It seems entirely appropriate that Denver indie-dream-pop outfit Tyto Alba is named after the Latin translation of “barn owl.” After all, that bird is elegant, thought to be highly intelligent (or at least bookish), and single-minded in its efficiency. There’s also an otherworldly beauty to the barn owl, not unlike the music of Tyto Alba.
“I think barn owls are beautiful, wonderful animals,” says vocalist and guitarist Melanie Steinway. “They have a lot of attributes that make them unique to the animal kingdom, such as the way their feathers are structured, [the way] they fly completely silently, the ability to turn their heads 270 degrees. They’re really amazing and powerful. They’re symbols of the night, which inspires feminist energy.”
When an owl wants something, it goes and gets it, and that theme is also relevant when considering the new video for the song “The Hunger,” from the In Our Own Time EP, which was released in March 2016. Filmed, directed and edited by Colin Anders, “The Hunger” is Tyto Alba’s first “real” video, excluding some band-made efforts.
The group allowed Anders to pick the song that he wanted to work with, then granted him a huge amount of creative freedom. That trust worked out: His video is dark and majestic – somehow bleak yet lush. And it does a great job of making visual the song's overt themes.
“The ‘Hunger’ of the title is feeling desires and feeling conflicted about them, and repressing them or not repressing them,” Steinway says. “Visually, I feel like the video is pretty cohesive with that. I think for me, a lot of feminist issues and imagery have come to light in the video as well. Within music, there’s a long history of female subjugation, and in the video I feel like there’s a bit of a departure of the female as the anonymous object of desire. That’s the woman’s classic role, always being voiced by male musicians. In the video, on the other hand, the women are this spotlighted host of the desire, and the men in the video are, for the most part, these anonymous masked figures. It’s flipping this history on its head.
“Everybody knows the Pink Floyd poster of the women with their back to the camera and the album artwork painted on them,” Steinway continues. “There’s a history of male rock bands utilizing female sexuality as a marketing strategy. There’s been a lot of recent discussion on how women are really becoming more prominent in music. While it’s necessarily in the forefront, I think there’s a little bit of that role reversal implied in our video. I think in a lot of the past, it’s not really appropriate for women to be expressing desire, expressing these urges that are generally reserved for the male."
KEEP WESTWORD FREE...
Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.