Kids and Chemicals: Sea of Trees
written by tamara styer
FROM CULT FAVORITE ELECRTO-POP duo Kids and Chemicals comes this dreamy, alternative rock tune that is one of the most inspired tracks we’ve heard this season. Transcendent in its delivery, “Sea of Trees” has brought the band’s sound to a new level. The band’s new single and accompanying music video have gained coverage from publications like clrvynt.com and New Noise Magazine, and coupled with the release of a full-length album entitled After Life, this might be Kids and Chemicals’ most anticipated project yet.
From left, Blake Mixon, Liz Carney, Patrick Carney and Jason Nunn.
Siblings from Springfield, Missouri, Patrick and Liz Carney have been churning out solid records for the past six years. Their 2011 self-titled debut established their dark synth sound with an electronic-heavy record that showcased the duo’s standout songwriting and unique live performances. The live experience is unforgettable, and their underground fan base nears on obsession. Liz is stunningly modelesque, and on stage she appears completely in her own world, ushering concert-goers into an altered state of mind, her voice resonating like a bell over beat-driven electronic tracks. She reminds us of the confessional alternative singer/songwriters of the 90s: imagine if Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos or Fiona Apple were making music in the IDM genre. Liz Carney embodies that kind of star quality and a vocal expertise to match.
|Photos from the "Sea of Trees" music video released earlier this year by Kids and Chemicals.|
Patrick exudes his own entrancing stage presence, hovering over his electronic devices as his body moves to the music they are creating together. Their live performance is an energetic experience unlike anything else in the Springfield music scene. The addition of Blake Mixon on drums and Jason Nunn on bass brings a whole new dimension to their sound, both on stage and in the studio.
Their 2011 self-titled debut album delivered a 10-track LP of energetic songs ranging from bright rhythmic beats to trance-inducing sonic textures, Liz’s voice complimenting every change in mood like a machine.
In 2014, Kids and Chemicals released a five-track EP entitled Pale Horse that only deepened our fixation of their haunting rage-synth sound. Inspired by an apocalyptic theme, the duo wrote the entirety of Pale Horse with the end of the world in mind. While the subject might be dark, their sophisticated and ambient sound was most prevalent. Songs like “Fog” and “Mountains of the Dead” were dreamy and otherworldly, while “War Machine” was a pulse-driven, blood churning EDM track, accentuated by Liz’s voice ripping into savage screams through the chorus.
With the release of their new single, “Sea of Trees,” earlier this year, we get a glimpse into an even more refined sound from Kids and Chemicals. The song brings in an atmospheric rock element that we haven’t heard before from the band. Featuring heavy alt guitar and a slight Celtic tint a la The Cranberries, “Sea of Trees” is an indie rock nonpareil.
This track is both memorable and meaningful, telling the story of two girls in love. When one dies, the other wants to follow, and she contemplates suicide so she can be with her lover again.
“Patrick wrote this one,” says Liz. “It’s part of a whole story we wrote for the album. A few years ago, Patrick and I found out about that crazy forest in Japan where people go to off themselves, and that’s where Patrick got the name for the song.”
Liz is referring to the Aokigahara, also known as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees. It’s an eerily quiet and thick forest full of twisting trees thriving on 12 square miles of hardened lava that makes compasses go haywire and sightseers easily lost. Though most people who visit this mysterious forest are not there to check out the famous ice caves and rare glimpses of Mount Fuji. Many people who wander into the dense forest don’t plan on ever coming back out. The Aokigahara is the chosen resting place for over 100 suicides every year, and is rumored to be riddled with bones and malicious ghosts that lure woeful visitors to their self-inflicted demise.
Though it’s a subject matter that can merit hours of internet research, the idea behind Kids and Chemicals’ song is ultimately the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. It deals with the emotions of utter despair and sentimentality that come with the loss of a loved one. And who among us wouldn’t long to join our most beloved in the afterlife if we could? “I can’t hide my tears anymore / There are too many to hide.”
“This song is based on an idea I kind of halfway believe about the afterlife,” says Patrick. “It’s [the idea that] when you die you will sort of share consciousness with all the other people who have died, and especially people you were close to. So when you and your loved ones all die you will all become aware of each other’s earthly secrets and misdeeds. This song is about a girl who is about to commit suicide to be with her dead lover, but she is worried that her lover won’t want her in the afterlife once all the bad things the girl has done are revealed to her.”
It has to do with the innate human fear that once we die and join our loved ones in the afterlife, all our deepest, darkest secrets will be revealed. But in this case, the young woman cannot bear to live without her love and chooses to risk revealing her secrets in return for being with her lover again. “All my secrets will come out / My bones kept all my secrets until now / All the lies I told will leave my body with my soul.”
Whether or not we believe in life after death, this song certainly tells a romantic story, and is only part five of a seven-song saga on the full length album, After Life.
“This song is way more rock, and way more traditionally structured than our previous stuff,” says Patrick. “We’re releasing our next track from our upcoming album on June 22, and we’ll be releasing the full album, After Life, in August.”
The music video for “Sea of Trees” is a visually stunning compliment to this ambient track, evoking the depth and meaning behind the song, while breathing a whimsical romance into the beautiful story. Produced by Mason Mercer, the video is a compelling addition to the project.
“He’s a super talented dude,” says Patrick of Mercer. “He came up with the whole concept for the video and we were just along for the ride. It was super easy and fun; he did all the work!”
“Sea of Trees” is a polished release that has set the stage for what could be the most mainstream record we’ve heard from Kids and Chemicals. Staying true to their electronic roots is paramount, but the addition of alternative grunge guitars and a steady rock beat will only prove to bring in more fanatics of their distinct sound and cool vibe. We can expect that every song they churn out will tell a story with as much depth and reverie as this one. “My thoughts are of you in the Springtime / when the crocuses bloom / I sit down in the rain and open my veins / and wane away with the moon.” DM
Get the newly released After Life album on iTunes or stream it on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. See the music video for "Sea of Trees" - among other cool songs from Kids and Chemicals - on YouTube. To see this feature in Deitra Magazine, along with more music, fashion and art coverage, order your copy of Deitra Issue 13.
All contents property of Deitra LLC. Photographs property of Kids and Chemicals. Published in Deitra Magazine Issue 13. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited.