The Inside Track: Actionesse - 'Self-Subterfuge'

Singer and guitarist Ian Reed writes: "Self-Subterfuge or “Self-Sub,” as the band refers to it, started as a joke. Lyrically speaking, I wrote the song about literally having to undergo plastic surgery to become a spy. I expanded upon the joke and wrote about things I think a spy would encounter. I drew a lot of this from my love of James Bond movies. After most of the lyrics were complete, I decided to add a verse that features my usual sense of self-deprecation, which inspired the title. I have fond memories of learning to master the intro on guitar, which is a part that I screw up live to this day.”

Baritone sax player and singer Obi Guinn writes: “Warrior-poet Cardi B, in an early interview, said “I make music for bad bitches to fight to.” While Self-Subterfuge might not exactly be bad bitch fightin’ music, it definitely is weird kid surviving music. I started performing in the gutters of Seattle with a few street band outfits, where there was often very little separation of delicate brass instruments from the rowdy crowds. Often when I played, I literally felt like I was going into battle against mosh pits and the flailing limbs of people completely lost in the moment. Self-Sub, to me, completely encapsulates that feeling. It was the first song I was involved with during the writing process, when I first joined the band back in 2018. I was instantly mesmerized by the rhythmic pulse and driving pace of the song, the way it rattled my ribcage and how it naturally made me assume an almost defensive position against the audience when we played it. Self-Sub strikes me as the soundtrack of an aerial dogfight, maybe the Red Baron versus the Royal Flying Corps, or Luke versus the entire Imperial Fleet. Our live performances of it are energetic and lively, with just enough goof and levity to highlight our raw happiness of being on stage. The music is joyful, but gritty. Dark, with smatterings of light. Heavy, but like a weighted blanket on a cold night, calming. I always thank people for enjoying it.”

Self-Subterfuge was written in 2018, and recorded by Actionesse at Mysterious Red X in Seattle, WA in 2019. The song can be found on their debut album, ‘The Deep, Bright Below’, available on streaming platforms and in physical formats on their online store, which can be found at
Photo credited to Moni Mary-Lou, @monmarphotography.

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