By Phil Yiannopolous
Spearheaded by two long-time collaborators and leading figures in the New Orleans progressive music scene Cliff Hines and Sasha Masakowski, the band Hildegard just released their first music video, "A—Z." Directed by New Orleans’ own Zac Manuel—recently featured in New Orleans Film Fest—the video follows Hines, his stalker (Kate Adair), and a ghastly Masakowski. With a playful, Lynchian darkness the attitude remains fast-paced with several quick cuts and edited after effects lending tension to the grim narrative.
Essentially an outgrowth of a former band dubbed "Cliff and Sasha," Hildegard consists of Hines on guitar, Masakowski with vocals, as well as guitarist John Maestas, bassist Max Moran, and drummer Max Zemanovic. While most of the music has remained the same, the rebranding hopes to “change the image so people know what they’re getting into.” And what a good idea — a quick look through their website and one does not find an calm jazz singer/songerwriter duo, but rather an mix of the better sides of progressive-rock, jazz, and electro-pop, layered and fleshed out with a full (and impressive) band.
The rebranding of name has evoked a “stronger presence on stage from the band” and a “vibe change” in their following, Hines states while waiting to be called for his part in recording an upcoming Christian Scott album. He credits his recent work with Gravity A, namely their Stop Making Sense tribute—a necessarily physical performance—as well as his extensive touring with the Mike Dillon Band as learning experiences for better stage presence.
The name Hildegard carries a triple meaning. First, it’s Masakowski’s middle name. However, the name's origin is more significant. Hildegard von Bingen, widely considered the first female composer, started her work in the 12th century. Hines proudly states that choosing “Hildegard” for the name of the band points to the “balance of feminine power and masculine power” in the music. “Having a name tied to the power of women is an important thing… and an awesome thing,” he continues. The name Hildegard also can be translated from Old German as “Battlemaiden.” Badass.
Hildegard usually performs at Gasa Gasa on Freret St., but currently has no New Orleans dates planned. Their year-in-the-making eponymous debut album will be released in January.
Watch the video below