With classical instruments strapped in, the string trio Simply Three drove out of the Phoenix Valley up into the Payson mountains and onto a forested, dirt trail. In that remote setting, their music flowed while the videographer captured it to create the band's stunning 'Demons' by Imagine Dragons cover that debuts on YouTube today.
"We wanted a setting that felt a little dark and under cover," said cellist Zack Clark in a phone interview from New York City last night. Bassist Nicholas Villalobos added, "We were inspired by Imagine Dragons. 'Demons' translates to classical instruments really well." The two Arizonans are in New York to join violinist Alex Weill at a music artists and management conference.
As the video opens, the trio dramatically rises out of the forest ground. Villalobos begins to pluck and tap a pure, unassuming bass rhythm. He's followed by Clark's earnest cello melody and then Weill's pleading violin line that gently but persistently beg attention.
"We all (each band member) had an integral part in arranging this piece," said Clark. "Alex is a great improv artist. The whole project was a team effort."
The trio's smooth legato builds with deeply grounded electricity pulsing just beneath the surface as amber sunlight filters through the evening trees in the video. It transmits the tune's original lyrics about "the heat inside...where my demons hide" into visceral sound.
As stronger violin strains plead we listen closer, focus on the message pouring from the music seems far more holy than devilish. Villalobos produces ever-deeper, driving percussive rhythms with accentuating pounds and slaps. Then, like the forest in the video that opens into a golden clearing, the music phrases swell to make room for forgiveness and redemption.
And then the water begins to trickle. Down the tree trunk. Over Weill's tender hand. The mood becomes pensive and the music lightly ethereal, intertwining simplicity with the hunger that surges beneath.
"We were running short of daylight," Clark recalls, "and getting nervous. We'd never worked with the water before, and we had to nail it the first time."
Anticipating the final musical flourish that's so memborably etched into the mountain horizon, the slow motion droplets of water amplify into a purifying deluge. From beginning to end, it's classy, classical pop. Like Villalobos hoped, it's "current, relevant, accessible music."