The Artist Explains: Nicole Kiki Jaffe - 'Stay'

LA singer-songwriter Nicole Kiki Jaffe talks us through her conceptual and artistic interpretative dance visuals for her achingly honest debut single, ‘Stay’.

Where was the video for ‘Stay’ filmed?
’Stay’ was filmed in Los Angeles at the Escarpment studio.

How does the video connect with the song?

The song lyrics explore the idea of place. Every line in the verses starts with “where,” describing both the small and more significant parts of a relationship. In a similar way, the video takes place in 6 different rooms with three sequences of movement and three surreal vignettes choreographed by Genna Moroni. Genna had created the movement sequence for the mattress scene before we started working on the video. While we were learning the choreography, it was amazing how all the gestures lined up perfectly with the lyrics.

Do you have any behind the scenes stories you can share with us?
I really love snakes, so when Sarah Prinz, the director, said there would be a snake scene I was super excited. The snake in the video is named Gorgeous, and she was so sweet. During that scene, Taylor Almodovar, the art director, had rigged up a giant tube to pour sand on top of us. I was balancing upside down in a modified candlestick pose with a shirt over my face to prevent all the sand from going into my eyes and ears. Eric Schlo, the dancer, had to embrace the sand all while looking super chic and having a snake wrapped around his neck. We all agreed that he reached a new level of fierceness. We were a little nervous about how Gorgeous would react to the falling sand, but she was a great team player and such a calming presence on set.

Could you tell us about the ideas/ themes/ imagery used?

Since I was young, I’ve had an appreciation for abstract art and dance. When the opportunity to do both came up, I was really excited. I was very open to the ideas of the director, choreographer, and art director, so we could create something highly conceptual and artistic. The video centres around three movement sequences. There is the dance on the mattress, the living room, and the room with the columns. The first dance on the mattress is the most intimate and exploratory, representing the start of a relationship. In the living room dance, we start out dancing together and eventually break apart, only to reach back but never touch. In the final sequence, we no longer touch and only share some movement together, representing the eventual separation and end of the relationship.

Is there a message the video is trying to convey?

The music video for ‘Stay’ examines how two people can be together in the same place, at the same time, yet never see eye to eye. They can go through the same motions, dancing the same dance, but still have vastly different expectations. Throughout the video, the dancers share intimate touch but never make eye contact. So much of life can be viewed through the metaphor of dance, as people come together, interact, grow closer, then, if there isn’t more, drift apart.

Interview by Karla Harris