The air is smoky, shaded with a blue hue, and the quarters are cramped. Inside, Jules Hale aka Den-Mate is turning the familiar into the unfamiliar with a live performance of “Just So You Know,” from her 2016 self-titled album.
Intimate space lends itself to intimate camera work. The shots are more evocative than what one would typically associate with live footage–a face is underlined by a guitar in the foreground, two torsos sway, and after the first shot, the whole band doesn’t share the same frame again. But while the visuals are marked by a segmentation of sorts, the sound is distinguished from its in-studio predecessor by a distinct fullness.
Veering sharply from the forlorn electronic soundscape that defined the studio version of the song, Den-Mate swaps programmed drums for an acoustic set and pushes the originally utilitarian guitar to the forefront. By filling what was negative space with acoustic sound, Hale recasts her character on the song from bitter to absolutely over it.
“I’m here, I’m here, I’m always here,” is a howled as an anthem here. You can almost hear Hale slapping her forehead, furious at herself for having her time wasted and equally pissed at whoever wasted it.
Ultimately, Den-Mate’s recontextualization of “Just So You Know” is what makes the video a compelling watch. That the same song can represent two sides of the same coin–the patience and impotence that comes with being “the reliable one”–is a window into the power of composition and emotion in songwriting. It’s also a sharp reminder that there is a living element to live music that can offer a new perspective on an old tune.
Babe City Records has promised “Just So You Know” to be the first episode of an ongoing series of live music videos called Babe City Sessions.