Video Voyager: Kristen Rae Bowden’s Video for “Hard to Love”

Kristen Rae Bowden

Kristen Rae Bowden’s work is a penchant for clever metaphorical turns of phrases, raw emotionality, and imaginative musical arrangements. Her musicality stretches through adventurous journeys with a dramatic flair, melding classic rock and prog-rock melodies to highly personal emotional explorations. She counts as inspiration such diverse artists as Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Primus, Radiohead, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, and legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim.

Her new single “Hard to Love” was actually written with an unanswered question in mind: Can you restart a heart? Kristen didn’t have the answer at the time of writing this which is why the song never answers the question definitively.

The video visually pulses alongside the music. When the chorus arrives, there’s a depiction a woman forming in the lines of the beating heart. She breaks out, shattering the heart and finds freedom. Set in a magenta hue, Kristen is seen singing the verses, almost like she trying to find the answer to her question.

We spoke with Kristen about her video, what it means, and how she came up with the idea of the video:

Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically in this way?

When I wrote “Hard to Love” I was grappling with what you might call “post-broken-heart syndrome”. Just like a physical wound scars over with harder, less flexible skin, I felt my broken heart had healed in many ways, but I felt numb, hardened, and incapable of intimacy. I thought, is this my new normal? Feeling so much less alive than I used to? And I realized I was hiding, dimming my light on purpose, so I couldn’t get hurt again. 

The story of “Hard to Love” is all about that feeling: hardening your heart after a breakup like it’s a fortress, not letting anyone all the way in. And at the same time missing how it felt when your heart was open and you were vulnerable, but free. You can’t have both. You can’t shore up your defenses so you don’t get hurt and live life to it’s fullest simultaneously. 

The song is centered around a metaphorical question: “Can you restart a heart?” Given its inspiration, when I wrote the song I knew I wanted it to be centered sonically around a heartbeat. And then when it came to the video, I was excited to get to see that heart beating. So I knew I wanted animation to be the vehicle. 

I also wanted the world of the video to be different from the real world, to express how alien, fake, and two dimensional the world can feel when you’re anxious and hiding yourself.

What was the inspiration behind this video (visuals, storyline, etc.)?

I wanted to metaphorically express the way “post-broken-heart syndrome” feels, and I knew the heart would be the central image. So I came up with the idea of a girl hiding inside of her heart, which she’s turned into a fortress of protection. No one is allowed in, but no one is allowed out either, so she has essentially imprisoned herself for her own safety. Veins turn to vines and wrap around her wrists and ankles like shackles. 

She grows weary of her self-imposed cage and breaks the heart in order to be free, but even then she finds herself on a cliff, alone. All of this imagery, to me, really works to express the feelings of a fear of intimacy.

I also thought the video should have a human aspect. I’m there singing the song in this pink x-ray landscape where a human is out of place and shouldn’t really exist. That’s how I felt when I wrote the song, lost in uncharted territory.

The storyline shifts in the bridge of the song, and I love that you can see my human frustration in that “I can’t go on this way” moment. 

The lyrics of the song never offer any hope or assurance that yes, you can “restart a heart”, but the musical section after the bridge has the feeling of hope and triumph. I wanted the video imagery to push that feeling into a certainty. So I went with the idea of growth and blooming to represent that hope, and I love watching the glowing heart grow into a garden.

What was the process of making this video?

I had been playing with the FlipaClip app (flip-book style animation) while dreaming up the conceptual images for this video, so I learned a little bit about how time consuming animation can be and what an awesome skill it is. I knew I wanted the finished video to look more artistically advanced than anything I was going to be able to do.

Through a mutual friend I was very lucky to find Pat Bradley, award-winning animator and illustrator at Spring Shoe Animation. I was thrilled when he signed on for the animated portions, and to edit the video into the imaginary pink x-ray world. I sent him the storyboard I’d made with pieces of amateur animation and drawings of the girl in the heart, and we set up the video shoot together through more mutual friends, Sanjay Suchak and Stephen Thomas.

The video shoot itself was a lot of fun. I sang along with the song in front of a green screen, and though it took me a couple hours to loosen up, eventually I was able to let go of my inhibitions and really express some of that frustration and movement you see in the final product.

Pat did an incredible job taking my crudely drawn ideas and putting them into cohesive, flowing lines that tell the story of the song. He also integrated me into the animated world in a way that I hadn’t imagined. 

Connect with Kristen Rae Bowden via:

Website // Instagram // Facebook // Twitter // YouTube // TikTok // Spotity // Soundcloud


Merlot Embargo Shares Their New Indie Pop Single “Not Gonna”

Merlot Embargo is the self-produced and independent indie pop duo recording music out of our home studio in LA, where they’re also raising their daughter Joanna. Their music is diverse but rooted in the classics. While they strive to make each song something unique and fresh, Scarlet’s sultry voice and Geoff’s groovy guitar-ing make it all feel like Merlot Embargo.

Some might even consider Scarlet and Geoff an unlikely duo: a seat-of-the-pants, army brat singer-songwriter, paired with a native Californian music school nerd and engineer by day. But the blending of their different approaches to music (and life) has helped them create music that’s provocative, but also real and approachable. They temper each other’s worst tendencies, and in their good moments, bring out the best qualities in each other.  Throw in their band, and it’s a collab made in heaven.

Merlot Embargo just released their new upbeat and catchy pop rock single, “Not Gonna,” a song that takes down their own inner demons about ageism in the music industry. The music tells a story of fun and excitement while the lyrics tell a story of resistance and obstacles. Together, it reflects the message of being outwardly fine, but battling setbacks in pursuit of a goal on the inside.

Scarlet’s voice is familiar, almost like a Brandi Carlile meets Ingrid Michaelson. The music and beat is instantly recognizable as uniquely Merlot Embargo with it’s clear influence of Coldplay and The Beatles.

“Hopefully, this song inspires people to keep persevering and following their dreams,” share the duo. “They may be closer than they realize.”

Connect with Merlot Embargo

Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / TikTok / YouTube / Spotify / Soundcloud

Gracie Jet Debuts Emotionally Powerful New Single “Sister”

English born, but raised in Ontario, Canada, Gracie Jet has emerged on the alternative pop scene with great gusto. 

Her debut single “Sister” is an emotional and raw ballad that explores the relationship with her sister who has struggled with mental health since she was a child. The song is delicate and also carries strength with the rich vocals from Gracie. It is a song about struggle, perseverance, family and love.

“My sister has struggled with mental health for years. As her sister, I have watched her through it all. I’ve watched as my best friend/sister retreated to her bedroom and became a stranger. I’ve walked with her through it all. I’ve taken  her to the hospital, watched her fall apart. I’ve watched her struggle through all the ups and downs and been so scared that you would lose her in the end.” 

While this song explores a serious and challenging theme, Gracie´s upbeat energy and character shines through. Her voice alone commands all of the attention here, with a rich range similar to that of pop star Adele and Lana Del Ray. 

“I wrote this song for her to remind her she is not alone and that she is loved and she would miss that her life is valuable. This is a love song also for all the  family members watching their loved ones struggle and an anthem for people struggling that you are not alone.”

Listen to “Sister” today to hear what all the fuss is about over this brilliant young Canadian artist. 

Stay current with Gracie Jet on her Website, and social media channels Instagram , Facebook , Twitter and TikTok . Stream music on YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud.

Video Voyager: Josiah Mann’s “Angel”

Ford Photographs – Nashville Architectural Photographer

Josiah Mann is the indie singer/songwriter who’s driven by passion and perfectionism. This is evident right off the bat in his debut single “Angel,” from his forthcoming debut album, Grace. He has an Ed Sheeran and John Mayer quality to his music with that sweet acoustic sound and smooth vocals. The song bursts with new-romance euphoria and the lyrics here poetically hopeful.

The video for “Angel” depicts the message of the song: a love story. He shares the story in the first minute and a half of the video of how he met his first girlfriend. The rest of the video goes on to show a young couple, a younger Josiah and his girlfriend, on a date and falling in love.

We got a chance to speak with Josiah about his video. Let’s dive in:

Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically in this way?

The music video is literally the actual story of the song. I wrote this song 15 years ago for my girlfriend after our first date. A couple weeks later I recorded the song and then gave it to her for Valentine’s day!

What was the inspiration behind this video?

We wanted to match the visuals to the lyrics of the song. It was important to me that we captured some of the lyrics like “then we watched the stars” by showing a couple watching the stars together outside.

What was the process of making this video?

We booked a great location in Nashville to film at this beautiful wedding venue / barn. We were thinking about having me play the younger version of myself, but a few days before the shoot we decided to hire actors instead. We found two great actors and working with them made the process even more fun. It was super cool and trippy to see this recreation of a real thing that happened in my life so long ago!

Connect with Josiah

Website / Instagram / Facebook / YouTube / TikTok / Spotify / Soundcloud

Rising Indie Artist Josiah Mann Shares His First Single “Angel”

Ford Photographs – Nashville Architectural Photographer

Missouri born and raised indie artist Josiah Mann has released his new acoustic indie pop single, “Angel”, released September 1, 2022 from his debut album Grace

“I wrote the song “Angel” 16 years ago after falling in love for the first time. Prior to that relationship, I had never been in a serious relationship as an adult and really struggled with low self worth. To the outside world, I seemed to be accomplishing a lot with my life but I was super lonely. The song recounts our first night together and the feelings of elation and disbelief that someone so amazing and beautiful would actually want to be with me.” 

“Angel” is a love ballad with introspective lyrics and a warm, melodic guitar and piano melody. The song tells a story of love, and the life journey with a vocal strength and vulnerability similar to the likes of John Meyer and Ed Sheeran. 

Listen here:

Mann grew up in a family that was always struggling financially, and Josiah was bankrupt at the age of only 25. He was so determined to turn his life around, that he taught himself how to code and began earning a 6 figure salary. By the age of 35, he sold his software company for 7 figures. 

After having established himself financially, Mann was then able to develop more of his musical talents and sought to release an album. His debut, “Grace” is a 10 song, self produced collection of songs that reflect on his upbringing and life journey so far. 

With an authenticity and fresh talent on the indie pop scene, Joshua Mann is sure to attract a growing fanbase around the world. 

Stay current with Josiah Mann on his Website and social media channels Instagram , Facebook and  TikTok. Stream music on YouTube , Spotify and Soundcloud

Ann Gray Shares Her Acoustic Pop Song “Grace”

Ann Gray is the talented young star who’s growing brighter by the day. She just released her latest acoustic pop single “Grace,” inspired by a previous song “Ophelia,” from her side project with her cousin called Times New Roman. “with her cousin called. “Ophelia” is about two friends leaving each other for college and “Grace” is written in Ophelia’s perspective toward her friend Grace.

“Although I myself have only just started looking at colleges and thinking about that daunting phase in my life, I had also just been directly introduced to that peculiar, bittersweet feeling as I had recently become the only kid in the house after my last sister left for college,” shares Ann Gray. “Ultimately, the line ‘growing up happens when you least expect it to’ sort of began to steer the concept of the piece. I was inspired to write it after my older sister, whom I often fought with and despised for the first couple years of my life, said that she loved me with red, crying eyes as she left. And of course, almost as if I was just realizing the truth of these words at that very moment, I said it back.”

“Grace” embraces new beginnings and reminisces about growing up. It’s sweet, beautiful, and delicate. Her voice is strong and packs a punch, something you would never expect from someone so young. She carries an Olivia Rodrigo meets Ingrid Michaelson in her voice with a Taylor Swift style in her songwriting.

Listen here:

Connect with Ann Gray via:
Website I Instagram I Spotify