Sye Elaine Spence, 'Repeat' In a soulful singer-songwriter's new video, an idyllic outdoor reverie is not as peaceful as it seems.

First Watch: The Deceptive Calm of Sye Elaine Spence's 'Repeat'


Quiet moments can hold all kinds of explosions. Eerie meteors streak around the protagonist of singer-songwriter Sye Elaine Spence's new video, "Repeat." They build on a growing sense of tension as Spence's heroine, played by Chayna Douglas, collapses in an idyllic pasture. By the time the camera pans around and Douglas' face is shown to be tear-streaked and desperate, it's clear these bursts aren't decorative — and they're landing ever closer.

And then there's a smaller explosion apparent in "Repeat," blooming between breaths of Spence's honeyed, passionate voice. It's the kind that obliterates a person from the inside out — the kind that compelled Spence to write this song after her stepfather died, drawing her high, folk-tinged voice into something much closer to soul.

They're not entirely different, the internal and external explosions on haunting and beautiful display in "Repeat," and they're linked by a third, which happened when Spence met director Evan Brown for the first time. As she was reeling from her own loss, he told her his sister had just died, and "Repeat" was the song helping him cope.

Such a quiet and catastrophic video could only have been made by two people whose memories are full of the same kinds of explosions — who have each sat very still while something loud, bright and more than a little scary came their way.