Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Kalie Shorr is leading the women of Nashville in the fight against their second-class status at country radio. She's the founder of the Song Suffragettes, a weekly roundtable of performances and songwriting by some of the best women writers in the city. She's an old hand at the Grand Ole Opry, having performed there 14 times. And she's on the road this summer and fall opening for LeAnn Rimes. She's a leader among the voices speaking out for women's issues in the world of country, but on her new song, "Lullaby," she tapped into her own issues — including a raw breakup she had to write through to process.
Shorr spoke to Refinery29 in a phone interview about filming the music video for "Lullaby," finding visual inspiration in a '90s photo shoot for Hole, and skateboarding with her girlfriends.
Refinery29: Tell us about this video, who directed it and what inspired the treatment?
Kalie Shorr: "My really good friend Quinton Cook directed it. He started off as an intern for Song Suffragettes, which is an all-women writers' night that I started in Nashville. Mine was one of the music videos he has directed, but he's been on the road with me doing tour videography and photo. Now he's become this incredible director with cool ideas, and he's only 22 or 23. It's always cool to get to work with your friends on this stuff, and that was one of my favorite things about the video. It's actually my friends who I go skateboarding with. That's my actual band who played on the track."
You guys got pretty literal shooting a song with the lyric "put it to bed" in an actual mattress store.
"The song is pretty serious, so it's nice to have fun shooting the video for it because it was emotional. I was with friends who knew the story of the breakup that inspired the song — I didn't actually burn a picture of my ex-boyfriend, that was my high school best friend who looks like him. I was going through old boxes to find things for the video. I think the metaphor of putting it to bed translated into the song and is representative of that. But the mattress store was a fun way to be literal and not act out the actual song, like seeing me kissing a boy and then oh no, I'm sad now." [laughs]
Was there something aesthetically going on paying homage to the '90s? It reminded me of the movie Kids.
"Absolutely, that was intentional. The '90s have been a huge inspiration for me musically and visually. The Kids reference is super on point and the outfit I was wearing in the band scene, I thought I'd go a little bit Angela from My So-Called Life. I've got the haircut. Shooting the album artwork for [my forthcoming LP] Open Book, we dove into some cool Courtney Love and Hole photoshoots they'd done throughout the years. There was this promo shoot for Hole during the Live Through This era in front of this cool pink backdrop that's pretty but with this plastic over it that makes it a little unsettling. Like, campy, maybe, but on the eerie side?
In my video, all the mattresses were wrapped in plastic, which looks like the album cover I did. It gave that same vibe, where something is off about it. [What I do in this video] is something I would have loved to do in high school. I was never badass enough to break a chain, but I did everything else we were doing. [laughs]
The song is about an ex and a relationship coming apart. Was it a Song Suffragette project as well?
"It was not. This is one of the first singles I've released without a Song Suffragette writing on it, but there are plenty of them writing on the project. Writing this looked a lot different than most of my writing sessions go. I had just gone through the end of a six-year relationship last summer and it was super difficult. I was stuck in it — bitter and jaded. He was dating someone new and I was miserable. I hated that side of myself that came out when my heart was broken. A lot of stuff happened that wasn't my fault and I didn't ask for, but that doesn't mean I had to just sit in it and feel miserable.
"One night, I went to this bar across the street from my house because I didn't want to be home alone. I got drunk, chain-smoked, and journaled in the corner. I told myself, Oh buddy this is not good. So I come home tipsy, sit at my piano and write the chorus: "I don't want to do this anymore/ I want to put this to bed." Then, ironically, I went to sleep and forgot about it.
In the next few weeks, I ended up having this cool, personal Renaissance. I went to New York and L.A. where I was writing and traveling. I found empowerment in my freedom as opposed to loneliness. When I came back to Nashville, I had a writing session with Will Stone, who had known me and my ex and seen my transformation through the breakup. He'd also just been through a super-similar breakup; we had been couple friends, so that came from such a real place for both of us. We also wrote with Robyn Collins, who is this phenomenal writer who is like my Nashville mom. She sent this prayer and affirmation before we started that was so powerful; no one had done that before. It put me in a place to recognize, wow we are doing something important and I am putting out something that someone needs to hear. The song just fell out. It follows the path of my healing.
"On the production side, I had seen Third Eye Blind in L.A. and thought that I want to make something that makes me feel like that. They're one of my inspirations. It ended up coming together in this crazy way and the music video is the cherry on top for me."