Unrequited love is tricky business. It’s even tougher when the object of affection falls for someone else. “To the girl with another man, what the hell you doin with him?” Jack Killen, who goes simply by his stage name KILLEN, scoffs with “Invisible Guy,” festooned with spooky, crispy synths and drums. “I can play the waiting game / I can’t help a hating him / Why the hell you datin’ him / He’s a piece…” It seems like a stupid kind of thing, to lust after someone who may never returned the adoration, but it taps into the most basic of human desires.
It’s messy. It’s bewildering. And it’s slippery. The line into stalker territory, as could be perceived by outsiders, is a thin one. “If you’re looking that hard into someone else’s love life, someone may look back and see a stalker. If you’re right, you’re good, but you could be dead wrong,” says Killen. Love and obsession often run parallel and the boundaries blurred, almost unrecognizable. “Does the girl in this song even know she’s the target of affection?” he ponders. He might be right. “Who knows.”
Not necessarily lifted from his own life, the ominous piece is intended to mirror humanity, rather than a personal, detached story. “I hope the listener feels more like it is their biography than my autobiography,” he says.
“Invisible Guy” is contained on KILLEN’s upcoming new EP, Black Sneakers on Concrete, out this Friday (Feb. 9). On how it fits into the greater puzzle, he explains, “All the songs on the [project] are about different situations we find ourselves in. These feelings are feelings lots of people have had, and I wanted to make sure the song got out there.”
In the song’s visual, premiering today, director and editor Marion Mauran draws upon such cinematic classics as Rocky IV, Rocky Horror Picture Show and “the moodiness expressed through color in ‘Less Than Zero,'” she says. With cinematography by Chilean photographer Javier Alvarez, the team play with grim color palettes and stark, overcast lighting choices, harkening to a more gritty era. “The pounding rhythm of Jack’s song reminded me of white lines on a black highway whooshing by. I immediately thought of the driving montage in Rocky IV,” says Mauran, whose skill exacerbates the song’s primal fury, adding, “The feeling I get from the song and what inspired the video, was not necessarily a stalker vibe but definitely resentment and longing, even rage. The red lips tease and taunt the driver in his imagination. Driving can often be an outlet for a lot of negative emotions ⎯⎯ as expressed in so many movies.”
“A late night drive in the city is a good time to talk to the voices in your head,” notes Killen.
Filmed on the damp Brooklyn Streets, particularly a stretch of Ralph Avenue, the visual feels almost claustrophobic, a psychological study in heartache and madness. “The landscape is midnight in the land of shadowy majestic brownstones, bodegas under an elevated subway and classic New York pounded pavement,” describes Killen. “It was a heated September night and they used a camera mount on a borrowed car.”
“The mind can be a very dark and brooding place when you feel invisible to the object of your desire. The interior of the car is an extension of that feeling of powerlessness,” Mauran says.
Killen is set to play an EP release show this Thursday (Feb. 8) at Mercury Lounge.
Photo Credit: Courtney Killen