With her latest video, Emily Jane Powers proves there’s more than one shade of blue when it comes to feeling sad. The Chicago-based art rocker’s clip for “Sullen Days” is an atmospheric meditation on the spectrum of emotions contained within a sullen or sad mood. The entire video was shot on an iPhone by Powers’ husband, bass player, and creative collaborator Alec Jensen (Dream Version). The couple’s DIY approach and clear creative intimacy yielded a raw visual that coincides with Powers’ honest songwriting.
To capture the phases of sadness, the pair wanted to portray Powers as a passive vessel, experiencing, but not engaging, in the moving world around her. “I think that one of the biggest themes of the video was that things were happening around me, but I was passive and still,” says Powers. “We’re trying to evoke an idea that there’s a loss of control as well, which I think goes along with the mood I’m describing.”
However, it’s not always easy to remain still while hanging out of a moving car, which is how the bulk of the video was filmed. “There were a few times when Alec was driving in circles and I was physically unable to hold on to the car,” says Powers. This explains some of her agitated facial expressions throughout the film, but Powers also describes how the “sullenness” she’s capturing doesn’t hold one distinct characteristic. “To be sullen or sad isn’t just one mood, it’s a range of moods that can change pretty rapidly, and the changes of the moods in the video illustrate that,” says Powers.
Powers’ voice swells and evolves, too. Starting in a calm, hypnotic tone and spiraling into a swirl of inundated emotion, she rattles off stream-of-consciousness lyrics that hint to the depths of her psyche. She even identifies the effect her peers can unwittingly have on her feeling when she sings of “transferred desire.”
“I am pretty hyper-aware of the transference of emotions when I’m with people,” says Powers. “If someone’s sad or I’m with someone that’s happy, I sometimes absorb that too easily. Desire could be a bunch of different things – desire to feel better, desire to belong.”
It’s easy to empathize with Powers’ weighted conscious in “Sullen Days,” a cathartic burst of artistic expression. Watch the video below, premiering exclusively on Audiofemme.