Drag queens are practically synonymous with confidence, and on past musical releases, Shea Couleé flaunted fierceness, particularly on empowerment odes like “Cocky.” But beyond the makeup and the stage persona, there’s a real person who creates every drag alter ego, and on their latest musical offering, “Rewind,” Shea Couleé is getting more vulnerable than ever before.
Working with songwriter-producer GESS to create a mesmerizing mix of atmospheric R&B for the song, Couleé teamed with director Sam Bailey (co-creator of Brown Girls) and executive producer Vincent Martell (of Chicago production house VAM STUDIO) to create a music video for “Rewind.” Opting for a sparse apartment setting, sumptuous black and white cinematography and some heartfelt choreography that allows conflict to play out as dance, the “Rewind” video shows Shea — in and out of drag — reliving a fraught relationship.
“It has a very cinematic quality to match the cinematic quality of the song,” Couleé says. “And it’s kind of a glimpse into my life and my past.” The song speaks to “the concept of rewinding, as if our lives were films that we have the ability to go back and re-do.” And the inspiration behind it is extremely personal.
“The fans had only seen this high-energy, dance-y, confident music [from me] and this was my opportunity to show a little bit of vulnerability,” Couleé says. “The only relationship I ever had, other than the one I’m in now, he suffered from bipolar disorder and he wound up taking his life. It’s really, really hard. It’s such a weird heartbreak because there’s so many unanswered questions.” That’s where the wistful concept of rewind enters.
“When you don’t quite get closure, you dream about different scenarios of where it could’ve gone, what you could have done, and you try to rewind this narrative oftentimes so it happens with more of a happy ending — but that’s not always the reality. This deals with that – how memory is and when we reflect on it, we try to get the best edit that we can so it doesn’t hurt as much.” While the video is inspired by Couleé’s past, they acknowledge it’s not a direct “cut-and-paste” and “artistic liberties” were taken.
Ultimately, Couleé says the process of making the video was extremely “therapeutic.” And Couleé hopes to continue sharing their nuances with fans. “I enjoy being able to surprise people and reveal my different sides to them – sometimes people only see a certain side, and music allows yourself to express yourself a bit more.”