Lenni Revel’s story begins the way most fairytales end: Big A&R professionals vying for her music, Grammy nominations, and billboards in Times Square promoting her music. But her pop dream ended when she was kicking Adderall cold turkey in a shed outside of her parent’s house and plunged into such darkness that she was eventually admitted to a psych ward and put on suicide watch. Her upcoming album, Unbroken, is about her rebirth and reclamation from the clutches of mental health struggles, drugs, and the music business machine. Unbroken also embodies a profound love story between Lenni and her husband, Robert Revel, a family lawyer and critically-acclaimed author who wrote and co-wrote much of the album.
Her video for her latest outlaw country-esque and pop-rock infused single “Where There Ain’t No Sun” conceptualizes pain and loss. While Lenni’s voice is powerful on it’s own, the imagery of a cemetery really drives home the emotional aspect of the song. What really drives the video home is when Lenni releases ashes at the top of a hill at the climax of the song. It’s chilling, haunting, and mesmerizing. She’s symbolically letting go, releasing herself from the pain.
We spoke with Lenni about the music video:
Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically in this way?
The cemetery in the video is a beautiful old site where the founders of the city are buried. It is a favorite walking path of many locals, including Robert and I. The Mausoleum is also on the cemetery site, and we were granted access by a kindly groundskeeper to shoot the interior scenes depicted in the video. The hilltop scene, where the urn ceremony occurs, is another hiking favorite locale of ours. We imagined that one day we would shoot some kind of music video on the spot because of its beauty.
What was the inspiration behind this video?
The song, “Where There Ain’t No Sun” was originally written about unrequited love. I evolved the song’s vocal melodies and facilitated structural and lyrical changes to accommodate my interpretation of the song as being fundamentally about deep loss and grief. My version brought the visual application of the music to images of death, but painted delicately and beautifully with a performance with heart and soul right at the center of it.
What was the process of making this video?
Once the cemetery location was chosen, the time of year to shoot there became an important element; we wanted to capture the beautiful lush green grasses and mosses that grow there in the spring—new life emerging from death. We shot the graveyard scenes in March and soon after we shot the mausoleum scene at the same location. Our dog “Kota” (she is a pure-bred Thai Ridgeback) was utilized in the gravestone shots as an element representing the haunting aspects of grief and the unseen but ever-watching spirit world. Kota, as a recurring element has subsequently made appearances in every music video I’ve performed in. The ceramic urn used for the ashes has special value to Robert, as it is the gift of his best friend who passed away in his fifties. The drone shots on top of the mountain were shot by a local drone pilot who typically shoots for real estate clientele. We had to shoot the ash ceremony quickly as the sun was setting and we had only a few-minute window to gather all the footage.