Girl Blue – real name Arielle O’Keefe – has been gaining ground around the Capital Region. Putting on performances that are at once sensitive and dynamic, she is poised to release her debut EP “I Am Not A Star on October 5, 2016. The music video for her first single, Fire Under Water, premieres today, and she was able to answer some questions about the hard work and emotion behind her music.
Who is Girl Blue?
Good question. The answer changes for me all the time. It’s ever evolving. I think it’s like really emotional future rock-pop. I’ll get better at wording that someday. I had wanted to have some kind of separation from my ‘real’ name, which I had previously been putting music out under. Girl Blue was something I had been sitting with for awhile, I had been really influenced by Nina Simone and her record “Little Girl Blue” growing up, and there’s a Stevie Wonder song called “Girl Blue” that when I heard for the first time I went “well yup, yeah that’s me”. It just resonated with me. I had a friend tell me I was blue, my energy or whatever, around the same time. It felt like me, so I went with it.
I Am Not A Star is your first release as Girl Blue. What do you want people to look forward to on this album?
For I Am Not A Star, people can look forward to hearing some raw independent music that has a lot of heart in it. The whole thing was made by three people in a bedroom – no autotune, no budget, just three friends and a lot of maddening time staring at a computer screen. I hope it gives listeners a glimpse of where I’m headed. I’ve already grown and changed so much since we made it, but I’m proud of what it is and so excited for people to hear.
Everything you’re doing currently I would classify as “independent – releasing through Just Pretend Records, enlisting friends to help with music videos. There’s a lot of intimate collaboration going on. Does that show itself in the creative process for you?
Yes, everything is completely independent. Check the dark circles under all our eyes that weren’t there a few years ago. There is a lot of intimate collaboration like you say, and I think that comes from working with your close friends. Recording the EP was a good example of that. Having to be as vulnerable as I was during that process was really important, and wouldn’t have been able to happen if I hadn’t made it with two of my best friends (Jimi Woodul and Dan DeKalb). Recording can be rough, it’ll shove reality in your face pretty quickly, and there was a period of time tracking vocals that I was regularly reduced to tears trying to get a take a liked. I grew a lot from those sessions, and I don’t think I could say that had I been in a studio with hired gun engineers and producers.
The music video for Fire Under Water is finally out there in the world, so what is this song about for you? How did that translate into the video?
Fire Under Waterâ€¦ for me the song’s about not being able to let go of something, no matter how much you know you need to. It’s got that ‘unrequited’ thing. For the video, we took it a step further to watch our character (me) go on a journey to leave behind the past. We wanted to use a really simple, Halloween costume style sheet ghost, something childish and almost crude, to represent whatever it is in the past that the character’s holding onto – keep it simple, cinematic and emotionally resonant.
When you play live there’s definitely a very unique intensity to your performance – and now you have a set backing band you’re playing with. To celebrate the release “I Am Not A Star, you’re playing a show at the Hollow in Albany – what kind of experience do you want people who come to the show to have?
For years I had played live as a solo act. Adding a band behind me has been scary and exciting and a bigger adjustment than I thought it would be. I still want to retain some of the intimacy, but now I can really showcase full arrangements and choreograph a complete show. I would love for people to come out to a show and feel that they can escape for a little bit into the music. Again, I’ll bring back the emotional resonance – I want people to feel something. I think if we’re doing it right my goal is to bring people into the same moment together, even if it’s just for a song.
This was a guest post from Shannon Straney.