Ben Verdoes and Nathan Quiroga chose the name “Iska Dhaaf,” a Somali phrase meaning “Let it Go,” after a couple of rough practices the two had together. The name served as a reminder, a mantra to take things in stride and push on, despite the odds.
Many of Iska Dhaaf’s songs thus far have explored what it means to “let it go,” both internally and externally. The group’s first single “All The Kids,” was Quiroga’s attempt to purge himself of the party-hardy past that earned him a reputation as a firestarter in town. The group’s upcoming EP is a theme record tackling international drone warfare and the tragedies that faceless combat can wreak, inspired by Verdoes’ interactions at school teaching Somali children who experienced that devestation firsthand.
The group’s second single, “Happiness” is an even more head on attempt to grapple with redemption, a somber song that asks the age old question, “What does it mean to be happy?”
This morning Iska Dhaaf released its first music video, a cinematic parable of “mental purgatory” as the band puts it, that continues their quest for catharsis. The clip for “Happiness” is masterfully shot—stark black and white cinematrography places the band in a sort of no man’s land, grasping for objects of desire that are just out of reach and vomiting up light rays. At its best, the clip recalls Ingmar Bergman’s “Seventh Seal,” a similarly bleak existential fable that also finds its protagonist confronting shady hooded figures. For a music video, it’s refreshingly high concept and well-executed, indicative of the quality we can expect from the group’s upcoming drone warfare video trilogy.