Sisters Charlene and Liann Kaye Are the Perfect Musician/Video Director Team
"If romantic love is chemical, how can it feel so spiritual?" Liann Kaye, in an effort to answer her own question, has joined an obviously still growing list of artists and creators desperately seeking a bond that can connect science and love. Like those who produced her influences A Clockwork Orange and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaye took to a similar visual form--the music video. Inspired by the cathartic lyrics of the video's song "Animal Love II" written by her older sister, local musician Charlene Kaye, the pair collaborated once again--as they have on all but one of Charlene's videos--to create their most complex and stunning piece yet.
Credit: Amanda Kwok
Charlene Kaye plays Rockwood tonight, 7/16, at 7pm. Watch her new music video after the jump.
As a song, Charlene's album closer "Animal Love II" is more than just a ballad. With a softly dreamy opening verse, its melody shocks as a funky guitar riff bleeds into a much louder chorus. The sound is more of a painful yearning than upbeat dance number as its counterpart and album opener "Animal Love I" plays out. "For me, "Animal Love I" is blind hope and the ecstatic feeling that comes with new love. "Animal Love II" is sort of coming out of that tunnel and processing a loss," says Charlene about the bookends to her 2012 full length, which bears the same name as the pair of songs.
What has marked much of Charlene's songwriting, including that of her folky 2008 debut Things I Will Need in the Past, is a visceral and physical descriptiveness that stemmed from a college-era infatuation with Joni Mitchell's storytelling. "She has such a colorful vocabulary and way of painting a picture of a conversation or circumstance," muses the musical Kaye. "I think about that every time I write."
That particular discovery occurred her freshman year of college at University of Michigan, but pursuit of her current career did not begin for Charlene until her junior. As for filmmaker Liann, Charlene remembers her sister playing with iMovie and creating home movies while in high school. "She was already interested in that, but it took me a long time to really embrace music and consider it a possible career," says Charlene. "It took a lot of overcoming fears and worrying about whether or not I could support myself doing it."
For both sisters, their true rise as artists happened simultaneously. As Charlene began playing shows, Liann began filming them with so much success that other musicians requested she do the same for them. In 2009, the sisters moved beyond concert footage and into the world of music videos where they have truly flourished. "Skin and Bones," the brilliantly lovely duet Charlene recorded with friend, classmate, and Glee star Darren Criss--only known then as Harry Potter in the musical parody of the franchise produced by his theatre production company Team StarKid--became the first collaboration with Liann as director of the visual accompaniment to Charlene's songs. Starring Charlene and Darren, the video tells the story of a long distance relationship and utilized paper props crafted by Charlene that helped keep the team within their $100 budget. The project inspired the name for Liann's production company Paper Frame Productions.