With 100% off the proceeds from Bandcamp going to the science-backed ocean conservation and protection non-profit, Project Zero, singer-songwriter Holly Miranda’s “Water is Life” does more than burst forth from speakers. The jam-bandy, chant-channeling track—born of collaboration, protest and performance—aims to do good for the world on many levels. Its message is one worthing singing out.
“This song was written in 2016 during a charity event called Rock Lottery, wherein a large group of musicians meet in the morning and bands are assembled by names pulled from a hat,” Miranda tells us. “These bands then have the afternoon to write three original songs and learn one cover, and everyone performs that evening with all the money going to charity.” Miranda’s band for the day, with “Captain” Kirk Douglas (The Roots), Eli Janney (The Late Night band), Dave Lizmi and Sam Ubl, was called Tiny Punches.
“We wrote the first incarnation of ‘Water is Life’ that afternoon. This was around the time the protest at Standing Rock was happening and I was asked to play a couple benefit shows in New York and Los Angeles. I started pulling whoever was around at the shows to jam this song out with me and one of those people was Kyp Malone [TV on the Radio],” Miranda adds. Malone ultimately added a second verse to the song.
At a benefit for Planned Parenthood in Washington DC, after the first Women’s March, producer Stuart Bogie did an arrangement of the track—and Miranda knew from that moment on that he should be the one to produce it. Recording happened more than a year later, in Little Stevie’s Chinatown studio, thanks to engineer Geoff Sanoff. But afterward, Miranda focused her attention elsewhere. When considering tracks for her forthcoming record, Virtual Funeral, she remixed “Water is Life” at Coldcut Studio in Brooklyn with Florent Barbier. It solidified into the track released today.
“‘Water is Life’ will also be the initial release on my new label Eye Knee Records,” Miranda says. “The idea behind this label is for it to be a co-op of sorts for artists, where they never have to give away their masters and the label always gives back to the community. My record, Ambrosia Parsley’s new music and some other projects will be coming out on it this year.” It’s an exciting promise that adhere’s to Miranda’s mission with this track—and “Midnight Oil,” which she released to much acclaim in 2017.
Images by Geoffrey Barbier