Pussy Riot: Behind The Scenes for I Can’t Breathe

Pussy Riot: Behind The Scenes for I Can’t Breathe

Pussy Riot Reveal “I Can’t Breathe” song/video featuring  Richard Hell, Nick Zinner, Andrew Wyatt, Jack Wood and Scofferlane

Pussy Riot’s first song in English is dedicated to Eric Garner and the words he repeated eleven times before his death. This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror – killed, choked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds – for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change. We stand in solidarity.

Behind the scenes photos by Denis Sinyakov and Alexander Sofeev
“I Can’t Breathe” was recorded in New York in December 2014 during the protests against police brutality together with Pussy Riot, Richard Hell, Nick Zinner, Andrew Wyatt, Shahzad Ismaily (The Ceramic Dog) and Russian bands Jack Wood and Scofferlane.

Shot and directed by Pussy Riot’s friend Maxim Pozdorovkin (director Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer) for this song, which features Eric Garner’s family, protesters and members of the community.

 

Why is the song’s name “I Can’t Breathe”?
Pussy Riot’s first English song is dedicated to those who can no longer breathe. To Eric Garner and to all who suffer from state terror – killed, choked, perished because of war and police violence – to political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change. We all have to protest for those who are silent, and we have to protest for each other, no matter the geography, no matter the borders.

“I can’t breathe” – these are the last words of Eric Garner. Those words are his, but we hope they can also stand for us and for many around the world, for all who can’t breathe because authorities act with impunity and feel invincible and above the law in using power to humiliate, intimidate, hurt, kill and oppress. We’ve known, on our own skin, what police brutality feels like and we can’t be silent on this issue.

Pussy Riot feat R. Hell, N. Zinner, A. Wyatt, Jack Wood, Scofferlane “I Can’t Breathe”

Why are you both wearing Russian riot police uniform?
The police uniform carries special powers on the street in the United States, in Russia and around the world. Those who put it on are granted a monopoly to enact violence, that’s a power we delegate to them. And those who wear it may not understand until the end the true extent of the responsibility he or she is now bearing. illegal violence in the name of the state kills not only its victims, but those who are chosen to carry out these actions. Policemen, soldiers, agents, they become hostages and are buried with those they kill, both figuratively and literally. Hundreds of Russian soldiers who are secretly sent to the war zone in Ukraine have been killed in combat and it is forbidden even for their families to know where they have died and why. Russian riot police officers that have stood up in court and testified under oath about their actions during the violent break up of the rally on May 6, 2012 in Moscow, that they could not always overcome their conscience and do what they are ordered to or lie under oath in court about acts of organised violence from peaceful protesters that never happened during that rally. Some of those riot police officers have gone against their superiors, told the truth and refused to testify against the accused protesters. Other policemen were forced to choke their conscience.

How did you record this song?
This song was composed and recorded over one night this December in a studio in New York City, during the demonstrations. We had been taking part in the protests, walking with the protesters who were demanding that the police be held accountable for Eric’s death and demanding change.  We got together and decided to make a dedication based on Eric Garner’s last words because we felt these words so deeply. And this was felt by artists from two different continents – Pussy Riot, Richard Hell (who read out Eric Garner’s last words), Jack Wood (vocals), Scofferlane (composition), Nick Zinner (piano and bass) and Andrew Wyatt (beats) spent a whole night recording the song from beginning till the end.
The genre of this isn’t like other Pussy Riot songs. It’s an industrial ballad. Dark and urban. The rhythm and beat of the song is a metaphor of a heartbeat, the beat of a heart before it’s about to stop. The absence of our usual aggressive punk vocals in this song is a reaction to this tragedy.

Are you being buried alive?
Yes, we are being buried alive. The video is composed of one very long take and all that time we are lying underground. And we’re sure that our burial will be a bit of wish-fulfilment for some people out there.

What’s up with the cigarettes we see in the music video? Is this an advertisement of some sort?
In the beginning of the video there is a pack of cigarettes of a brand that has not existed several months ago and that is named after one of the most defining ideological concepts of today’s Russia: “Russian Spring”.

And what does “Russian Spring” has to do with all this?
Since our previous music video, “Putin will teach you how to love” that was shot during a violent battle with thugs and militants during last years’ Olympic games in Sochi, Russia has seriously changed. Since last spring we have been living in a condition of war and hatred towards the rest of the world that the Kremlin has called “the Russian Spring” following the annexation of Crimea. A bloody war in Ukraine, fuelled and controlled by Russia, a civilian plane that was shot down by a rocket that killed hundreds of people from around the world – a lot of our plans and artistic conceptions were changed by news from the war zone that were was arriving daily. We really could not breathe for this whole last year. Our previous ideas did not speak to what was happening in the conflict zone in Ukraine as we were realising that Russia is burying itself alive in terms of the rest of the world. Committing suicide. Daily.
And so the song “I Can’t Breathe” is about us and our country as well. It is also about Russia, too.

Second video shot by Maxim Pozdorovkin in New York

Read interviews about the song/video with Richard Hell and Pussy Riot’s Nadya and Masha on Pitchfork HERE

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Pussy Riot: Behind The Scenes for I Can’t Breathe