'Bad Wolves' Is A New Single From Jason Mraz, Rebecca Jade, Veronica May And Miki Vale
The San Diego arts scene knows how to collaborate — during the COVID-19 pandemic as artists and performers faced unprecedented, industry-wide shutdowns and uncertainties, it's particularly evident as artists scramble to find ways to create and share art, as well as fight to sustain the industry. Partly drawn from a need for artists to connect and create together, and partly from the richness found when adding extra hands, minds and voices.
The latest example of this sort of work is coming from San Diego singer-songwriter Rebecca Jade, who recently collaborated with Jason Mraz, Miki Vale and Veronica May to pen a new single, "Bad Wolves." It officially releases Tuesday.
For the group and for many artists, their need to create together coincides with their drive for unity, justice and activism.
"The experience of collaborating with all the artists and creating this piece was really beautiful," said Miki Vale, rapper, teaching artist at the Old Globe and founder of SoulKiss Theater. Vale had teased the idea of the video in an interview with KPBS this summer.
"After the murder of George Floyd, like many people, Veronica May felt very moved and felt the need to do something in protest of police injustice," said Vale. May began coming up with the initial "bad wolves" concept, and reached out to Vale, Mraz, and Jade to be part of it.
"I was all in because I appreciate all of them as fellow musicians," Vale said. "Especially recording and shooting during quarantine, we had to practice physical distancing, but there was a deep sense of connection with each other and the project, which was needed and appreciated."
The video kicks off with recognizable scenes from pandemic life and protests: masked dancers in a confrontation, passersby filming with their phones. Racial justice is at the forefront — as is turning an indifferent eye to racism — and masks serve many purposes: a timestamp, a metaphor and a necessity for the performers.
The opening line, "The country's being run by bad wolves on the hunt; they've got a taste for blood," kicks off the song with a broad message, but the song doesn't reserve blame for the most powerful people in the country. The lyrics continue: "The moral of the story: don't be a sheep running with the bad wolves." The song quickly tackles a more pedestrian setting of racism: unchecked and unexamined privilege, casual injustices and inaction.
"When I envisioned the line 'bad wolves,' I saw myself," said May in an email to KPBS. "In conversations where I've kept silent. In conversations about 'ghetto' neighborhoods. In knowing I have what Black folx and people of color do not get the luxury of having. It must start with me. With every white person. We must use our financial, emotional, physical selves to overthrow this system of oppression."
The lyrics and choreography, the songwriters hope, will encourage action and change. In a post on social media, Mraz summed up the project as a multidisciplinary, artistic call for peace, change and justice. "It's not political. It's ethical," he said.
The song was written and performed by Jade, Mraz, Vale and May, with additional songwriting and production from Jeff Berkley, Meghan Lowery and Becca Jay. The video was produced by Eboni Harvey of EB Of Course.
"It's time for equity and it can no longer be on the backs of our Black friends," said May.