The Artist Explains: Ellisa Sun - 'K.O'

We chat to Ellisa Sun about the visuals for her playful soul-infused single, ‘K.O’, which collectively takes a tongue-in-cheek look at celebrity culture, validation culture, and the ups and downs of the music industry.

Where was the video for 'K.O' filmed?
'K.O' was filmed in Oakland and San Francisco. We shot in 2 different apartments over the course of 2 days.

How does the video connect with the song?
The song is called 'K.O', and the chorus lyrics are "Ain't it easy to kick me when I'm down?" The video connects to the song because it showcases the anger I feel towards the entertainment industry kicking artists down and criticising celebrities when they're simply trying to live their lives and be normal human beings. I am by NO means a celebrity, and the video is a satirical jab. The video has a lot of shots of me figuring out what confidence really means, because I don't have it figured out yet.

Do you have any behind the scenes stories you can share with us?
We had a really low budget for this music video but luckily I got to work with amazing women, Kelly Mason and Rachel Schmitz, who were so great at working with light and details. We filmed the video in 2 different apartment buildings. For the scene where I'm wearing a yellow dress, Kelly used a skateboard to get the smooth shots zooming in and out. She had to have her partner, Kirby, hold the skateboard from behind and slowly push her forward, using a stack of books on the skateboard to keep the camera steady. They were sweating their asses off!

Could you tell us about the ideas/ themes/ imagery used?
I grew up in L.A. and US Weekly magazines were always around. Sitting on the kitchen table, screaming at me in line at the store, etc. Tabloids are everywhere—not just in LA—and we are obsessed with celebrity. I'm guilty of it. There is something so intoxicating about getting that "big break", especially if you're an independent musician, and it's hard to separate yourself from it. The imagery in this video includes shots of a fake tabloid magazine with headlines because I thought it was important to point out how incredibly ridiculous and harmful these magazines are. They're everywhere! A lot of us ignore them, but every single time we go to the store we see them. Our kids see them. It's inevitable that they become part of our psyche and it can really mess you up, especially when you're a kid. So I'm hoping to remind people (including myself!) that all of it is garbage, and to try not to let the haters get you down.

Is there a message the video is trying to convey?
The video is very much about celebrity culture, validation culture, and the ups and downs of being an artist. I've auditioned for reality T.V. shows (i.e. "The Voice") several times, and every time I'm so shocked by the dead eyes of the judges. Everyone knows show business is cutthroat, but it still hurts to bare your soul to strangers and be treated like an animal, rejected over and over again. This music video conveys that feeling of wanting approval from others so desperately, then realising that it doesn't matter in the end as long as you're doing something you love.

Interview by Karla Harris