Premiere: Paradise Found in Tyesha Chaunté’s “Arcadia”

Still from "Arcadia" - Tyesha Chaunté
Still from "Arcadia" - Tyesha Chaunté

Getting away from it all isn’t just a travel ploy: most of us tend to get tired of being in the thick of life when things get overwhelming. Which is what makes the concept of what the Greeks called Arcadia — an unspoiled natural utopia — as appealing to us today as it’s been throughout Western history (at least to academics). But with all the cacophony of the digital world, creating an Arcadia (or even just more green space) sounds better than ever.

Originally from Fort Worth, soul/pop artist Tyesha Chaunte was drawn to the idea of an Arcadia, recognizing an idea she could turn into her own metaphor. Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the video for Tyesha Chaunté’s single “Arcadia” today. Off her debut EP EPSA (out 1/7/2017), the video for “Arcadia” takes advantage of the song’s natural imagery to create a story of transformation.

The sky is heavy from all the rain
Keeps pulling me down
I try to run, keep running away
Hoping I will be found
Watch: “Arcadia” – Tyesha Chaunté

The video’s first frames, hovering over a forest filmed in black and white, hearken back to its title. As the video progresses, there are more references to nature as we get a glimpse of the kind of Arcadia Chaunté envisions. Of course, there’s that element of unspoiled nature–the imagery of a place “where the river runs wild and breaks into the sea,” aided by the song’s natural-sounding instrumentation added by producer Kwame Nkrumah.  But Chaunté is referencing more than the pastoral perfection the ancient Greeks who coined the term had in mind–her Arcadia is a place of acceptance, safety, and love.

Directed by Christopher Lewis Dawkins, Chaunté’s video serves her song well. We can see Chaunté and Lisa Odour-Noah harmonizing, seamlessly working together to help set the sonic environment in which their characters will eventually find themselves. A monochromatic world sets the tone for their characters’ struggles: one roommate’s battle with body image, and the other’s insistence on being there for her, all happen indoors in that black-and-white world. But bright color and light slowly dawn over the video as each young woman chooses acceptance. The setting moves outside: there’s a sense of seasonal change, in the characters’ lives as much as in the cinematography.

Tyesha Chaunte © Mufaro Kambarami
Tyesha Chaunte © Mufaro Kambarami
When you take me to Arcadia
When you take me to Arcadia
Where the river runs wild
and breaks into the sea
Your love brings me to me knees
When you take me to arcadia

It’s important to note that Chaunté’s message in “Arcadia” takes root her religion. Chaunté never hides her spirituality, proclaiming that her work as a musician “represent[s] her faith in Christ” as well as the “creative” spirit “of [her] generation.” The song’s Arcadia is, Chaunté explains, a metaphor: “When [co-writer Callie Huber and I] came up with the concept we had the idea of heaven in our minds and set arcadia up as a metaphor for it.” As the characters in her video discover a renewed “Arcadia” within themselves, Chaunté invites her viewers in to find the same release, acceptance, and freedom in God’s love that they do.

At the end of it all, Chaunté has created a simple video that showcases not only her song, but also the beauty of its characters’ transformation. Her message is one we could all do with a bit more of: one that reminds us that love can be a radical agent for change. As Chaunté says of the video, “who doesn’t have it hard at times? And you just want to get away to a perfect world where someone understands…Having faith that change can and will happen over time, even when things seems like they’re at their worst.” Love, faith, and self-acceptance will create that Arcadia where we can all learn to be free.

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:: purchase EPSA EP here ::

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EPSA - Tyesha Chaunté

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photo © Tyesha Chaunté

EPSA – Tyesha Chaunté

EPSA - Tyesha Chaunté
EPSA – Tyesha Chaunté

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