“Winter” by Austin P. McKenzie


Austin P. McKenzie is an American actor of both the stage and screen. He’s best known for the 2015 Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, in which he played the role of Melchior Gabor. A very talented individual, McKenzie is no stranger to pushing boundaries with art. His second album, Nightshade, was released in 2019 and contained a lot of provocative tracks. His song “Winter” is from that album and its music video was released in May, 2020.


Winter still 1

The unnamed young man in the video wears black high top chucks throughout this terrible day.


Typically Broadway singers have a certain tone and quality to their voice that is a dead giveaway they’re from the theatre. Loud and overly emotive usually egregiously get attributed to those that come from the theatre. However, McKenzie doesn’t display any of those qualities on this track. Instead his voice barely comes to a whisper. This whisper is pained and strains to be heard, but that fits with the song’s arrangement. Breathy and raspy, it pairs well with the simple, plucked strings of the guitar. There’s also an echo effect applied to his vocals which really hammers home the ethereal qualities. With the lyric’s allusion to depression, this whole aesthetic has the feel of someone who is in a mental downward spiral.


Winter still 2 

Safest place to stash the cash.


The music video begins with a warning label for disturbing content and that is very appropriate for what’s to follow. The video is shot with a home video style grain over the footage, and follows a first person perspective. It sees a young man get followed and then lured into what one can only assume is a creepy white van. Once he gets in the van, we see he is young and disheveled, wearing jeans, a white tee, and a pair of black chucks. He is then seduced by the camera operator, and then paid for his “services”. Everything is going well until the camera operator becomes aggressive. He starts pushing and hitting the man until finally he ties his hands together. He beats him more and tapes his mouth shut as it dawns on the viewer that they’re witnessing a full-fledged abduction in progress. The man ends up being tied to a tree, still bound and gagged while the cameraman digs a hole. The cameraman makes like Johnny Lawrence and puts the young man in a body bag. He then partially buries him alive, until he stops to remove the tape around the young man’s mouth and reveals that he is smiling through all this. This makes it seem like he is ok with the death he is about to be given, tying us back into the themes of the song. While this is a pretty dark and somewhat graphic video, it does a very good job at conveying the overall tone and themes of the song.


Winter still 3

This video goes to some very dark places.


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