“Barfoot’s quietly powerful vocals soar amidst the passing images with grace and poise.”
“She is best known for the ethereal poise of her crystal singing voice. Wise Owl is an evocative song, well arranged and placed within a delicate but solidly crafted recording.The clarinet, cello and vocal soar around each other throughout the track, passing through various tempos, weaving an exquisite texture over the guitar, all helped by very subtle atmospheric electronic elements from the producer.”
A woman goes into the mirror, into the depths of grief, everything fragments, she meets the owl who guides her on the journey of desperate grief and disintegration until she becomes the owl, accepts the journey of grief, garners the wisdom of the owl, walks hand in hand with grief and then comes back out of the mirror with that knowledge…
Background to Song
Following the death of her Mum, Lewis’s world fell apart, and her music was the only thing that kept her together. WISE OWL speaks of that journey through the darkest terrain of her grief, at first tormented by the terrors, the deep-searching, gut-wrenching disbelief and then the utter confusion as her world fell apart into a fragmentation of its former self. The wise owl was her journeying companion, at first attacking, tormenting and haunting her until she accepted the owl, learnt from the owl, and allowed the owl’s medicine to permeate her skin. She developed its vision and wisdom and with that the fragmented pieces began to fall back into place and see could see the truth of her reality without the delusion and confusion of her grief. In Celtic tradition The owl was viewed as the spirit animal that would carry the souls of the departed to the underworld. Similarly in Roman tradition the Owl could represent the spirit of a deceased family of close friend.
The companion piece to WISE OWL is a gentle lullaby LITTLE BIRD. Lewis was initially commissioned to write LITTLE BIRD for a Double award winning theatre show Hidden Birds directed by Abigail Anderson which she went on to perform in at The International Theatre Festival, Les Eurotopiques in Lille, France in 2010. The show explored the theme of torture and the song was written from the perspective of a woman imprisoned in a cell who had been tortured and was in her last search for hope. Hope appeared for her in the form of a little bird who appeared at the cell window and spoke of the unifying beauty and freedom of unconditional love. Having never actually experienced torture Lewis initially struggled to write the piece. Then one day half way through rehearsals, she was cycling past Brockley cemetery when a delicate grey and blue bird hopped onto the wall. She stopped her bike, grabbed her phone and sang Little Bird into her voice memos. And the song was born.
The death of her Mum was the greatest trauma Lewis had experienced and so LITTLE BIRD became the perfect companion piece to WISE OWL.
Background to Video
Narae Kim is a visual artist who creates images and experiences with multimedia and physical/virtual spaces. She has directed, designed, and produced prize winning short films in VR, Animation, and Film, including ‘Pippa’s Pan’ (Art Director), work-in-progress showcased at Cannes Film Festival 2017. Narae holds MFA from CalArts where she studied Scenic Design and Animation. She is from Seoul, Korea and currently working and living in Los Angeles.
Narae and Lewis explored the idea of fragmentation, how to capture the sense of your world falling apart after loss of a loved one. They struggled to find a solid storyboard for the piece and really took their time in process to work out what the video was going to be. At one point it was all animation, then all film but with the themes of disintegration and fragmentation emerging as a solid theme the video kept on shifting. As if there was never sold ground.
The idea of fragmentation in and out of images became part of a surreal storytelling. They initially worked remotely with Narae in LA, and Lewis in London meeting regularly on Skype to share ideas, films, footage. Lewis recorded a series of movement/dance improvisations, and took a series of self portraits in the woods exploring the idea of fragmentation and also capturing footage of leaves falling, water flowing. Working with the inevitability of natures and natural cycles. Narae captured film footage of trees, plants, water, smoke rising, and body parts, the pair going back and forth for months, honing in on what felt right. Lewis describes it as all very organic, collaborative and exploratory. They decided to capture footage of Lewis in the woods for Narae to animate, and explored the idea of a mirror being a portal into the realm of grief with the owl being the journeying companion. In the end Narae flew over to London and they shot footage in One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park, captured pinpoint animation in Lewis’ house. and worked frame by frame to tell the story.
Lewis wrote for us about the death of her mother and the experience of creating music in the wake of grief, you can read the full post here.
Friday 15th September 2017
Across all media and LIVE at Nest Collective’s Campfire Club
Voyaging on the tender terrain of vocal purity: her music haunts and heals. Described by
Irish Radio International as a maker of “Delicious music: A massage of the heart, a whisper to the soul”, Lewis works with an uncomplicated loveliness of sound. Her first recording, the independently released EP “Catch Me” contains 5 songs from her Vocal Voyages collection inspired by a year of world travel. Invisible Filter described it as “Utterly brilliant”. The new single WISE OWL is the first single from her debut album Folkalism.
Purchase the song here.