Music

PREMIERE: Kristen Lay Takes Unexpected Turns in New Single and Video

An otherworldly exploration of ‘The Place Beyond’

Kristen Lay gives an enigmatic expression as she parts the veil, passing from cool green light suggesting jungle shade to the hazy yellow of grasslands. She turns slowly and goes further — into the heart of the galaxy, surrounded by spiral stars like swirling snow.

This is just some of the imagery of “The Place Beyond,” a music video directed by Asheville-based filmmaker Kira Bursky coupled to the lyrical inter-dimensional songwriting of Charlotte-based musician and vocalist Kristen Lay. Lay, the only person who appears in the video, says her first single and video are a foretaste of her debut album Be More, scheduled for release on Sept. 30. 

“[The song] applies to the situation in the world right now,” Lay tells Queen City Nerve. “It’s difficult to be here and to be present . It’s like having this other realm to connect to that makes it easy in some ways.”

The song also suggests an inward, almost psychedelic, quest.

Lay sings the chorus as streaming lights, stars and startling images, at one point including a cloudburst of human eyes, are projected onto her and around her.

“Sunsets on the Amazon/ Take me to the place beyond/ Marching where the mighty fall/ In the jungles deep and tall”

Kristen Lay was reading Joseph Conrad’s psychological novel, Heart of Darkness, when she wrote the song, she offers.

“I was really connecting to that imagery of going into the jungle, into the deep dark places where people don’t want to go, exploring the depths of your feelings,” Lay says. “It’s an inner exploration that’s not for the faint of heart.”

Lay discovered Bursky’s work online, where it has garnered more than 34,000 subscribers and 16 million+ YouTube views. 

“I knew that I wanted to work with her,” Lay offers. “I immediately felt like she would be a good fit for my music and for this song especially.” 

The production utilized different methods of projection, Lay offers, mapping fluid imagery on Lay’s face while projecting contrasting visuals behind her.

It’s an approach that matches Kristen Lay’s lush, labyrinthine dream-pop tune. Like Conrad’s river Congo — not, as Lay points out, the Amazon — the song never quite goes where you expect it to. Did Lay slip a few minor keys or strange chords into her arrangement to keep listeners off guard?

“Yesssssss,” Lay replies, stretching the syllable out like a purr before laughing. “I like to do stuff like that. As a listener I’m impatient. I don’t like it when I can predict exactly what a song is going to do. So, I  put some twists and turns in my music.”

THE PLACE BEYOND

Dizzying heights
That is where I wanna be
Lost in the sky
Falling, dying to be free
But look at me
Am I everything I ought to be?

Something’s never been quite right
I’ve been running all my life
Heart burns red but still feels cold
Face so young and soul so old
I’m going where I should have been all along

Sunsets on the Amazon
Take me to the place beyond
Marching where the mighty fall
In the jungles deep and tall

Lost in those eyes
This is where I wanna be
Fate in disguise
Nothing’s what it seems to be
So peacefully
Everybody’s always smiling at me

But something’s never been quite right
Crack my doors but hide my eyes
Heart burns red but still feels cold
Secrets too big to be told
I’m going where I should have been all along

Sunsets on the Amazon
Take me to the place beyond
Marching where the mighty fall
In the jungles deep and tall

Sunsets on the Amazon
Take me to the place beyond
Marching where the mighty fall
In the jungles deep and tall
In the jungles deep and tall
In the jungles deep

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