My latest single, ‘Oppenheimer Park’, officially released on all platforms Friday, November 19th. You can buy the single and listen here – https://kelefleming.bandcamp.com/track/oppenheimer-park
The lyric video is also available on my YouTube channel – https://youtu.be/8FT1GU3IU9o
Song written by Kele Fleming
Kele Fleming – Vocals, guitars
Aaron Trory – Bass
Tony Lee – Drums
Ron Yamauchi – Piano, keys
Scott Fletcher – electric guitar
Recorded, engineered and mixed by Sheldon Zaharko of Zed Productions at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, Canada.
Mastered by Andrew Spindor at Railtown Mastering.
Lyric video production by JayFet Films
Single cover by Matt Laforest of Laforest Creative
About the song
‘Oppenheimer Park’ is a reflective and compassionate ballad that escalates into a soaring, uplifting folk rock epic. I wrote it in the spirit of a classic singer-songwriter protest song and played it solo for many years. On this reimagining of one of my catalogue tracks, the layers of vocals and instrumentation contributed by my virtuoso band really allowed the song to lift off. There’s so much depth and space in the song for grand musical gestures, haunting melodies and poetic lyrics that rage against the colonial, capitalist machine.
I wrote ‘Oppenheimer Park’ a number of years ago and it was an early release for the band I fronted many moons ago, hazel motes. This song was originally released as part of a demo tape in the 1990’s and charted on college radio across Canada at the time. The song began as a series of poetic verses scribbled in the worn notebook that I carried with me in my backpack on my long bus commutes to work. Each day my bus would weave it’s way through Vancouver, travelling from the poor, working class east side of the city to the wealthy, privileged west side and on to the university where I worked at the time. Oppenheimer Park is actually a park in real life in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, one of the city’s oldest and the country’s poorest neighbourhoods – the site of a complexity of social issues including very visible poverty, homelessness, survival sex trade work and drug addiction.
Writing this song marks the beginning of my reconciliation journey as a settler Canadian – it was in these moments of self reflection and self-directed research that I became aware of the traumatic and terrible impacts of colonialism on Indigenous people. My awareness at the time was nascent and it would be a few years later that I learned about the truth of the genocide that took place in Canada’s Residential School System.
It’s important to also embrace the creativity and spirit alive in the park and in the neighbourhood. It is also a very dynamic and vibrant place. A number of years after I penned the lyrics to this song, I volunteered at The WISH Drop-in Centre in the Downtown Eastside. WISH provides non-judgemental care and sanctuary for women who work in the survival sex trade in the neighbourhood. The centre provides food, clothing, showers, healthcare and sometimes just a safe place to retreat. The Centre is staffed by many women from the neighbourhood (many of them Indigenous) and I worked alongside and was honoured to learn from many of them during my time there. In this way, the song is also about rebirth and how sharing and celebrating culture can be a pathway to awakening and healing.
‘At nite ask the questions
the morning will obscure
in those moments when your self
will crumble for sure.’