Ramona Gonzalez, Nedelle Torrisi, Julia Holter, Cole M.G.N. - "Condemnation"
In 2017, Domino released the collaborative “Condemnation” 7-inch that featured Julia Holter, Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel), Nedelle Torrisi, and Cole M.G.N. The 45 offers two poignant and updated versions* of the Depeche Mode song (originally released in 1993) and is dedicated to film/video director and artist Travis Peterson, who passed away in 2017. Travis Peterson’s prestigious résumé included work Ariel Pink, Julia Holter, Nite Jewel, and Nedelle Torrisi, among others. The 2017 “Condemnation” single indicates that “[a]ll profits from this 7" will go to Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services “.
Loyal to the spirit of the original version while evoking its own striking tone of vulnerability and beauty, this release features not only a remarkable grouping of musical artists, but also visual contributions from Jennifer Juniper Stratford (known to many for her work with John Maus, Geneva Jacuzzi, her classic Dungeon Majesty, and more). We were curious about the origins and details of this release — including the connection to Travis Peterson and the personnel involved — and in January of 2019, Julia Holter and Nedelle Torrisi were gracious enough to lend helpful background and context.
Julia Holter contextualized the release and its connection to both Travis Peterson and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services:
“This cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Condemnation’ is dedicated to our friend Travis Peterson, who was a filmmaker/video artist who directed and produced videos for all of our music and had a rich community of friends and collaborators in L.A. He was a vibrant force for a lot of people in his world. One of his favorite bands was Depeche Mode, and this song in particular captures some of the questions a lot of us are asking in these days where ‘truth’ and individual thought both feel elusive and sadly underserved. We thought about how a lot of people, including ourselves, need music and also need accessible mental health care, and Didi Hirsch is a nonprofit throughout the L.A. area that provides quality and accessible/affordable mental health services. It seemed like an important cause at a time when so many people are experiencing serious depression and mental stress.”
Nedelle Torrisi lent additional insight (along with a pertinent lyric excerpt) into how Depeche Mode’s “Condemnation” was selected:
“Depeche Mode was one of Travis' favorite bands, if not his favorite. We decided to sing something at his memorial service, so I turned to their catalog first. It was shocking to come across this song, which touches on many things that feel very much like Travis, who was, among many things, an idealist— a beautiful person and artist. The whole ‘if you see purity as immaturity’ line really hits, because I've thought about innocence as a beautiful quality to have and retain through life. But it can be misconstrued and misunderstood. For shame!”
Because my duty
Was always to beauty
That was my crime
If you see purity as immaturity
Well, it's no surprise
For kindness, you substitute blindness
Please open your eyes
Regarding how the personnel and track came together, Nedelle shared the following:
“Julia, Ramona and I are friends and so we just decided to work together on something in memory of our friend. Travis had worked with all of us on music videos. We brought in Cole M.G.N., another of Travis' friends, to help produce and play harmonium.”
We were curious about how Jennifer Juniper Stratford — credited for the single’s artwork— became involved, and Nedelle explained:
“JJ was one of Travis' best friends, and they had worked on many music videos together. It was only natural to ask her to provide the visual for the song. “
*Though Julia Holter confirmed that the group did in fact perform “Condemnation” live at Zebulon, the “live” version was recorded at Cole M.G.N.’s studio in downtown L.A.”