Tomorrow, we will release a new song called “Rosalie.” But in truth, we debated heavily whether this was the right time to bring our music into the world. Like many of you, we’ve wrestled with how to move forward from this moment. After several weeks of protesting, turning back to our daily routines and promoting an album feels meaningless and fundamentally at odds with where our country is as a collective. However, this time has also led us to acknowledge the myriad ways these issues, and specifically the broader theme of human connection, factor deeply into our music. As a society we have, both consciously and unconsciously, buried the lines that connect us all, and that is precisely what “Rosalie” laments. To demonstrate that, we’d like to tell you about the evening that inspired this song.
For many years we threw a party on the Fourth of July at our former studio/home down the street from the ocean in Rockaway Beach, Queens, NY. Over time, it was interesting to watch these gatherings turn from festive to questioning, as we began to wonder what exactly about our nation’s history was worth celebrating. But, in the summer of 2017, the tradition was still in full swing. Our house was packed with friends when I left past sundown to get more beer from the bodega. But, when I turned the corner onto the neighboring street, I heard a sound that froze me: a woman screaming in a tone so sharp it split the sky. I ran closer to realize its source. Outside the subsidized apartments just beyond the bodega there was a young, dead body being wheeled out into an ambulance, and in tow was the mother: weeping in anger, mourning a tragedy.
At the time, there was a pandemic of lethal, fentanyl-laced heroin passing through our neighborhood. And I suspect this death may have been a symptom of that. But, truthfully, I do not, and likely will not ever, know. What I do know is that, as I approached the scene, the mother turned towards me, and we locked eyes. I can only describe this moment as one of the more harrowing experiences I’ve had.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve thought about this night many times since. And what has struck me from the very beginning is the disparity in our circumstances. This woman was mourning one of the most significant losses she will ever know, and less than a hundred yards away, my friends and I were partying in complete obliviousness. My point here is not to say that someone else’s tragedy is your responsibility. But instead to acknowledge that many of us have found ways to distance ourselves from the harsh realities of our neighbors.
This moment we are witnessing affects us all. And in the past two weeks, I have reflected often on yet another tragedy of the racial injustice perpetrated for centuries by this country. In brutalizing, subjugating, and consistently dehumanizing Black people, our nation has, in fact, dehumanized itself. It has built its entire identity, and the identity of many of its inhabitants, on the idea that we are not the same. That is so extremely sad and maddening. But, most importantly, it is untrue. And if we allow this system, this lie, to stay intact, we will all continue to live beneath our potential.
What I felt when that woman looked at me was that she could have been my mother. And I wanted to share that sentiment in this hour. So, tomorrow the song will come out. We hope it will do a better job of making you feel what I am trying in vain to put into words. All of the streaming proceeds from the first week will go to Arts in Parts, an organization in Rockaway that educates local students of color on ocean ecology and environmental protection. There will also be a link on all of our platforms where you can donate directly to this cause.
As always, we are grateful for your time and support. With love, Danny + Max.