The Los Angeles-based singer Simone White has a voice like ether. It's sweetly airy and hypnotic. Hearing it can pull you under to a strangely beautiful, glittering world where nothing seems real.
On "In The Water Where The City Ends," from her latest record, Silver Silver, White's voice is at its most haunting as she recalls, in disjointed poetry, the tsunami that devastated Japan's Tohoku region last year.
"I wrote this song after the tsunami last year," White says. "My friend Hideyuki Katsumata made the animation." For the song's video, the artist and director animated a series of delicately drawn black-and-white prints that are both stark and beautiful.
"I didn't look at many images of the destruction, it was too much, but the scenes I did see imprinted me with their chaos," White says. "In the song, the words are broken and mismatched in places. Parts seem missing, the grammar is not clear. The line, 'Hold me close we slip right through' is about slipping through to death, or sometimes, slipping through to life."
For his part, Katsumata says, "when I first received the song from Simone, I found it very strong in its very minimal form."
"I felt the strength of the the tsunami. When I read the lyrics, I strongly felt Simone's feeling that she wanted me to do something about the song.
"Through the long history of the Earth, there were unknown numbers of repeated natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and severe periods of ice age," she says. "These images stayed in my mind as recollections and reflections. Just like the beats of the melody of the song, I heard and felt when I closed my eyes, I saw the repeated scene of the rise and fall of the histories. And when I opened my eyes, I gained the courage to move forward. The image of the video was already made.
"I perceive my view of life and death as like the wind and mountains. I am powerless and helpless in never-ending time and never-stopping universal cycles. Whatever is caused by nature, it is, after all, natural things to humans. Yes, there is so much sadness and sorrow. But we have to remind ourselves we are nothing but a part of nature. By accepting the facts, little by little, I woke up this morning to start another new day."