With the world’s climate emergency only getting worse, it’s fitting that Vancouver, BC-born, Victoria, BC-based alt-folk artist Kele Fleming has dialed up the intensity of her call-to-action pop ballad “Vanishing of Bees” with a dark, soaring Synthwave remix and accompanying video.
The song, which Fleming and her band released last year with a new live video in honor of the same day, sits at the crossroads of a child’s wonder at discovery and an adult’s grief over what’s been lost.
“In the song, I call upon the memories of my childhood self — my wonder and love for the natural world,” Fleming shares. “This is contrasted with the adult voice in the song — a voice that expresses grief for what has been lost…
“Youth and the natural world threatened.”
A child in love with the trees
Gentle giants swaying above me
This verdant world set me free
In what the Vancouver Sun’s Stuart Derdeyn calls “a lush pop ballad boasting a soaring vocal on the chorus”, “Vanishing of Bees” powerfully juxtaposes a nostalgic, youthful worldview with the harsh reality of today’s global environmental crisis.
For Fleming, her approach to producing the video was no different.
“The music video, created from a mix of stock footage and footage I shot myself, juxtaposes images of lush beauty with withered landscapes,” Fleming says. “When I was making it, my imagination was flooded with memories of the scorching summer heat and destructive wildfires that raged in BC, where I live; I found the heat we experienced last summer quite terrifying, and I am fearful for our future.
“The thought of a world without bees and the impact of their absence is equally terrifying,” she adds. “I wanted to create something that honours Atlas to Earth’s interpretation of the song while amplifying the seriousness of the predicament we’re in.
“The video is meant to move you and terrify you a little — as I remain committed to using my art to provoke emotion and spur action.”
The original song features acoustic guitar, a killer bassline, and Fleming’s soaring vocals – and the whole thing is tied together with the texture of ‘60s psychedelia. In contrast, this new iteration, titled “Atlas to Earth Synthwave Remix,” is wholly modern, with building and dissolving walls of shimmering electronic sound; ethereal, high-as-the-heavens vocals; and some gorgeously dark, industrial synth.
The fourth single her fourth studio album The Song I’ll Write for My Whole Life, “Vanishing of Bees” made its first public bow on UN World Bee Day in 2019 as a fundraiser for the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project. “This project supports the protection and sustainment of key pollinator habitats and is very close to my heart,” explains Fleming. “The protection of bee and pollinator habitats is crucial to the sustainment of Earth’s ecosystems and our human food systems.”
A self-proclaimed “nature champion”, Kele (pronounced “Kelly”) Fleming wrote the songs for her latest album while on vacation in remote areas of B.C. and Ontario in 2019. “My writing for this song, and for the whole album, is preoccupied with capturing what we may soon lose in the climate emergency, and grieving that loss,” she said.