Ion, of the Iowa City rap group the AWTHNTKTS, released a new video this week. “Roses,” like his previous video for “Love/Smokes,” was filmed in and around Iowa City, primarily at the historic Englert Theatre.
“A reoccurring theme I’ve had in my music videos is the landmarks of Iowa City, like the real Iowa City landmarks,” Ion said in a recent email. “My last video, ‘Love/Smokes,’ was filmed in the Tobacco Bowl (RIP). ‘Roses’ deals a lot with sort of the everyday facade we put on as we leave the house; some people put more behind their mask while others are almost not wearing one. The Englert is an old building that has some very visible scars. I know it burned down in the ’20s, so it felt appropriate.”
Filmmaker Bruce James Bales was both cinematographer and editor on the video, which was produced by Ion and DEFT. Because of the Englert setting of many of the shots, the video called for stage lighting as well, provided by Jason Reed and Nic Kraft. Bales and First AC John Hennessey Baker took care of the rest of the lighting.
Ion’s commitment to highlighting Iowa City in his work is just one facet of his dedication to the city. “This is my city; I bleed this place,” he said. And although he dismisses the idea that there’s any difference being a rapper in a “flyover state” than elsewhere in the country (“I refuse to acknowledge that shit; it’s super fake”), he does acknowledge that Iowa City has its own unique challenges.
“The music scene is tough here, because people don’t take risks like they used to when it comes to attending a random show; I think the 21 ordinance had a big part in that,” he said. “There’s a big gap between our community and the student body, but we all know that these kids listen to all sorts of music so bridging the two sides of Iowa City is pretty significant.”
Although the video is new, the song has been percolating for a while. Ion notes that anyone who’s been to a show in the last three to four years will probably recognize “Roses.” Its recording, too, was a while in the making — it “was recorded in all sorts of different locations,” Ion said. But fans can rest assured that it heralds more to come.
“I’m really close to finishing a project that will sit somewhere between an EP and an album,” Ion said. “I’m hoping to have it finished around my birthday in early November.”
You can catch Ion tonight with the AWTHNTKTS, opening for the Doomtree Collective’s P.O.S at the Blue Moose Taphouse (tickets $15-18) or tomorrow night solo, opening for Open Mike Eagle at the Maintenance Shop in Ames (tickets $10-12). Track him down on social media at Facebook.com/theonlyion and @theonlyion on Twitter and Instagram.