Psych-folk singer-songwriter Mariee Siou shares the layered, sweeping title track, out everywhere now, with its accompanying video, from her forthcoming self-produced, hypnotic EP Circle of Signs due out April 28 and available for pre-order now. The title track is a love letter to California as it explores the catastrophic effects of climate change and acts as a prayer that reflects on indigenous prophecies. Brooklyn Vegan, who debuted the single, calls it “delicate, atmospheric folk song with layers of saxophone.” Plus, the prolific singer-songwriter will hit the road this May across the West Coast with support from Kacey Johansing on several dates. See a full list of dates below and get tickets here.
Written over the course of a few years, and half in the wake of the historic Sonoma fire in 2017, the title track out today reflects on the ongoing climate disaster–from floods to droughts to fires–that continuously plague many parts of the world including Siou’s home state of California. In an interview with Brooklyn Vegan, Siou says, “This song is a prayer that begs us to heed these warnings from the earth body and reflect on indigenous prophecies from different nations around the world, which speak of the time of The Great Shift.” Siou ponders humanity’s fast-paced current path, filled with consumption, capitalism and technology, that only further ravages the planet. She continues,”A time when we will be given two paths to walk as human beings, where we must choose whether we continue on the path of acceleration, disconnection and technology, or take the other path back into the right relationship with the earth once again.” Delving into the rich lyrical content, Siou says, “The lyrics ask if we will ever humble ourselves and learn from our mistakes as a species, whose human superiority complex is causing change and destruction to our planetary home at a pace that is beyond comprehension.”
“I had just left Sonoma hours before the fires broke out.” Siou recalls of the 2017 wildfires that she had narrowly escaped and became inspiration for the track. “I had been playing a concert there and spooky 70 mph wind gusts were causing the power to go on and off at the outdoor venue. Seeing footage the next day of where we had been the night before was truly haunting, and was when I began parts of the lyrics.” Siou describes the feeling the track elicits as, “sparse yet urgent and mournful, like someone singing out for the rain in a dire time amongst flames.” She continues, “There are layers of soprano saxophone behind most of the track played by virtuoso Patrick McGee, which carries the song with sweeping harmonies and padded atmosphere as if winds were clearing smoky air.”
The creation of the track progressed when more deadly fires claimed lives and homes in California. Siou says, “More of the words came together the next year when, just an hour from where I was living, the nightmarish fire of Paradise broke out and burned, killing 85 people and destroying over 13k homes. The disaster filled the air with a smoke so thick it was almost purple, and no one could go outside for days.” It was this horrifying time that encouraged Siou to funnel her profound grief into song.
The track’s accompanying video, directed by Samantha Shay, captures the climate grief and hopelessness evoked in the song. Shay says, “Circle of Signs is a piece about the wildfires rampaging through California, but so much more. It is about climate grief, the hopeless situation capitalism and colonialism has left the planet and youth to take on.” Further emphasizing the urgency of the issue, Shay casted a teenager to star in the video, both to underscore the suppression of youth voices and as a stark reminder that this is the Earth they are inheriting. Shay adds, “I decided to collaborate with a teenager on the entire creative trajectory. It was a tremendous learning experience. Seraphia Behr is 15 and stars in the film, is a first time actor, and we created the ideas and images together. In this piece, I somehow felt how the suppression of natural burning forests equated to the suppression of the voices of the youth.
The video highlights the teen experience, the deep uncertainty of the future, and also highlights the work of many female artists. Shay continues, “Somehow, Seraphia is California embodied, struggling with and ultimately reclaiming her wildness, her beauty, her insecurities, her vision for her future, and the lineage of women she comes from. I learned a lot. It was an honor to make this piece for Mariee, and I also got to bring together many amazing female artists whose work is featured in this piece.”
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