“To find out who ain’t real / And what is true / Transparency revealed…”
Nanaimo, BC singer-songwriter Laura Kelsey first appeared on our pages last summer, sharing a visually stunning wintry themed video (to help cool us down from those high temps) in one of our recurring Video Vault features for her single, “The Cold Makes You.” This strong first impression inspired a little deeper research into her artistic talent, and unearthed not only the musical past of this west coast music scene veteran, but one who has made equally talented forays into the world of poetry and cinematography too.
Following up with her single, “Your Stormy Ways,” just a couple of months after discovering her music, Laura’s fusion of indie folk-rock quickly became a permanent fixture to our new music radar. Having previously fronted everything from death metal to blues bands, the versatility offered here within her solo venture proves incredibly captivating. My mind fills with thoughts of Evanescence when hearing these tunes – and even if a little more somber in nature and pace to this 90s US rock band, the vocal similarity and delivery style between Laura and Amy Lee are almost uncanny – and is further reinforced by “Beyond The Tide,” Laura’s latest single and video release that we are delighted to premiere here today.
“We stand beyond the tide / Cutting strings that twist and bind / If we listen, we might find / That the water speaks inside… each mind.” Recorded and produced by Winston Hauschild (Hannah Georgas / Mike Edel) at Treehouse Studio on Bowen Island, BC, some calming tidal waves offer brief solitude to commence this tune, before ringing guitars and notable deep bass riffs splash into the speakers around us. “Beyond The Tide could be classified as psychedelic folk rock,” Laura shares. “The song dives into finding out ‘who ain’t real and what is true,’ and the stark reality that can be waiting on the other side of illusion.”
Given that “The Cold Makes You” video release last summer shared those wintry visuals, it is only fitting that the music video for this late January release be loaded with summer skies and the clear waters of the Salish Sea, right? Filmed back in August 2022 with videographer Jessie Zhang on Protection Island (off the coast of Nanaimo – both traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw First Nation), the on-screen adventures of Laura and her ‘silver man’ taking place in a rowboat out on those waters delight us aesthetically, whilst leaving our senses almost tasting the saltwater sea air – and deepening an exploration between the natural landscape of Vancouver Island with the themes of the song.
Allow your mind to wander as you absorb both the simple and complex details from the scenes captured and presented. What is the significance of the stark, single red rose that sits atop the shoulders of the silver man? Do the similarities in color between the protagonist’s hair and the rose represent a bond, a boundary, or both? What can be deduced from the headless silver man and the protagonist’s silver mask – a covering removed once the silver man is banished beneath the waters? And what of the visual dichotomy between the harsh, rocky shoreline and those safe, calming waves – or of the paddle strokes that seek to escape, yet face an eternal resistance from the deeper depths of the undercurrents? “Like the waves / Crashing down on you / Like the waves / Crashing down on you…”
“We filmed on Protection Island, which is only reachable by private boat or foot passenger ferry,” Laura recalls about her preparations for the video shoot. “You better believe lugging that ‘silver man’ around was a bit of a struggle. I had [him], his arms and a camera tripod on a small two-wheeled dolly and thought I might have to buy a ferry ticket for the mannequin too. I did get some strange looks carrying around these silver body parts.” Laura also shares a little about the challenges that videographer Jessie Zhang also faced once Laura and her props docked at Protection Island. “There are few cars on the island and people just zip around on golf carts. It was a blast adventuring across the island with ‘silver man’ strapped to the back of the cart as we scouted locations and picked up a rowboat,” she recalls. “One resident let us borrow his boat, which Jessie had to row from his home to our filming spot. This created two challenges: Jessie had never rowed a boat and I had never driven a golf cart. We both managed to reach our destination and spent the day filming.”
Given my strong leanings towards some of the harder rock bands of the mid 80s through very early 90s, I will always recognize, and hold in high regard, an artist that incorporates some of the unwritten time-honored traditions of the genre into their own work. Cue the 2:30 mark on the track’s timeline, where a momentary shift drops the adrenaline – lowering your pulse through the finger-picked guitar strings set against discreet electric guitar wails – TIMELESS! Laura’s temporary softening of her voice itself a moment of solace (do you detect seagulls passing by?), yet never dulling our expectation to rebuild the intensity, the drums “crashing down on you…” – ANOTHER BOX CHECKED! Bring in some powerful harmonies for maximum vocal impact and final refrain, a monumental closing cry, those few lingering guitar strums – CHECK, CHECK, and CHECK. A simple, but definitive muted cymbal crash and guitar strum fade out – PERFECT!
“Beyond The Tide” shall appear on Laura’s upcoming debut EP, “Hunting Season,” scheduled for release in April. For those of you out on the west coast, Laura is planning an EP release party at The Globe in Nanaimo, with support from Vancouver folk musician Pauline Edwards.
Photo Credit: Jessie Zhang