‘Shades of Blue’ by Kelsey Lu

— Nix Thérèse

Immersion and constant pivots make the short-film-as-music-video genre successful, and a visually-minded artist excels by matching illustrative tone to pitch. Lu is one of the best I’ve seen, with sparse lyrics ringing out into the expanse, her rippling vocals wind through fingers: “you’re like a blazing fire / in the Sahara / on a wind-filled night / moving in all directions.” Wind always eludes its container, perhaps nestling most completely in the ear. Sometimes it’s so close that it transforms into a supple leather whip just grazing skin, sometimes a petulant puppy nipping at our heels. Wind is no friend to those who don’t want to feel their hollow parts intimately, who’d like to forget the blood below their faces, who close themselves to touch. The strength of Lu is simply how she harnesses it.

Her steady determination, despite a wounded vulnerability, makes the chorus similarly pierce through: “I’m not over you, not over you, but I’m over feeling shades of blue.” Visceral, blue-drenched shots of her shoveling mud until her dress almost irrevocably stains illustrate the depth of this attachment: if she doesn’t pull herself out, she’ll sink completely. Her bucket is no match for the scale of the mud-filled coast, the blistering mountains covered in fog, or the snapped trees and marsh foliage that lie at her feet. Working against the expanse means it swallows you. But shirking blue leaves her open to fuller spectrums when she deeply know that one hue, one feeling. Shirking blue is the hope to fall in, only to float: the aerodynamic shots of her levitating among the trees underscore this vision.

Lu’s architectural flair for fashion makes many shots of this short film straight up eye-candy. Layered tulle spins around her body at sunset; in another her hair stacks horn-like. Most of her face becomes shadowed and eclipsed by a white beaded headdress and cloth, an almost mirror to the crisp, grey face-netting; the plush bodysuit that spins from this point mimics nudity, but doesn’t offer her real skin to our eyes until she reaches the river, swathed only in a blue scarf. The overwhelming puffer jacket that swallows her frame and sports ruffles just peeking from the hood feels kin to the bodysuit calmly unspooling as she undulates. Yet this impulse towards the dramatic makes the moments where fabric or water barely shifts from her skin all the more intimate: she gets to fully exist in them. They look fully lived-in, instead of simply draped or pushing outward. We move between adornment composed to draw the eye and that which is personal comfort & fortification against the world. As she sings of desiring self-sustainment, how fitting it is that the inner and external meld to give us a vision of Lu not destroying, but instead reclaiming ownership of these spaces by exploring their/her depths.