Father’s Day is just around the corner, and in honor that we have a special video premiere from Hamilton-based Radio Free Universe. The video is for the band’s track, ‘Circle,” which is from the groups 2020 release, “Love.”
The video is directed and edited by Max McNeil Smith, and what makes this one extra special is that it features the children of the band and director. It was originally shot back in 2020, and planned for release shortly after, but was put on hiatus due to the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that things are looking more optimistic in terms of not only music, but daily life, now is the perfect opportunity to release the video, especially near Father’s Day.
George Panagopoulos comments:
After almost a year and half in lockdown, we’ve all grown to miss playing the music live. The one thing we have all gotten to do is spend more time with our families. For me this song was written about my life with my family. Something I’ve been incredibly grateful to have through this long and seemingly endless place this pandemic has left many of us in. We are closer now than ever before.
Songwriter and producer Mark McMaster adds:
When this song was written, George’s kids were 5 and 2 and the responsibilities of being parents in a young family had made it difficult for him and his wife to make time for each other. The song is the recognition of this lapse and a call to “see” each other and recommit to the marriage. The Circle of the title refers to the flowers that encircled the couple on a beach in Cuba when they were married and of course the ring as a symbol of eternity.
Video director Max Smith had for some time been kicking around the idea of having children lip-synch and airplay in a music video when we first talked to him about directing the video for Circle. He showed us a thirty-second test that included the girls playing isolated guitar and bass parts from the intro on toy instruments and we gave him the go ahead immediately.
The first half of the video was shot in the kids’ playroom in the director’s home where they play on toy instruments and sing into toy mics. The kids then move to the studio where the song was recorded and get to use real instruments and mics.
The album which features the track is now on Amazon, which you can get here.
More On Radio Free Universe
“Sound is the first thing we experience as human beings. Before we open our eyes in the womb, we hear vibrations” explains George. “It starts the entire universal cycle. When you slow your heart rate down, focus on your breath, and get in touch with everything, it comes from one sound. The sound connects us to all of existence. A song may come to our antenna. Then, we share it with the antennas of listeners. We open the channel up.”
Years prior to forming George had envisioned the name and it stuck with him. He recalls, “I woke up one day and I thought, ‘If I make a band, I’m going to call it Radio Free Universe.’ At this point I had no idea what the name meant; it was all intuition. My inner self was telling me something years before I figured it out for myself. What it was saying was ‘make music that speaks the truth.
Broadcast the music of the universe and the songs it has to give, not what I think would sound good on alternative radio.’ There was no questioning it.”
Radio Free Universe released their first album Thirteen Day Hangover in 2013 and had recorded four songs for the follow up Casa del Diablo when George met writer and producer Mark McMaster in 2014.
A few years earlier, Mark had purchased a century-old inner-city church and converted it into a premiere recording studio outfitted with top shelf analog gear. The two started writing and recording together and by the end of 2014 they became partners in Downtown Hamilton’s Sanctuary Recording Studio.
In 2016 they co-founded Jetpack Records out of the space. Bringing their collective vision to life, the two incorporate a hybrid of the best of both old-school and modern technology and methods, both in the recording studio and on the songs on Radio Free Universe’s album Love.
The album Casa del Diablo was released in 2017 as the two started crafting the songs that would eventually comprise Love. The band paved the way for Love with three single song releases “Love Right Now,” “Even Angels,” and “She’s High Again.” Combined the songs on Love have surpassed 1 Million Spotify streams to date.
The follow-up single and album opener “Love Right Now” illuminates the scope of the band’s style. Ethereal guitar and a steady beat give way to falsetto-punctuated verses from George. Meanwhile, the frontman’s powerful pipes take hold on the hypnotic hook alongside shimmering keys.
“Social media has created an atmosphere of divisiveness,” he says. “I’m the worst! The song is talking to me, because I’m such an asshole on my Facebook profile to people I disagree with. I’m realizing what I need to do is be more inclusive and understand why others have the ideas they do—even though I disagree with them. It comes down to seeing the humanity in others, listening, and accepting them.”
Elsewhere, “Circle” delivers a delicate homage to eternal love with a soaring string section and a heartfelt refrain, “Forever you and I, in a circle unbroken.”
“It’s to my wife,” he smiles. “We’ve been together ten years now. Sometimes, the relationship can be like two ships in the night, because I’m so busy and she’s busy. However, even if she’s on one side of the circle and I’m on the other, it’s still a circle. We’re in it together.”
With a string of tours and more music on the horizon, expect the power of the Radio Free Universe broadcast to impact beyond borders.
Referring to the news transmission that was established at the beginning of the Cold War to broadcast uncensored information to audiences behind the Iron Curtain, George explains, “in history, ‘Radio Free Europe’ was a way for people to hear truth when they couldn’t access it.” “We want to give everybody genre-free real music. We’re transmitting these pockets of energy and we hope you dig it.”