Caroline Sallee, of Caroline Says, premieres her music video for “I Think I’m Alone Now”, combining candid video of the Pacific Northwest with home-tailored visual arts. Taken from Caroline’s lauded album, 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong, released as a joint cassette between Happenin Records and Noumenal Loom, Sallee couples the warmth of VHS tape as her canvas with digitally added enhancements for effect to illustrate the inner emotions of epistolaries written and scrawled in spirit—but never sent.
The Texas-by-Birmingham, Alabama artist takes her sound of the indie South on a trip to the Northwest coast locales of Portland, Vancouver, BC, and Seattle. Caroline wraps her carefully strummed chords around visuals of Pacific ocean habitations, street dancers, waves of rolling picture static, dramatic sky fades, and home kitchen made self-screen tests. The picture frame is painted in everything from privy vacation captures of movements, natural grandeur, plane shots, Mount Shasta, to waterfall splashes of green, orange, yellow, blue, orange, red, and green, that Caroline also paints on herself. “I Think I’m Alone Now” already elicits a multitude of emotional and personal responses from each individual listener, and the added visual elements of caught images provides colorful, and vibrant elaborations of Sallee’s music that illustrates more than words alone can afford. Caroline talked with us further to provide a special look behind the song’s inspirations, geography, and the endearing new video.
“I Think I’m Alone Now” is one of the many really powerful songs off your stunning album 50,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong. I had always wondered how you combine these kinds of candid and personal displays of feelings and instances in your songwriting and sound that paints solitude with indie space-jangle brush stroke sensibilities and style.
Well, thanks! I came up with the guitar parts in the summer of 2012 while I was staying at my parents’ friends’ cabin in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Then I recorded them when I was house sitting my friend Brenda’s parents’ house in August. I didn’t have any idea what the singing melody would be or what the song was even about when I recorded the guitar parts.
Then I left to work at Yellowstone National Park for three months. In between hikes, working at the Old Faithful Inn, and staring at buffalo and mountains, I listened to the song a lot in Yellowstone trying to figure out a good melody for it. But I was pretty frustrated the whole time because nothing really fit. When I came back home from Yellowstone, I still didn’t know what to do with the song and kind of forgot about it for a while.
One night, I watched the documentary I Think We’re Alone Now about the stalkers of the 80’s singer Tiffany. Very weird and creepy. Strangely enough, it gave me the idea to write a love song about a stalker who is in love with a celebrity and the celebrity dies and the stalker is heartbroken. I’ve found that one way I can feel good and unembarrassed about lyrics is if they are about something fictional. And that’s when I came back to those guitar parts and I thought of a melody and everything kind of fit together.
I think one defining characteristic of the song that was totally on accident is the drums. I started recording the drums on a drum set when I realized I can’t really play drums very well. So I just recorded a snare and toms and then did the rest of the drums digitally with Reason. And I think that mixture of real and digital drums gave the song a certain sound that I wasn’t necessarily going for but ended up being kind of cool.
So that’s the story of the song, what it is about and how it was recorded.
The video is almost how I would imagine “Alone Now” to be maximized on a moving visual arts scale. It has everything: coastal vistas, train rides, traverses the spaces between sky, sea, the places in between, television static, face painted screen tests, cat cameos, dance-offs, suburban camera pans, dandelion groves and more. What was the curation, shooting, and footage gathering/editing process like?
I had some time off of work and chose to take a vacation to the Pacific Northwest because that’s a part of the country I hadn’t seen much of before. I went to Portland, Vancouver, BC, and Seattle. So that’s where most of the footage was taken.
I had just watched the documentary Finding Vivian Maier (I guess I’m just a documentary addict), about a street photographer from decades ago whose photographs were just recently discovered. I was walking around those cities taking photos and videos, feeling kind of inspired by that documentary, trying to take candid street videos.
I thought there was a deadline for the video, so I tried to finish it in a weekend. I filmed all the stuff with me in my kitchen. Like I said before, the song is about someone who is obsessed with a celebrity and that celebrity dies, and that’s what the TV static throughout the video is supposed to represent, although I know those things don’t exactly correlate without that explanation.
It’s also the perfect video in the way that it sends these streams of visuals to run with the lyrical wellspring of thoughts, sentiments, reflecting upon place, placement, west coast leanings, southern travels, and places of solace that mend heartbreak with a meshing of magic. It’s hard to explain.
Well, I appreciate it. I was pretty iffy about it after I finished it so I’m glad y’all like it.
50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong won us over last May, and we’re wondering what else you’ve been working on, and what’s the latest word and works between the respective imprint houses of Noumenal Loom and Happenin Records?
I’ve been working on and recording some new songs and I hope to have another album done by the end of the year. Also trying to get a band together and possibly play some live shows eventually.