Philadelphia’s Worldtown Soundsystem is, well, all wet in the video for “Freedom,” premiering exclusively below from the collective’s upcoming debut album.
Directed by Corin Hunter and Julia Lehman, the clip was filmed entirely underwater in an outdoor swimming pool during the waning days of summer. “It was a really interesting experience for sure,” DJ/producer and co-founder Ben Arsenal tells Billboard. “You do your thing and you don’t really know what’s happening and you can’t see, right? And (Lehman) showed us the footage and it’s like ‘omigod’ with all the lighting and all the movement, and we brought some cloth down there to add depth. It turned out great.” The colorful spectacle includes band members along with four dancing string players.
The troupe’s blind percussionist Pablo Batista, who’s worked Alicia Keys and Patti LaBelle, among others, found his part of the shoot particularly challenging. “There’s a conga solo in the song,” he notes. “I was trying to mimic the movement of the hits, in sync with the hits on the song. It was pretty incredible — and very aerobic. But I enjoyed it — and we are all now in good shape.”
Appropriately for “Freedom” — which features string arrangements from Grammy winner Larry Gold — Worldtown Soundsystem has teamed with charity: water, a New York- and London-based nonprofit whose #WorldtownWaves campaign is promoting clean drinking water around the world. “From our perspective, Worldtown is a celebration of international culture,” Arsenal explains. “We started as a DJ party, playing international dance music. It’s about the people, the diversity. Water is clearly something that is essential for absolutely everybody on earth, so what (charity: water) is doing really aligned and struck a chord with us all.”
Worldtown’s album, tentatively titled Surrounded, is due out in February and, according to Arsenal, will follow the song’s blend of EDM and global music styles. “Four to the floor, that’s the foundation, but it’s a pretty diverse mix of uptempo dance music,” he explains. “The modern production takes on different flavors of dance floor, driving music with the underlying tones of the folkloric elements Pablo brings to the table.” Batista, meanwhile, adds that, “We design the music together and it turns into this beautiful marriage between folklore and modern dance. That sets us apart. Although we do sample something, we’re coming from a very pure, folkloric sense — live congas and live drums and sax and bass and strings, yet there’s still an element of intrigue and technology Ben brings.”
Arsenal laughs as he declares, “There’s just a lot going on. It’s super fun. We can’t wait to get it out there and share it.”