NPR logo First Watch: Family Band, 'Night Song'

First Watch: Family Band, 'Night Song'

For Family Band's Kim Krans, music and visual imagery are inexorably intertwined as means of expressing a dark, delicate vision. Recording with her guitarist husband Jonny Ollsin as Family Band, she's crafted a beautifully unsettling ballad in "Night Song," but it's almost difficult to imagine hearing it without the visuals she created for its video:

The video's concept, for those who haven't yet clicked the play button, is simple: As its director, Krans had cameraman Joshua Allen shoot footage of her face as she sang "Night Song," then laid a succession of drawings over her own image. Some of the drawings are sparkling or psychedelic; others are portentous, playful and even ridiculous. She's essentially drawing graffiti on herself — in the name of art, sport, even comedy.

The effect is a video that commands rapt attention and slow-motion study. We reached out to Krans to ask her about "Night Song" and the video which helps bring it to life:

Jonny and I wrote "Night Song" on a cassette four-track in our cabin last summer. He came up with a sampled beat and an ornate guitar riff, and I kept the lyrics and melody very stoic and mysterious. The repetitious beat always suggested a slideshow to me; that's where the vision for the projected drawings came from.

I usually make extremely detailed and refined drawings, so making these sort of stupid, crude images was such a release for me. Artists I love the most know when to use dumpiness and simplicity to their advantage — I'm namely thinking of Philip Guston and Louise Bourgeois. The narrative started to take a weird, dark turn toward consumption and feeling generally overwhelmed with all the things we are supposed to be, have, do, look like, feel like... and I just went with it.

Family Band's album, Grace & Lies, is out July 24. For more information, visit their website here.

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