“It started in the garden / It started in the trees / You took me to the garden / And you took me to the trees / Put feathers in your pockets / You showed me ancient trees / I told you I was dangerous / Yet you still devoured me.”
Nanaimo, BC chamber-folk/pop singer-songwriter Elise Boulanger is excited to share “It Started In The Garden,” her latest single released today. With its shimmering and tormented string passages and howling vocals, it is such a contrast to her 2020 “Cigarettes et rosé” single, instead offering moody and ethereal cinematic dreamscapes strongly influenced by her own love of nature and passion for environmental advocacy. “It may be the simplest song I have written,” Elise shares. “I began writing this song while doing a sound production internship in Belize. I was sitting on a log at the edge of the sea trying to write a Radiohead-like song.”
“If you hear them calling / The wolves around your knees / They remember that you fed me / Nootka roses in the trees / Latency is ringing / But the flowers are still sweet / I no longer hear you singing / You no longer long for me.”
“It’s more than a dark and moody love story of when you do something you love with someone you love, and then they turn around and do it with someone else,” Elise offers. “There is a German word known as waldlust. I think this is one of the most beautiful words as it translates into forest lust. This song is waldlust for both the love of the forest and the romanticism of being in the forest with your love. As a passionate environmentalist, I’ve partnered with environmental organizations to raise awareness for the indelible importance of biodiversity in the face of climate change.”
“It ended in the garden / It ended in the trees / You took her to the garden / And you took her under the trees / … / Soon the trees will take you / While your ivy clings to me / Wrapped up in what was before / Pining melancholy sore.”
Elise lists the Nanaimo Area Land Trust as one such organization with whom she is collaborating, and as you listen and carefully absorb the lyrics, you’ll hear mention of native and invasive plant species such as Nootka Roses and Ivy – allowing us all to learn and live in a more resilient and supportive manner. “Ivy, specifically English Ivy, is an invasive plant in the Pacific Northwest that clings onto everything, wraps itself up and around to eventually strangle another plant to death,” she offers, in reference made about this particular pest. “Whenever you end any sort of relationship with someone or something, there is always a part of it that stays with you in an achingly nostalgic way.”
Accompanying the single is an outstanding music video that builds visually on these themes, filmed on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Nation, and captured perfectly by director Raymond Knight. Set against a beautiful backdrop of intoxicating gardens and wild forests, the video features some beautiful choreography that connects Elise with Vancouver-based actor (and fellow conservationist) Dacotah Ateah. “We were very attentive in choosing when to shoot the music video because we needed the big blooms … flowers were a big part of the aesthetic,” explains Elise. “I had been going down to the local flower shop for weeks on end collecting the excess rose petals from their bouquets … [which] were ultimately used in the video by two people standing above us shaking them down. Raymond had this vision of rose petals being sucked up off of us in reverse. It’s a really cool shot.”
“I will taste all of the roses, Nootka roses, sweet sweet roses / I will taste all of the roses / Hoping that they will help heal me / You can find me in the garden / You can find me in the trees / Eating roses in the garden / Hoping that you will come kiss me.”
“The lyric, ‘I will taste all of the roses,’ is significant to me because of how much nature can make people feel better, how we go to nature for solace, grounding a comfort,” Elise shares. “The roses are medicinal to the sorrow of this relationship’s ending. Nature provides so much if we take the time to understand, respect, and nurture it.” Yet while the dance routines, the locations, and the flora and fauna all combine to create videography that is pure magic, it is the on-screen presence of Tundra, a gorgeous gray wolf, that adds the icing atop this cake. I personally have a lifelong place in my heart for these magnificent creatures, and Tundra’s inclusion not only had me watching the video on repeat for a while, it also guaranteed that I’d be only too happy to share here today for many others to enjoy too.
From Boulanger’s ukulele and haunting voice, to the atmospheric strings and soaring high notes as the song develops, this is an outstanding new single, brought to life even more so thanks to the fabulous music video. It truly is hard to believe that this is a debut video from Elise Boulanger, who sets an incredible precedent for all future releases. “I am always trying to show people nature’s beauty so that we can better appreciate it and respect the earth,” she adds in closing. “So much of what I do is rooted in respecting the environment, our land, [and] our home.” Rest assured that Team GDW are keeping our eyes on this British Columbia native, because we are just as curious – how does Elise top this, and where shall she go from here?
Photo Credit: Laura Baldwinson