It’s macabrely on point that Ernest Ellis dropped his new single, “Be The Pariah,” in the Age of COVID. Or really, we’re not sure if the song is a single or the score to a short film. The music video or short film scored to “Be The Pariah” follows Shawn, the song’s protagonist, as he checks into the kind of spooky, Americana-laced motel that inhabits our coastal nightmares, plays a split-personality checkers match then unravels into what appears to be a paranoid delusion. Emphasis on ‘appears to be.
What’s dope about the “Be The Pariah” song/film is that it feels completely integrated in a non-trite way. There’s enough dissonance between the song lyrics plus tempo and the action of the film that the piece doesn’t fall into any cliches or campiness that often accompany a video narrating the lyrics of a song. Despite their immediately apparent interconnectivity, the interpretive space between the contents of song and film, plus Ellis’s equal aptitude for musical and cinematic creation, is where “Be The Pariah”’s weird beauty really blossoms.
Which makes sense. Roland “Ernest” Ellis is not a pariah, but an enigma: self-consciously circumspect of mainstream culture, committed to analog means of production, and an Australian who possesses a Ph. D in English, Ellis is a rare dude. In short, it’s a treat to see a high-level mind express itself so fully.
It’s an even greater treat to premier Ellis’s music video for “Be The Pariah.”