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First Watch: Maya De Vitry's Healing Song And Astonishing Video


Courtesy of the artist

It took a beckoning of sorts for the Stray Birds leader Maya De Vitry to write songs for her own album. It also required a great deal of patience, confidence and determination. Add to that the care and craft on this video premiere for "My Body Is A Letter," and you may feel as I did — eager to hear her debut solo record, Adaptations.

This video is nothing short of astonishing. Its dazzling effects, accomplished simply with stop-motion animation, large sheets of black paper and an exacto knife, are mind boggling. The song, Maya told me via email, was inspired by a conversation with a friend, "about the gentleness, awareness, and consciousness with which we long to be touched and heard and seen." Maya De Vitry says, "I first reached out to the visual artist Andrew Benincasa in September. I was familiar with his work through a beautiful music video he'd made for the band Darlingside ("The God of Loss"), which had made a very strong impression on me several years ago. I had a dream to work with him on a video for 'My Body Is A Letter.'

"Andrew agreed enthusiastically and we conceptualized the video over several emails and over the phone (he lives in Brooklyn, and I live in Nashville). His attention and care was profound throughout the process, although we've still never met in person. As we unpacked more concepts and images, Andrew's partner, Amandine Kaye, joined the team. She works with victims of sexual assault — and is also a visual artist — and the song resonated with her deeply.

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"As Andrew and Amandine further developed the concept together, he shared with me that he asked Amandine the question, 'how have you felt unseen as a person, as a woman?' And I wonder — how might our human relationships transform when we dare to ask each other such a question? It is a true privilege to share 'My Body Is A Letter,' and to honor and celebrate the abundant pain and resilience and hope that lives within our story-filled bodies."

The album Adaptations, by Maya De Vitry, was produced by Dan Knobler and features Jason Burger on drums, Sam Grisman on bass and Anthony da Costais on guitar. It's out Jan. 25 on her own label, Mad Maker Studio.

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