Video Premiere: KaiL Baxley Evokes Grit and Beauty on “Beneath the Bones”

Soaked in emotion and passion, KaiL Baxley showcases his unmatched musicianship with “Beneath The Bones,” and Atwood Magazine spoke to him about its music video and story.

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There is a difference between burying the past and moving on from it. To live without regret is not a luxury many have—people often wishing or hoping to go back and change what has already been done. However, it’s an impossible task, so as a workaround, attempts to stash and hide are made, all resulting in the same truth: the past can never be buried. The only way to go is forward, a sentiment KaiL Baxely shares with an outpour of emotion on his latest track “Beneath The Bones.” The story doesn’t end there, though. The video counterpart grabs these ideas and visualizes them with great care, and Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering it today!

Beneath The Bones – KaiL Baxley

South Carolina-based artist KaiL Baxley provided the Americana genre a sublime and hearty piece of music with October’s “Beneath The Bones.” The track utilizes a hauntingly beautiful choir hymn that lays the groundwork for the delicate guitar melodies and string arrangements that enrapture listeners with the moody, serene, and alluring atmosphere they create. It’s a track that one can latch onto instantly, the idea of being unable to bury one’s past a struggle most can relate to. Lyrically, it’s Baxley at his finest—possessing a poignant wit with his writing that allows listeners to dive headfirst into his mind, painting a personal picture of the ache he carries.

That mental painting is then transported into reality, and it’s done so with a sun adorned wooded glen that provides an onrush of scenery that complements the theme behind the track. The video follows Baxley as he ventures further into a forest with shovel in hand, searching for a particular spot. As he stumbles upon it, he fails at burying his past, all of it unearthed and unable to stay put. The essence of the track was captured perfectly, adding to the already stunning piece of music, pushing it to new heights.

The Americana genre is rife with passion, but KaiL Baxley manages to standout with his signature gravelly voice, evocative lyricism, and penchant for simple yet immensely powerful melodies. He’s an artist with stories to share, and we’re all eagerly awaiting for him to unleash them.

“Beneath The Bones” is to be featured on his upcoming third album, and Atwood Magazine had the chance to speak with Baxley on the new album, the process behind the music video, and more. Get all the info in our exclusive interview!

Watch: “Beneath The Bones” – KaiL Baxley


Atwood Magazine: Thanks for taking the time to connect! 2015 saw the release of A Light That Never Dies, and now, almost five years later, the follow-up is near. During that interlude, what sort of growth were you experiencing as a person and as a musician?

KaiL Baxley: Honestly, a lot of that time was spent dealing with the business of music which I’ve come to find is an education unto itself and comes with a good many growing pains. No one tells you in the beginning, “Hey look both ways when crossing the intersection of Art and Commerce or you might get run over” haha! But in the end, it all shakes out I suppose. You just have to let the music be your guiding compass. Write for yourself and be as true to that compass as you can. That’s been my greatest lesson.

How does the new album compare to your previous ones? What does this upcoming album mean to you?

KaiL Baxley: This album just feels bigger to me on a sonic level. I’m sure it has a similar thread or thumbprint as my previous work, but this is the first one I’ve self-produced completely so I was really able to take my time. It was also a different approach to writing for me. I lost my mother in the interim of this and the last record. I just didn’t wanna put out some sad grief-stricken collection of songs. So I started writing songs that were upbeat and groove-driven. Even though I was in a sad place I was able to make myself happy by submerging myself in these tunes. It’s really beyond words what music can do.

Something I love with your music is how impassioned and personal you become, which is also quite evident with “Beneath The Bones.” How do you tackle your songwriting process? Do the music or lyrics come first?

KaiL Baxley: Oh, there’s no method to the madness really. They all show up in different ways. I do find that the songs seem to almost pick a lane with me so to speak. I tend to naturally write in a confessional manner (the slow lane). A point in case “Beneath the Bones” but sometimes I’ll just hear a groove or horn line and it’s like ohh we’re taking in (the fast lane) today. I think the important thing is to not get in the way of the music. Don’t step on the muses dress when she’s leading you to the dance floor.

KaiL Baxley © Jenna Ohnemus Peffley

With your music being so personal, have you ever experienced moments where you felt uneasy in sharing your music? If so, how did you overcome these emotions?

KaiL Baxley: Oh for sure. There’s a large number of songs I’ll never share with anyone. I’m sure we all have those. Music has a healing power. It’s good medicine for the creator and the listener alike. The few personal songs I have released I definitely felt a little uneasy about putting them out. But the process of literally releasing that energy to the world was very therapeutic, and it generated an unexpected response from people. Because we’re all going through something and it’s very comforting to be able to relate to someone else’s story or hardship. It makes us feel like we’re not alone. I learned that after receiving a few letters about this song or that. People come up after shows and tell you stories about they’re lives and how this song helped them through a tough period. It’s very humbling and gratifying to know that something as simple as a song could help. It makes it easier to wear your heart on your sleeve.

Transitioning now to the music video for Beneath The Bones,” it’s pack with symbolism and personality--the idea of not being able to bury your past being present. How does this visual reflect the song for you?

KaiL Baxley: I suppose in the idea that you’re acting in reverse of your own best interest.

What was the video-making process like for you and your team? Did you go into the video with the idea of parts being reversed or did that idea come later?

KaiL Baxley: I have a great director and cameraman in my friend Ryan Sheehy. We just wanted to execute a simple idea and make it eloquent. The whole video is shot in reverse. When it looks like I’m walking forwards I’m actually walking backward and the film is reversed. Then we wanted to pivot when the digging starts to kinda bring it home with dramatic effect. I dunno if you’ve ever tried to dig a hole backward but it’s fucking hard haha. The whole time you’re watching it feels like there’s something kinda off and then you see the shovel scenes in reverse and the “Ah-ha” moment occurs. Like in real life when you realize “I can’t run from this.”

What made this location the place to film? How does it act as an extension for your song and its meaning?

KaiL Baxley: Actually the location was unplanned. I had the idea for a visual storyline to represent the song in my head but it could have happened anywhere. I just happened to be up in the mountains working on material for the follow up to this next record and we took advantage of the surroundings.

As an aside, I love the story of you accidentally stumbling upon the wasp’s nest. If anything, it shows you are truly an artist that suffers for his craft! How long did you have to wait before being able to safely retrieve your dropped items?

KaiL Baxley: Ha! We waited a good half hour and then crept in ninja style and grabbed the gear. No further injury!

KaiL Baxley © Monica Lightstone

Many records often see a message or theme present on them, providing a window into the artist’s or band’s headspace. With that in mind, what are you looking to share with the new album? What story are you wanting to tell?

KaiL Baxley: I hope as with any project like this that it runs the full range of colors and emotions. A snapshot of human experience. I was homesick for the South but heartsick when I was there. I’m sure that’s evident in the music. Then, at times, I found happiness in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. I think this album is the soundtrack of that tug of war.

To close out, what are you most excited about when the album releases early next year? What do you hope fans will receive out of their first listen?

KaiL Baxley: I’m probably most excited to hit the road and tour this record in 2020. It’s been a minute and I love getting out there and connecting with people. And as for what I hope the fans will receive from it… Well, I just hope they’ll wanna listen again.

Watch: “Beneath The Bones” – KaiL Baxley

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? © Jenna Ohnemus Peffley

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