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Seattle band King Youngblood gives voice to marginalized with new single

Seattle-based band King Youngblood mixes music and activism to help the movement toward racial justice with their new single, 'Opaque.'

Watching the video for King Youngblood's new single 'Opaque,' you might notice the images encapsulate what 2020 has been defined by: pandemic and protest. 

For the bands' members, combining the two is a purpose-driven move to send a message.

"As a band fronted by three brown dudes, for us, intersectionality has always been woven into what we do," said Cameron Lavi Jones, King Youngblood's founding member, lead vocalist and guitarist. 

Lavi Jones, who describes himself as a "second generation Black activist" as his father was a member of the Black Panther Party, along with electric cellist Cory Cavazos, and bassist Hamoon Milaninia, are the members of the Seattle-based band and identify as men of color. 

They say their new single 'Opaque' is about uplifting voices that aren't often listened to.

"It's about making sure that oppressed peoples everywhere are seen for who they are. Not for being the token Black friend or not for being the person responsible for changing the world, but rather, someone that is a human being trying to make a conscious effort," said Lavi Jones. 

The music video for 'Opaque' is full of imagery on-brand for 2020: face masks, rubber gloves, socially distancing, even bread baking. Also felt in the imagery are emotions of frustration and anger. These were no mistake, as the band says marginalized folks, especially in Black and Brown communities, are hurting the most from the pandemic as they are from racial injustices.

"It's two simultaneous issues that kind of agitate each other, but are also really important to highlight because they're both issues that affect marginalized people," said Lavi Jones. 

For the members, filing the video was a form of catharsis during a turbulent time. 

"Coming together for the first time in like two to three months and also just coming together in this broken world and all these things happening, you can see through the video our emotions we are experiencing right then and there," said Cavazos. 

In the video, Cavazos smashes a cello, an instrument that has meant a lot to him. He says the destruction was symbolic. 

"It felt like that's what is happening to me in my voice, so just to be able to express that feeling was so empowering," he said. 

While 'Opaque' echoes the band's perspective of 2020, it was actually written years ago. They say the fact it continues to relate to current events only emphasizes their message -- marginalized voices need to be heard.

"I wish that we didn't have to continue to make music to talk about these things and I wish that we saw these things solved, but as long as there are these issues, we will always be writing songs like 'Opaque,'" said Lavi Jones. 

The mixing of music and message has been a part of the band's DNA from the beginning. 

During the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, the band organized a day of speeches, art, and performances called, "This Ain't A Picnic." The goal of the program was to not only boost BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) but to remind protesters not to lose sight of the fight for racial equity and equal justice.

King Youngblood also runs a non-profit called "Hold Your Crown," which aims to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness in young adults. Cavazos is the non-profit's executive director. 

RELATED: Seattle rock band has message for fans: It's OK to talk about mental health

"I don't think we're going to change the world overnight, but having any kind of power or any kind of influence, I feel like you have to use that toward the kind of good that you believe in," said Milaninia.

While 2020 may not be the year of a sold-out live tour for King Youngblood, they hope it's the year that folks like them can find their voice.

"There's so much work to do to continue the fight to know justice," said Lavi Jones. 

The band says its working on an acoustic recording of 'Opaque' as well as a radio show called, "The Revolution will be Harmonized," which will discuss issues related to the current movement for social justice. 

For updates on King Youngblood, follow them on social media

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