Baptize Yourself in the Cult of Synthwave in Malibu Nights' New Music Video

Malibu Nights hosts a premiere party for the video "Callie" on Friday, June 11.
Malibu Nights hosts a premiere party for the video "Callie" on Friday, June 11. Corey Floyd
Last October, members of the Denver electronic rock trio Malibu Nights considered making a short film based on conversations around the pandemic. Instead, singer Levi Garrett, guitarist Matthew Shaw and drummer Cody Kuehl decided to make a music video for their synthwave song “Callie.”

Garret notes that “Callie,” which is on the trio’s EP Golden Vol. 1, was named after screenwriter Callie Khouri, who penned the film Thelma & Louise. Garrett’s lyrics were inspired by the final scene of the movie, in which the two lead characters drive off a cliff, and the freedom of choice that portrayed.

"The lyrics for this video are inspired by a sense of fearless freedom, but also the fleeting and unreliable experience of time,” Garrett says. “These passing moments are often distorted upon reflection, and filled with dizzying ecstasy while taking place. We tried to convey this sensation of time as a vibrant kaleidoscope through fast-paced imagery and often mysterious otherworldly figures, aka the cult acolytes and leader, who determine and judge the flow of time in the video.”

Kuehl’s parents’ forty-acre ranch in Longmont served as a location for the thirty-hour shoot. While the story in the video, which depicts a synthwave cult baptizing Garrett in a creek, doesn’t necessarily follow the lyrics' narrative, Kuehl says the goal was to capture the band's dance/electronic synthwave style.

The brainchild of Garrett, Malibu Nights first formed about three years ago. Kuehl, who’s also played in the blues-rock band the Sickly Ferguson, and Garrett, who also plays keyboards for the Bunny Gang, say Malibu Nights was their first electronica project,

“Switching to a synth kind of approach totally changed how we had to do things,” Kuehl says. “We decided we wanted to play with the backing tracks so Levi could do more of a frontman sort of thing.”

Malibu Nights will play a stripped-down acoustic set on Friday, June 11, at a video premiere party and discussion about “Callie" from 7 to 9 p.m. at Valkarie Gallery, 445 South Saulsbury in Belmar. 
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.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon