I've been going back and forth in my mind about whether or not I want to expose the meaning behind the Temple song and video. Part of me wants to keep the entire thing a secret, but part of me also yearns for people to get to know me better as an artist. This is the main reason for this diary(other than the obvious goal of venting my struggles in a constructive way in hopes to help others get through their own struggles).
The fact of the matter is, Temple, is the first story of many more to come. Each video will continue on from the one preceding it with an ongoing storyline. I'm pulling from a vast array of life experiences and it's really the culmination of so many things.
Years ago I lived in Haiti for a few months. It's a long story but I've always been drawn to culture of all different types. While growing up, I was obsessed with learning about foreign culture and International travel..
My first experience out of the country was visiting Germany at 12 years old, next was when I lived in Jamaica for a summer at 16 years old. I've always been into Caribbean culture and food specifically, because before I fell head first into House music, I was a Reggae girl. I grew up on the beaches of Florida and most of my friends were from the Caribbean, they were the ones I chose to be around.
And, my soccer coach, as well as one of my best friends, were both from Haiti.
Because of this I was exposed to Caribbean culture early on. By the time I was 23, I had already visited Jamaica, Haiti, Antigua, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, not to mention Germany. I love experiencing new cultures!
But to this day, Haiti has had the most profound effect on me. There were things that happened to me there that only my closest friends know about, things you don't really discuss with people regularly. If I ever end up writing a book, that is when I will get into details about my experiences there. For now, let's just say it changed my life, mostly for the better..
I had some spiritual experiences there that left profound marks on my soul. I was also imparted with knowledge I couldn't have received in any other way, had I not lived there.
What was I doing there, you ask? Well, it's a secret..
Temple is the culmination of the convictions that arose from these experiences, mixed with deeply personal visions and beliefs regarding reincarnation, all intertwined with the mental anguish I endured over the past 4 years(more on this in future posts).
In addition to what I just mentioned above, there is also a strong undercurrent of my disgust with the music industry coming out in its own cathartic manner via the Temple video and esthetic.
After all that I had went through, I suddenly began having this overpowering urge to become a ghost. The music industry made me feel like a ghost anyway, and as you can see in the video, my predominant look is one of death; monotone, neutral, almost transparent.
This is where my obsession with veils began. I wanted to disappear.
There's only one thing I like more than wearing a proper hoodie; and that's wearing a shiny veil.
The ghost and the veil - the look of macabre transparency; my answer to a music industry obsessed with image, social media stats, and spiritual vacancy, and also(yet ironically), the corporate exploitation of spirituality as a means to make money(this is one of the hardest ones for me to deal with at the moment, namely in the dance music community).
I didn't want to look like a movie star in Temple. I wanted to look like a dead person, a mirage, a mutable spirit. We have enough pop stars, wannabe super star dj's, and pointless Instagram celebrities.
I'd rather be the ghost singing in the graveyard about all the lives I've lived..
I'd rather wear a veil.
The filming of "Temple," will forever go down in my own personal history book as one of the most challenging experiences of this lifetime.
When the time finally arrived to film the video I questioned whether or not I even had the necessary strength to pull it off. I'd been fighting a horrendous sickness for weeks and my energy level and health were at a record low. "Is it worth it?" I asked myself repeatedly. I can barely function at all, let alone put on the star performance expected of me.
I was in hopelessly bad shape, yet hell bent on expressing a myriad of life-long visions - pleading with me to be brought to life. And amongst these visions - I also called upon the more recent state of my delicate and fragmented psyche.
In addition to my health struggle, my former partner's patience was wearing thinner and thinner by the day. He often held shit together for me as my world frequently fell apart. He stayed by my side and supported me through eviction, near homelessness, and the slew of emotions and drama that come along with being a struggling artist in NYC. The combination of my relationship, career, and health issues were quickly dragging us both into a pit of despair.
And in this struggle, this trip to the edge - existed the foundation of which the music video for Temple was built upon; sickness, exhaustion, and at times excruciating pain.
During the graveyard scenes, my body temperature dropped to a near fatal number. It was around 38 degrees outside, extremely windy, and freezing rain was pelting my aching body like sharpened darts.
I remember taking a moment of silence between scenes to pay respects and bow down to all those who've suffered before me, for once in my life understanding what it must have felt like to die out in the cold, alone and hurting. How completely disturbing it was; me, there in the graveyard.. willingly freezing my veins in the name of art. What kind of ironic nightmare was I living inside exactly? Imagine being locked out of your house in the dead of winter, freezing and soaking wet for 4 hours, that's what it felt like.
I look dead in the graveyard scenes, and truthfully, I believe I may have been close to it.
It would seem that artists tend to push themselves further than most cultural demographics, which is a concept I'll touch on further in coming posts..
I was also wearing grey contacts in the video. They were absolutely horrific for me. It was my first time ever wearing contacts and I had them in for about 16 hours straight. When the first day of shooting was finally complete I ripped them out of my eyes(that's how it felt) then shivered my way to bed, delirious and cold. When I awoke the next day, I looked like I'd been punched in the left eye. It was swollen and bulging out of my head like a baseball and completely glued shut. Clearly I had developed a nasty eye infection over night and it was completely mental. Never in my life had I looked so gruesome and disfigured. it was terrifying.
About a month later I was still trying to recover from the entire experience of filming the video, but still wasn't feeling well at all and knew something was wrong. I had arranged a really in depth photo shoot for promotion and branding of the video. The day of the shoot - around 6 am, I rose out of bed coughing and weak and said to myself, "That's it, enough is enough, I need to go to the doctor today and get a blood test, something is very wrong, and I'm cancelling this photo shoot."
After seeing the doctor it turned out I was struggling with a near case of chronic mono and a definite case of bronchitis, all brought on by over-working myself in the name of this video - further aggravated by the maintenance required to balance a romantic relationship, AND a music career simultaneously.
Unsurprisingly, that relationship ended shortly after..
In addition to all of this, the day I cancelled that photo shoot was the day I also learned what it's like to let people down who're depending on you for income. In one of Gaga's interviews she describes what it feels like to have to say "No" to any number of people for any number of reasons. When others are depending on you for work and income and you let them down, the backlash can be very bitter.
Needless to say, my photographer and makeup artist were bitter as hell. I mean, who cares if I'm on the verge of pneumonia and chronic mono? This is New York City, and the point is.. people want their pay for the work you hire them for, the work which they avidly prepared for, moved their schedule around for, etc... it's a horrible feeling to let people down and experience the repercussions of handling your own shit, but it's something you simply get use to in the biz. It's just part of it; the let downs, the ego bruising, the missed opportunities.. thick skins are the only skins that make it here. You can believe that.
At this point this post becomes extremely ironic, because as I sit here writing this in the present moment,10/9/17, I'm just now recovering from yet another health scare. This time it was tonsillitis which landed me in urgent care just 2 days before the originally planned date of the video premiere party for Temple.
Full circle much? Ironic, indeed.
It's all very strange.. This video is tied to many bizarre and unexplainable occurrences, some I can't even mention right now. But I think we can all agree it's perfect viewing for that stormy Autumn night - hot cider in hand - cozy on the couch whilst questioning all that is, and all that's ever been...
And no one will ever know just who or what I may have invoked on that cold and rainy day in November; the day I almost froze to death amongst the marble tombstones of yesteryear.. right here in Queens, New York.