Today, January 10th, marks the third anniversary of the death of David Bowie.
Everyone who mourned his passing did so in their own way, but when it comes to Kelsey Waters, her grief took on a life of its own. "We wrote this song just a few days after Bowie passed," she says of her single "I Pour." "There's something about losing an icon like that. It really hits you." The song chronicles a multitude of sorrows, but with a chorus line that keeps coming back to the deceased rock deity. It's been available to stream for several months now and gathered some acclaim, but today's drop of the video (exclusive to PopDust) provides an easy opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and get to know Ms. Waters before the world starts talking about her.
The strings of a guitar loaded with 60s surf sound are shucked as a drum kick starts the engine on the track. Retro, Animals-style organ fills in the sound. Waters' sultry voice warms the song and spreads her woes on the ground. She tells a story of heartbreak, both romantic and cosmic, all of this melancholy inciting her to drink. She talks about turning a shot glass gold and gripes about life decisions. Bigger, growling guitars build the sound up and up, and she pounds away at her mantra, sinking shot after shot. She mourns her former lover, her bed, Ziggy Stardust, and wishes she'd moved to LA. Rain pours over her, so she pours back; it's a simple but effective sentiment. Upon finishing the song, it begs a second listen. Then a third. Then a fourth.
5 Quick Questions:
What was the inspiration for the song?
Love. Loss. Grief. Coping (not particularly in a healthy way)
If you could sum up the video in five words or less, what would it be?
My 20's in a nutshell
Given that it comes up so much in the song, what's your drink of choice?
Tequila, soda and lime
If you could get this song featured on a TV show/film, which one would it be?
Does VH1 still do "Pop Up Video"? Is TRL still a thing? Seriously.
If you had a wish for this song, what would it be?
That Brandi Carlile is sitting down for tea one day, hears it on the radio, and asks to fly me in for a writing session…I don't ask for much!
Waters says, "I'm obviously a Bowie fan and his death was difficult for me and so many of my friends. I sat down in a room with my co-writer and we hashed out Bowie's death and what it's like to miss someone... Whether it's a hero, an old lover, etc." In doing so, Waters captured a melange of anguish that feels both specific and universal. "Being so young and having to learn very quickly what it's like to grieve also means having to learn to cope," she says, building to a further revelation, "In January of 2018, I lost my mother unexpectedly, and I had to learn how to get through that on an entirely new level." While this happened after the song was written, Waters' mother ended up being a significant part of the video's development. "When we recorded the music video for this song, her old modeling photos were sprinkled around the bedroom for inspiration," she confides. "I use her pictures and her memory in a lot of my work now." Knowing this gives the video an eerie, yet strangely enthralling new depth.
In moody, dark oranges, the video comes into focus. We see a pool, a bed, and empty bottle after empty bottle. Our hero sits up in bed and takes a drink as the lyrics hit the air. She sings as every symptom of a soul in turmoil flies across the screen in short cuts. She gets out of bed and takes a bottle with her. As she showers, we see flashbacks of the lover she sings about. Smash cut to a bar. Drinking intensifies. Socializing and smoking ensue. Our singer goes to the bathroom to lament and disintegrate ever so slightly. Then we're back at the pool. Waters struts, drinks, and sports a Bowie shirt. All these images start to collide in turmoil, and the airs of grace and balance collapse as the pacing speeds up. Amid memories of pain, Waters submerges herself in the pool. Then she pours another one.
"We made this video with a super badass, all female squad… aside from the male actors and extras," she says of the production process. "From the art direction to the makeup artist, all six of us girls camped out in a beautiful home in Chattanooga, TN and made this happen together. I'm so proud of that." That female angle is evident in the video. While it features many shots of Waters in various states of undress, they all feel free of a lurid male gaze. Instead, the cinematic emphasis is on the psychological state of the subject. "Sarah [Holbrook, the director and videographer] literally kicked everyone off the set, crawled into the shower with me during filming, and helped me through the most emotional scene," Waters affirms in her testimony.
Holbrook's work on the project proved integral, being everything Waters wanted and more. "We were on the same page as far as: the aesthetics needed to stay dark, there needed to be a lot of alcohol, and my character had to show that she was grieving and coping all at once," she describes. "Bringing in the the male character (Sarah's idea) for all of the bedroom scenes ended up being the most important factor… we needed to show who my character was grieving… Also, if you ever see a photo of my boyfriend, you'll know why I chose that model. #twinning." Asked about how she wanted to be depicted in the video, she responds humorously, "I walked around most of the time in my boyfriend's t-shirt and all of the alcohol consumption was real... I pretty much just want to be seen as myself."
Waters' video for "I Pour" is a rocky little ode to pain. It features female artists working to their full potential and shows off Kelsey Waters as the badass that she is. Her sound and look can be summed up as, "Girl who would beat Avril Lavigne in a drinking contest." She's got attitude, genuine rock and roll chops, and a command of emotionality that walks the fine middleground between bitter and dramatic. Above all, she just sounds good. Raise a glass and enjoy; Kelsey Waters is pouring.
Thomas Burns Scully is a Popdust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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