yourself.
Gregg Man and Liza Fonjallaz of Emanate Flow Films, who directed the video: In our interpretation of the song, “Ain’t No Love” is a denunciation of the violence of our contemporary world and how we must combat that onslaught by showing love. In the video Hank & Cupcakes are surfing the news on TV that all show images of war, discrimination, abuse of power. They react by tagging a wall with a list of words that define what they see on TV then they destroy these ideas.
Why did you make two videos for this song?
Hank & Cupcakes: It actually happened by coincidence, a short time after we shot the first video, directed by Xiang Ren, Gregg & Liza saw us play the Prospect Park Bandshell and approached us about shooting a live show with a focus on the song, “Ain’t No Love.” They wanted to incorporate some images into the live show footage and this concept evolved and eventually became another music video.
Why is Hank flipping through the “NYPD Tapes” series issue of the Voice in the foreground of the video? We appreciate the love, by the way.
Hank & Cupcakes: We very much identified with this since we were arrested a few months earlier for putting three bumper stickers on lightpoles in Williamsburg. In our opinion, the NYPD handled us completely out of proportion to the crime we had committed. We were held under arrest for 37 hours, Cupcakes was handcuffed to a prison cell for 20 hours straight and we witnessed very bad treatment of other people we were arrested with. We applaud the Village Voice for voicing the testimony of those who oppose this behavior and feel it’s very important to have outlets that monitor and criticize abuse of power.
Gregg Mann & Liza Fonjallaz: We chose the Voice because the paper represents the people of New York City and the cover showing the NYPD Tapes issue is a “No Love” situation that adds to the fact that there ain’t no love even from the people that are paid to help us.
Also in this version of the video, there are politically charged words and images, yet this is a dance song.
Cupcakes: I like the combination of serious meaningful lyrics with a poppy tune, it creates a tension in the song which keeps the listener alert. There are many songs like that: Delilah, Maxwell’s “Silver Hammer,” Lagy Gaga’s video for “Bad Romance,” just to name a few. It’s more abstract and keeps a lot of space for interpretation. When we first saw finished result of the music video we felt the video gave a whole new intense and dark meaning to the music, it was amazing!
Gregg Mann: It will hopefully keep you thinking while you have fun enjoying the music. Like George Clinton says, “Think! It aint illegal yet!”
What would be the ideal film scene to have “Ain’t No Love” as the soundtrack?
Hank & Cupcakes: When we saw both the videos we understood how fitting this song is for so many different contexts! “Ain’t No Love” was just licensed for a Smart Car campaign so it really could be anything. It could be a scene about corrupted cops, it could be a young girl in the 80’s who wants to be a dancer, it could be in a documentary about globel warming. You name it- we’re open to suggestion!
You’re from Tel Aviv. What do you see there on the street that you’d never see in New York City?
Hank and Cupcakes: Hot Israeli girls walking around in bikinis on the beach and Shnitzel in Pita bred with magic potato balls on Bugrashov Street!
Hank & Cupcakes perform tonight at the Brooklyn Bowl at 8pm for free.