It’s one of the great tragedies that afflicts American society. Gun violence, and the number of innocent victims caught up in it, seems like a storyline that will never go away. That is why Caroline Rose chose to tackle the subject head on in the opening track of her new record I Will Not Be Afraid, released earlier this month. ‘Blood On Your Bootheels’ was written about the horrible case of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old gunned down by a so-called neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012 after stepping out to buy a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman decided that Martin ‘looked suspicious’ – based on what we don’t know – and after a confrontation he shot Martin, who was armed with no more than that bag of Skittles, dead. Zimmerman was then acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges after successfully claiming self-defence. What makes the story worse is that it wasn’t the first time, and it wasn’t the last, that this sort of thing has happened. By the time Rose came to make the video this summer, there was violence on the streets of America once more as citizens reacted angrily to the shooting of another unarmed young black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I wrote the song when I was working at a cider distillery –– no joke, I was living in the upstairs of a barn,” Rose said. “Something was channelling through me, because it’s written from perspectives that aren’t mine, inspired by the Trayvon Martin case. His story was so similar to Emmett Till‘s, the 14-year-old boy who was killed by two white men in Mississippi, who got off completely scot-free. It triggered all these thoughts about peoples’ obsession with guns, how there’s very little escape from violence for young black guys in the US. Then the whole thing in Ferguson happened right before we were supposed to start shooting a video for ‘Blood On Your Bootheels’. It’s powerful stuff.”
Rose was inspired by the image of Martin clutching his bag of Skittles as he was killed and, using somewhere in the region of dozen family size bags of the things, she made this incredible stop-motion video.
“I keep finding Skittles in the pockets of my clothes,” she said. “I got a cavity in my bottom right molar because of it. I highly discourage working in this format, it’s an incredibly time-consuming, painstaking, agonising process that only brings one sleep loss and both physical and mental suffering. It also attracts ants. In other words, I enjoyed the process but I don’t think I’ll be doing another stop-motion video for a while, if ever again.”