“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…” These words bring us back to the childhood story we know so well – they conjure an image of Dorothy deciding to leave the magical place she’s just discovered, tapping her ruby red slippers in the hope of returning over the rainbow to rejoin the dull black and white society she came from.
Artist Kat Cunning has found her own version of the colorful and magical Oz in the queer community of New York. Her latest video and single “Wild Poppies” is a tribute to this playful world and what that journey has felt like. Known for her work in the visual arts, Cunning has also been a singer and dancer in shows like Sleep No More and Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour. She is one of those rare talents who has the ability to translate her vision into a variety of mediums, all while staying true to her authentic self. “Wild Poppies” is Cunning’s video debut; the single was initially released late last year. Premiering on January 30th, the visual clip unites her various passions of dance, theater and music, giving her admirers the chance to watch them all come together at once.
In a studio session with Paste Magazine Kat Cunning explained that “music… feels like the place where everything that I do actually can live together. I’m inspired to create the world where the beautiful things I see get to live.” The video brings this sentiment home, given that Cunning wrote the song, choreographed the dance, and helped with costume and makeup design. She truly is creating her own world in which all her friends can play.
Story is the uniting force in the “Wild Poppies” video, which depicts, through graceful movement, a person coming to find themselves and opening up to a new version of who they are. Her lyrics reference cyclones, ruby shoes, and emerald eyes as she dares listeners to chase her “over the ledge,” hinting that this is the only place to truly find yourself and your bliss.
The tonality of her vocals come from a place I can only perceive as the soul, as her deep, almost haunting voice adds weight to the familiar story. Early on, Cunning was inspired by jazz musicians in the scene where she first started dancing after moving to New York. Her music fuses this influence with a love of pop, and a Brooklynite’s healthy taste in indie music. She is both hypnotic and seductive, creating a painting with her vocals that dance across the spectrum of the musical scale.
In an interview with Refinery29, Cunning tied together how The Wizard of Oz impacted the creation of “Wild Poppies.” “[Dorothy] has so many adventures,” says Cunning, “and for me that story is akin to finding your community of people and particularly a colorful queer world full of beautiful freaks.”
Diving head first into the colorful world she is creating, it doesn’t seem Cunning will be clicking her ruby red slippers any time soon.