It's bitter, beautiful, and rocky as hell. You want some of what Kelsey Waters is pouring.
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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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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