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  • Al Stephens

Premiere: Stephie James bring retro-glam cool with new video for "Party Doll"

Stephie James unveils her latest gem, the shimmering single/video "Party Doll," set to drop on February 15th. Her classic pop style transports listeners to a world of popping champagne in a Midnight Cadillac and cruising neon-lit city streets. James crafts a joyous yet melancholy scene with lines like, "Makes no difference when I leave / or if I stay all night / I Wake up and find you on my mind / Out on the town / I’m his pretty party doll ."

In the accompanying video, directed by Joshua Shoemaker, known for his work with luminaries like Margo Price and Faye Webster, James takes on retro-glam personas as she preps for a night out, perfectly mirroring the bittersweet essence of the song's lyrics. Through mirror balls, candles, television sets and makeup, James' visuals are delivered through film grain, VHS fuzz, digital 4k and loads of retro-chic fashion.

"When it came to my lip sync performances, I wanted to lean into a kind of deadpan style to juxtapose the disco ball, bright lights, dancing, 'party' cliches of a song aptly titled 'Party Doll,'" says James. "If you listen to the lyrics, that attitude serves the song most authentically... it's all about a role we're resigned to play - self-created - to disguise what's below the surface. The idea of running the handicam footage through the TV, shot at different speeds, maintains that sort of detached concept - you never see me directly interacting in the nightlife scenes, but rather that content is displayed more like last night's Instagram story or a separate, compartmentalized episode that isn't necessarily a realistic reflection of who we are."

"I've always loved Shoemaker's work and knew we could make some special visual content for this song. He brought along a really brilliant gaffer named Justin Hughes, to light the scenes, and Alex Jensen as the art director. We were drawing from some 1970's glitz and glam vibes... the shimmering gold backdrop lit under a dramatic spotlight, the fur coat, the velvet textures, the bubbly champagne toast, etc... Maybe with a bit of a noir atmosphere. I love movies so making videos to accompany the songs is always fun. I can't cite any singular influence for this one, but I had recently watched a John Cassavettes film called "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" and that was definitely on my mind when we were working up some of the nightlife styles and the absurdity of it, all with a very unique style."

James' has already released singles "Losing Side," "Company" and "Five & Dimer" leading up to the release of her debut full-length album, As Night Fades on March 1st. "Losing Side" has a '60s girl group sound with bouncy, jangly guitars and warbling organs that make you feel like you're drinking with her in some Nashville dive bar. "Company" is an end-of-the-night hook up song that feels like an outtake from a Tarantino soundtrack. Its sensuality is elevated by the classic Hollywood orchestral strings. "Five & Dimer" is a breezy song about young love that has an incredibly satisfying move from verse's groove to the subtly explosive chorus. If these songs are any indication, As Night Fades is going to be an exciting addition to this year's pre-spring releases.

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