In a sea of new artists, NY-based singer Courtnie stands out. Her dreamy, soulful vocals tap into every emotion and her songs are reflections of moments we’ve all experienced, her 2017 EP I Feel Like Color is the perfect example.
Now, the singer is exploring the anxieties of life in a new video for “Never Be.” The hazy video sees Courtnie dancing through halls and battling her own demons. In an interview with ESSENCE the singer touched on the inspiration behind the video, the importance of collaborating with Black women, and the role visual art plays in her music.
What inspired “Never Be” and how did the video for the song come together?
I wrote “Never Be” about life’s pressures and how they can drive you to insanity if you let them. In this visual, I’m my lowest point personified, and it’s super vulnerable in that we break the fourth wall several times throughout. I know anxiety is something almost everyone can relate to and writing a song that conveyed that was incredibly therapeutic for me.
This video was directed by a close friend of mine, Jordan Caldwell. All of the visuals I’m releasing this summer were directed and produced by black women, which I did on purpose because in addition to my strong urge to network laterally (shout out Issa), I think it’s important to actively target, uplift, and provide platforms for one another as black women across the diaspora. I’m all for changing the connotation and conversation around nepotism, and recognizing that we have to be the first responders in supporting one another. We possess extraordinary levels of empathy and compassion that often lead us to fight and vouch for countless causes, and I love that about us. But the way I set up my teams for these visuals was a gentle reminder to myself to prioritize my sisters as well. Taking that initiative is key.
How did growing up in Chicago and St. Louis influence your sound and aesthetic? Has living in NY changed that?
I fell in love with music during car rides growing up, and my parents were almost always listening to Ramonski Luv on V103 in Chicago or 95.5 in St. Louis, so my appreciation for the older genres and my more classic sound stem from that for sure. I actually didn’t get into music until I left for school in LA though. And then I moved to New York after graduating. Both of those cities probably ended up making me more experimental as an artist and vocalist.
You’d originally planned to get into film while attending USC, how does cinema/visual art play a role in your music?
I’m extremely hands-on with all of my videos! I co-produce each and every one. And creating the visuals is arguably just as fun as the songwriting process for me. Sometimes as I’m writing, I’m jotting down notes about the visual for when the song is finished at the same time.
I Feel Like Color came out last year and earlier this year you released “Heart’s Desire,” is there an EP or album on the horizon for the last half of 2018?
I’m always writing and creating, but in this day and age so much is rushed, and I’m working hard to take my time on things despite what’s trendy. I don’t want to give a hard deadline for anything but there is definitely more to come. While people wait for more things to soothe their ears, I have brand new merch to please the eyes! Everything is officially available on my site — courtnie.online.