Today, indie pop songstress Marielle Kraft premieres the new music video for her enigmatic track “Better Without You”. As the viewer follows Kraft around, we see her singing next to tall windows, taking to the subway, and enjoying the sunshine. Her gorgeous vocals lead us along, as the emotion from the lyrics is palpable on her face. With each passing second, we allow ourselves to fall more deeply into this incredible soundscape.
Check out the new video below, followed by some words with Marielle, who gave us a behind the scenes look at the production process.
What songs/artists/feelings did you specifically draw from for “Better Without You”?
This song came from a place of finally wanting to move on, even when I didn’t feel ready. I had just moved back to Delaware, and was faced with so many difficult memories again from both a fully joyful and painful chapter of my life there. Instead of writing a sad or angry song about these wounds reopening, I chose to write about moving forward despite my past, and becoming a better version of myself. Instead of this being a typical breakup song, it became a self-empowering anthem for growth and independence.
In the production of the song, I drew from artists Lauv and Betty Who, both of whom write honestly but arrange their songs with hopeful pop beats. I wanted this song to be fun, even if it wasn’t fully “happy.”
You gave a TEDX talk on songwriting at Firefly Festival. Do you find that you tend to follow a pattern or specific process in your songwriting, or does it differ song to song?
Most of my songs are hashed out and finished on my bed or bedroom floor, but they all begin in different ways. Sometimes a lyric idea will hit me when I’m out with friends and I overhear an intriguing conversation, or when I’m on the road, or in the grocery store, or cooking a meal. I’ll jot it down in my phone notepad, or record a snippet of a melody as a voice note. Tons of lines and ideas are scattered throughout my phone, but only a handful end up taking shape as complete songs.
“Better Without You” was born from the simple iPhone note, “working on having more empathy” – which later became the opening line to the song once I sat down on my bed to revisit the idea a few days later.
Where did the idea for the video come from, and what was the production process like?
I worked with Mitchell Straub on this video, who is another young and driven dream-chaser in the arts industry. We wanted this video to reflect my difficult thought process of leaving behind heart-break to finding empowered independence. It would feature only me, reflecting on my past and future in different aesthetic environments: some more vacant (the empty warehouse, symbolizing the emptiness I felt leaving behind my past relationship, yet still letting hopeful light in through the windows), and some more vibrant (the green field representing growth, the city light representing new opportunities). Throughout the video, there are b-roll clips of me traveling around the city, via Subway and walking, meant to represent moving forward to something better despite the hurt. Filming lasted 2 days, and we shot in 8 different locations in and around Pittsburgh.
Any fun anecdotes from filming?
One shot we were determined to capture was the subway arriving, rushing past me as I waited to board. We waited on the platform for 15 minutes, only to miss the subway because it arrived on the opposite track. Then we waited again and other people obstructed the shot. Finally on our third attempt, we were set to nail it when the train rolled in at snail pace – the most anticlimactic arrival we could have ever imagined. It was hilariously lame. My hair didn’t whirl like we had envisioned, the sound didn’t roar, and we cracked up having tried so hard for one shot that simply wasn’t meant to be that way.
What environment can you imagine people listening to this track in?
This track is a road trip windows-down, traveling to a better place song to belt on back roads or the highway. It’s a “I need to pick myself back up from my bedroom floor” track, too, and one to share alongside friends who encourage you to be the best version of yourself. I hope that wherever people listen, it makes them feel free.
Keep up with Marielle here.