Through the world of interpretive dance beautiful stories can be told and Nicole Kiki Jaffe illustrates her narrative with every mesmerizing movement. Two beings in the same place never seeing eye to eye, this concept is seamlessly displayed in her simplistic yet stunning video. Entitled ‘Stay’, she proposes a profound question, “Can love coexist with trauma and eventually overcome it?” The track is her poignant attempt to uncover the answer.
Performing for as long as she can remember, it was through musical theater and choir that her love for telling stories through songs really grew. Jaffe examines her untapped raw emotions and unrelenting sorrow through her deeply emotive music. She connects listeners at the core grabbing at their hearts.
Jaffe’s recent release, ‘Holdout‘, examines the desire and yearning to latch onto another in the hopes that love can be repaired. I had the chance to interview Jaffe discussing everything from her captivating concept, her writing process and more.
The visuals for your single “Stay” examine through the metaphor of dance, how two people so close, going through the same motions, can have such different views and expectations. Can you elaborate on that concept?
It has to do with the way perception is always an individual experience. The way we perceive the world is colored by our individual experiences, thoughts, and point of view. The same thing happens in a relationship where you can be so close to someone even to the point of doing absolutely everything together, but you can have completely different experiences. I think Genna Moroni’s choreography provides a great metaphor for this since the two dancers move in a synchronized way, sharing space and touch, but never see eye to eye, neither physically nor metaphorically.
What is the significance of guy in the video appearing as a tree with a butterfly covering his mouth?
For me, this image conjures up some kind of otherworldly deity and represents the way being in love can make you worship another human almost like an idol. The image is just so strange and beautiful, which is kind of what love can feel like. I reached out to Sarah Prinz, the director, who had this to say: “For me, it’s a symbol of hope and grace. Two of the most important qualities to carry when you are in a trying moment with someone. There are a lot of visual nuances that support the symbolism for me in the image.”
Stay is focused on this concept: can love coexist with trauma and the song is your attempt to figure it out. Do you believe the two can coincide?
I think I’m still figuring that out. I believe that the healthiest way to love someone is by loving and accepting yourself first. That’s not to say that you can’t love another person without self love. I just think it’s a lot more difficult. If you can find peace within yourself and truly forgive the other person for the traumatic experience, then perhaps it is possible to love them fully again…
Through songwriting, you’ve learned to transform the terrible into something beautiful. What does your songwriting process look like and what advice would you give other songwriters?
My songwriting process is usually motivated by some kind of extreme emotion, often sadness. I have a lot of singing/crying voice memos on my phone. I used to write a lot in the shower but lately I’ve been writing while driving around town. I start by humming a melody, singing it over and over until words form. Oftentimes, this turns into the chorus, the main message of the song. From there, I figure out what I want to say in the verses and see if I want to take the song to a different place or clarify something in the bridge. After that’s done, I’ll usually pick up my guitar and figure out some chords. I’d like to find a process that’s a bit less emotionally draining, but that’s how it works for now.
My advice for other songwriters is to write what feels true to you because the chances are that it with resonate with other people too.
Lastly, what direction do you envision yourself going next?
Onwards and upwards!
CONNECT WITH NICOLE KIKI JAFFE
photos / Tammie Valer
story / Chloe Robinson