Luc and the Lovingtons are a self-described world-soul-reggae band. After forming a decade ago, the band has become known for their energetic performances, positive lyrics and live-painting acts on stage. Grammy award-winning singer Jason Mraz called them one of his new favorite groups, and served as executive producer for the video of their newly-released single “Welcome to My House.”
Luc Reynaud, the band’s founder and lead singer and a native of Washington’s Methow-Valley, takes us behind-the-scenes and talks about the music video for “Welcome to My House.” The video was filmed at a Syrian refugee camp and showcases children living there who emulate happiness and joy — which is rarely seen in the mainstream media.
Tell me about the band Luc and the Lovingtons.
A requirement to be in (the band) is to have a ton of love. This band is made of big hearts. Humanitarianism has always been a part of the band. Our intention is to add love to peoples’ hearts.
What is the “Welcome to My House” project?
Our band painter Benjamin Swartez (who paints onstage during performances) came up with the idea after connecting with a staff member of Voices of the Children (a non-profit based in Mt. Vernon that facilitates art projects within refugee camps). They both happened to be in the Congo at the same time and I felt it was absolute fate, since our touring style is based on music and art for people facing adversity. The music video project was done in full collaboration with Voices of the Children. Neither one of us could have done it without the other.
What do the words “Welcome to My House” mean to you?
To me, it means welcome to my heart. Humanitarianism has always been a big part of the band. Our intention is to add love to people’s hearts.
Why did you initially visit the Zaatari refugee camp?
When we first visited the camp in February, 2016, we wanted to take our music to people who can’t pay for it. During our first trip we did free photography, art and song-writing classes. On the final day, I shared our song “Welcome to my House” with the kids and they sang the chorus of the song in Arabic. I felt like they were singing from the bottom of their hearts here in this refugee camp and we decided on the flight home that we wanted to make a music video depicting this love and hospitality.
What are some of the logistical challenges with filming a music video in a refugee camp outside of Syria?
The Zaatari refugee camp is really hard to get into. You need to have a connection with an NGO (non-governmental organization) which luckily we had through Voices of the Children. Once we got in we could only stay until 3:00 p.m. each day.
We also needed to raise $25,000 for seven of us to travel and film the music video. I had a relationship with Jason Mraz and his foundation ended up financing the plane tickets for us. Crowdfunding filled in the rest. It took six months, but we were able to return in August of that same year and film over two weeks at the camp.
What was the crowdfunding like?
It was incredible. You really feel like the community gets behind you and believes in what you are doing.
What was the goal of the music video?
Tragic images are important, but we wanted to show that love and joy is important too. It makes you feel even more bonded.
Moe Najati, the director of the music video, hoped that by the end of the video, people watching it just see people and unity and joy. We wanted to show Syrians and Americans in harmony. We wanted to dissolve the title of “other”.
There’s another part of the video shot in America — in Mount. Vernon, Wash. to be specific. Why there?
That's the home of Voices of the Children, the organization we worked with to make it all happen. It's the youth from Mount Vernon who are also a part of Voices of the Children that star in the video and sing back and forth with the Syrian Youth from the Zaatari refugee camp. These Mount Vernon Youth were a part of the creation of Voices of the Children and had already developed a relationship with Syrian kids from Zaatari through the organization as they had collaborated on murals together remotely from across the globe.
What’s the reaction been to the video?
People have been sharing it like crazy. I get a lot of people saying “thank you” for humanizing the refugees and kids. They got to feel their love and their smiles. I think people need it right now. (The video has over 138,000 views between Facebook and youtube posts as well as being featured on Al Jazeera Turkey).
What are your hopes for 2017?
I hope that people will really work to communicate and band together and seek to know “the other”. Take the time and whatever you do, move out of love.
Stacey Jenkins is the Managing Producer of What's Good 206. She is an Emmy-award winning producer who is passionate about pushing the boundaries of digital media and training the next generation of multimedia journalists. Stacey has been a Digital Content Producer at KCTS 9 for the past four years; her stories have been showcased locally on IN Close as well as nationally on SciTech Now and the PBS NewsHour's Art Beat. Stacey’s experience also includes working as a senior producer for KPTS, as an assistant media instructor and producer for Portland Community College and a TV news reporter for the CBC in Canada.
Fun Fact: Stacey’s guilty pleasures include over-the-top Halloween decor, eating sweetened condensed milk straight from the can and Maroon 5’s “Sugar” video.More stories by Stacey Jenkins