In pop rock band Walk the Moon’s latest music video, there is no singing, at least not in English.
Collaborating with AT&T and the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN), the chart-topping indie band created a second, alternative music video to their latest single, “Different Colors.” In this version, the performers and actors belt out the song in American Sign Language.
Mixed with impeccable choreography, they signed rhythmically and vigorously, and if you didn’t know beforehand, you would have never guessed many of them are hard of hearing, considering how flawlessly on beat they are.
“Deaf people feel music. They just don’t get the whole experience,” Joel Martin, the co-founder of D-PAN, told The Daily Beast in August, while the video was in production. “What we are doing is turning it into something that is accessible.”
Founded in 2006, the organization has created ASL videos for a multitude of pop artists, including Eminem, John Mayer, The White Stripes, Christina Aguilera, and Owl City. Earlier this year, they even created a version of the ubiquitous “Let It Go” from Disney’s "Frozen."
The latest video with Walk the Moon, however, is the first time an ASL video is backed by a large corporate sponsor and the band itself. AT&T led the project as part of their Feel The Music campaign, which promotes music among deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, and the celebration of music for everyone.
"It means everything to me," said Sean Forbes, the other co-founder of D-PAN and an organizer of the video. "It shows there are people out there who believe in what we're doing." Forbes, a rapper who’s deaf, was the one who approached Martin nearly 10 years ago to propose creating the ASL version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
The plot of Walk the Moon’s video parallels the message of celebrating differences. Titled “Subway Serenade,” the story begins with a very cautious mother escorting her daughter on a retro subway car. Then, the other commuters begin to dance and sign the lyrics of the song. What ensues is an infectious, lively dance party, which the daughter joins at the end.
It’s a relatable message for many of those with disabilities, who are often overlooked or overprotected. The video is shot in a continuous take, which took three days of rehearsals.
“I had to be really smart with who I hired,” producer Kevin Breslin told The Daily Beast. “We were all very concerned about being able to play up to their level, not about them playing up to ours.”
“The tricky thing for me was to be able to make sure that we didn’t blow the storyline of this song, which is all about accepting each other for who you are,” he added.
Nicholas Petricca, Walk the Moon’s frontman, confirms that this is precisely what his song preaches – diversity and acceptance.
“With this song in particular, it’s such a different side of us and has this message that’s important to us about diversity and celebrating each other’s differences,” he said in a Billboard interview June.
AT&T’s campaign will run through the end of the month and offers a chance for participants to win a trip to see Walk the Moon live by sumbitting of an original ASL video for “Different Colors.”