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Watch Oakland Dream Pop Project Rose Haze’s Video for Their Cover Cocteau Twins’ “Heaven or Las Vegas” — Plus Interview

Reaching this itch in my soul
That’s like any old playing card
It must be why I’m thinking of Las Vegas
Why it’s more brighter than the sun is to me

Rose Haze, an enigmatic musical project from Oakland, defies easy categorization. Frontwoman Kate Ramsey exudes an ethereal power, her presence both fierce and otherworldly. A mercurial songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, Ramsey delves into experimental soundscapes and raw, vulnerable lyrics. Her performances, whether on guitar, synths, or bass, accentuate her moody vocals and often improvised movements. Alongside electric violinist and bassist Yoko Miyakawa, and drummer Dustin Coker, their soundscape is vast and experimental.

When Kate Ramsey encountered Ruben Gonzales in early 2019, they discovered a unique musical bond, which they described as an “eternal marriage in music.” This partnership transformed Rose Haze from its progressive rock roots into a blend of dream pop, shoegaze, new wave, psych rock, and experimental noise. Their musical synergy drew comparisons to Cocteau Twins, inspiring them to record an astonishingly faithful cover of  Heaven or Las Vegas. Together, they redefined the band’s sound, weaving their talents into a hauntingly beautiful collaboration that echoes their profound connection.

Originally released in 1990, Heaven or Las Vegas showcases Elizabeth Fraser’s enigmatic lyrics, drawn from personal experiences such as the birth of her daughter and her relationship with bandmate Robin Guthrie. The song masterfully blends dream-pop elements with lush, atmospheric production, cementing its place as a defining piece in the Cocteau Twins’ repertoire, brimming with haunting beauty and emotional resonance. Kate Ramsey’s vocals channel Fraser’s ethereal voice with a rare and profound authenticity, capturing the song’s essence in a way that few others could achieve.

Gonzales tragically passed away on January 31, 2024, at the young age of 37, succumbing to complications of lymphoma, an illness unknown to everyone – including himself. On the day he left this world, Rose Haze received the final mix of their cover of “Heaven or Las Vegas.” Initially a tribute to Cocteau Twins, the song has transformed into a sacred piece to honor their beloved Gonzales. Rose Haze chose this track because Ramsey loved the challenge of deciphering its lyrics, adored the melody, and knew that Gonzales’s brilliance on the guitars would shine through, making it a fitting homage to his memory.

Haze recalls that Gonzales wasn’t so keen on covering Heaven or Las Vegas at first, but the track grew on him as he discovered its nuances during recording. At first Ramsey wanted to go in a more unique direction, but after hearing Gonzales’s guitar tracks, decided to keep it a more faithful interpretation to the original.

The video is a poignant encomium for the band’s deep friendship through montage; a heartfelt tribute to the creative synergy and partnership that will forever endure. It is a touching and enduring gesture, a love letter to a bond that transcends time, capturing the essence of their shared journey and the irreplaceable connection they forged as Rose Haze.

Kate Ramsey spoke more about the creation of the song and music video with Post-Punk.com:

This track and video hold heavy sentiment for you. When you watch the music video now, is it more of a joyful or grieving experience?

Joyful, and I enjoyed putting it together because I felt connected to Ruben.

The DIY feel of this video makes it feel intimate. Can you talk more about the filming and editing process?

This tour footage was just us rolling around in with our VHS cam from coast to coast, capturing all the moments on stage and in-between last November. I intended to eventually throw the whole tour footage up as is and chop up some parts to use as little fun reels to share with our fans.

But once I released the single, the idea came to me to put the tour footage to this song to create a lasting visual to celebrate Ruben. It feels like after making this, I can start to take the steps to move forward.

I purposefully chose as many silly or cute moments as possible against the fast movement of moving from place to place. to capture what really goes on with a DIY indie band on tour across the country. of course, the end is a bit macabre, but as an artist, I like the juxtaposition of us holding hands down the aisle in St. Roch cemetery in New Orleans. I actually had us go there to capture footage because I had made a music video there once that I lost and I was so mad about that. I wanted to recapture footage. little did I know how much of a premonition it was. That final scene is a visual representation of my relationship with Ruben. Holding hands like recess playmates with not a care in the world no matter what’s going on around us.

I got lost in my head many times while editing the video, but to my surprise, i didn’t cry. it was healing to create and I felt a lot of gratitude that I worked really hard to book that indie national tour in November because I never could’ve imagined it was our last and now it’s one of my most cherished memories captured on fuzzy grainy VHS.

Is there a part or moment in the music video you feel encapsulates who “Rose Haze” is as a band best?

The scene of Ruben and I playing as a duo with my winged outfit and the close-ups of his guitar playing when the first chorus comes in. Ruben shredded his Jazzmaster and me playing at least 2 different instruments while doing witchcraft. that was truly Rose Haze. As we move forward, we are finishing the album we started with him and reworking our musical roles to continue forward with our sound and aesthetic with Ruben in spirit.

Rose Haze is in the midst of re-working the album and tour plans with the passing of Ruben Gonzales.

Follow Rose Haze:

Alice Teeple

Alice Teeple is a photographer, multidisciplinary artist, and writer. She is not in Tin Machine.

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