War. So much meaning, so much emotion, so much sorrow and anger and sadness and fear and uncertainty packed into one, tiny, little word…a word the whole world is talking about these days.
War. It’s what Kristin Andreassen pondered as she wrote “How the Water Walks,” which you’ll find on the album she released earlier this year, Gondolier.
“How the Water Walks” is “about war,” Andreassen says. “It’s about how they start, which I’m suggesting has more to do with fear than with aggression or desire.”
The song, which is filled with haunting imagery and thought-provoking lyrics, feels…personal. Perhaps due to the “body” percussion Andreassen uses throughout, perhaps because the idea of being totally alone in the woods is a bit daunting, perhaps because the horror of war is in direct contradiction to the peace of the great outdoors. With soft hand claps and foot taps echoing the gentle splish splash of water against rocks, if you close your eyes, it’s like you’re right there in that tent, too.
The song is more than powerful enough on its own. But right about this time last year, Andreassen and musician-artist-creator Anna Roberts-Gevalt teamed up to produce something that adds another dimension to it, another layer for the listener to experience.
Roberts-Gevalt is one-half of Anna and Elizabeth, a duo that strives to present traditional music to a whole new audience of music lovers with amazing voices, fantastic instrumentation and…crankies (hand-cranked pictorials crafted from fabric, yarn and other colorful elements).
It wasn’t exactly a crankie that Andreassen wanted for their collaboration: “I just wanted it to be something that inspired her [Roberts-Gevalt], and I wanted it to be something that we could re-create live on a special occasion…I was hoping she’d do something similar but different for this video.”
And…she did. “Anna brainstormed images and approaches for me on a private blog…one of the pictures she posted there was of her grandfather on D-Day, in a boat, about to land in France…I was really drawn to that.”
For her part, Roberts-Gevalt says she “started reading and thinking about what it would be like, to be waiting for war, the way Kristin is in the song. I am not sure, really, that the video centers on a war on particular – just imagining it. Which is also why I liked using shadows – you only see the shadow of an image I painted, which seem to echo the way memories and imagination works in the mind.”
Using a string-filled wooden box, flashlights, photographs and original art, the steam from a tea kettle, and of course, shadows, Andreassen and Roberts-Gevalt have created another way for any listener to experience “How the Water Walks”: it’s a mini-movie, a tiny story brought vividly to life in black and white and gray.
Andreassen says she wants anyone who watches to “feel the presence of me the ‘singer’ or ‘narrator’ and to get a sense of the organic nature of the soundscape…I went back to Anna’s and said just shine a flashlight on me and film the shadow of me doing the rhythm…it hopefully helps the song feel more like folk music and less like ‘studio magic.’ Both the song and the video are very human-scale, organic projects, which I think is important given the content.”