Though she is best known as the lead singer of acclaimed indie rock outfit San Fermin, KAYE (Charlene Kaye) has taken another exciting step in her evolution as a solo artist with the release of the music video for her new single, “Cheshire Kitten.” The video premiered on Hollywood Life, who called it “exactly what we need right now” and a “future-funk track that challenges gender binaries and other cultural expectations.”
Originally turning heads for her soaring vocals and fearsome shredding, this is KAYE’s first focused foray into dance, showing yet another side to her versatility and curiosity as an artist. With the assistance of choreographer Jadeé Nikita (Beyoncé, the Get Down), KAYE spent two months training for the music video-a solitary dance choreographed from the song’s start to finish and performed in a single shot. Dressed in a dazzling getup of silver and iridescent cellophane, she pops, vogues and rolls as bursts of colorful lights flutter in controlled chaos around her.
Inspired by the vogue classes taught by the legendary transgender vogue icon Leiomy Maldonado, the music video explores the concept that there are masculine and feminine sides within all of us, and how those contradictions are the essence of what make us human. As vogue was born out of the Harlem underground drag scene in the 1960s and created as an outlet for marginalized queer people and outcasts, the attitude and inclusivity of the dance resonated strongly within KAYE.
“It was nice to think of gender as more of a spectrum of characteristics as opposed to these two binary systems that inhabit opposing ideals,” she told Hollywood Life. “[The song is feminist, but] that doesn’t just apply to women. Men should feel comfortable embracing their sensitivity and femininity, and it doesn’t mean they’re any less strong or powerful.”
A recent article on Flood Magazine features a writer taking one of Maldonado’s vogue classes with KAYE in New York City, praising the song as “a psychedelic funk groove highlighted by theatrical group harmonies that make a prime declaration for individuality.”
“It took me a long time to realize that it was okay to embrace my sexuality and not want to hide that,” KAYE told Flood. “[In rock music], a very masculine genre, you don’t find very many women that are celebrating their sexuality aesthetically. And if they are, they usually aren’t taken seriously as technical musicians.”
“Cheshire Kitten” signals KAYE’s first single since the 2016 release of her critically lauded EP Honey, which gathered praise from NPR, Billboard, AV Club, Consequence of Sound, Stereogum and Nylon and the release of the new full-length, Belong, from Chamber Pop band San Fermin, of which Kaye has been a member since 2014.
Purchase “Cheshire Kitten” Here: