Premiere: Kat Cunning Unveils Her Sun-Dappled “Birds” Video
Kat Cunning needs to be on your radar. The multi-talented hitmaker launched a music career with the release of her debut single “Baby” in 2017. Boasting an evocative production centered on her unique voice, the track served as a fitting introduction to her musicality. It also paved the way for her sprawling follow-up single “Wild Poppies,” which netted her a viral hit. And she has what could be another on her hands with this year’s “Birds.” Gracefully flitting over another gorgeous instrumental, the single is deceptively peaceful in comparison to the lyrical content.
“The song is about birds pecking at you – thoughts that keep you up at night… the arresting feeling that you can’t and won’t ever fit in,” the singer and actor explained in a press release. Kat’s personal experiences with feeling that way inspired the music video. Directed by Maddy Talias and set in a school auditorium, the sun-dappled visual is simple but all the more striking for it. Delivering soulful choreography in some scenes with a crew of dancers, it feels both deeply personal and widely relatable. “I wanted us to look like the freaks in school that a lot of us were,” she added.
“Degenerates that bite their nails all through math to leave at the bell and dance more freely, sing more loudly and speak more clearly than the structures that hold us back.” We’re proud to partner with Kat Cunning to premiere the “Birds” video. That’s not all though. I also had the opportunity to ask her some questions about the song and its accompanying video. She opened up about the video and how it spontaneously came together during a photoshoot. She also opened up about some acting projects, including her most recent role on this summer’s Netflix show Trinkets.
Get an exclusive first look at the video and then dive into our Q&A below.
“Birds” has such a lovely, peaceful sound to it. But lyrically the birds you’re singing about don’t sound as peaceful. Can you talk a little about how the song came together and what it means to you?
I wasn’t sure what the birds were at the time but the main image driving the lyric was the idea of birds pecking at the inside of my skull. I liked the juxtaposition of a sweet melody because I was feeling really introverted and alone with my own painful thoughts that day and I started singing it to calm myself down.
The video is really quite striking as well. What was it like working on it?
It was awesome! I got to make it with a bunch of my friends on the fly on the set of what was originally planned as a photoshoot. We made the whole thing in 3 hours – that’s including the choreography. I think my performance in the video is a testament to how much I trust and love working with Maddy Talias who shot it.
What were your intentions when you started shooting? What were you hoping to convey?
When I sing the song live, it really cuts people, so I wanted to have the opportunity to give people a video of me telling the story. I said- “just a one shot of me performing, ya it’ll be great.” Before you know it I’ve roped in a bunch of dancers and costumes and some tulle… you don’t want to know what didn’t make it into the video.
In a press release it mentions that you asked around on social media to find a cinematographer to work with before being introduced to Maddy Talias. What made her seem like the right choice for the project?
Meeting her! I loved a lot of her work that showed her ability to capture the queer community beautifully, truthfully. What I wanted, more than anything, was to trust someone to capture a less theatrical side of me, so it meant the world to me that (almost right away,) I was at ease with her. She’s like family to me now.
Last year you had a role in HBO’s The Deuce. This year you’re working with Netflix on Trinkets. First of all, congratulations. Secondly, can you tell me anything about your new role?
Yes! My role in Trinkets is a its a bit of a secret (no spoilers here) but I can tell you that my music plays an integral part to my character and that it is truly romcom magic. Kiwi Smith is one of my favorite writers and she became a fan of my music so the whole project is really a dream come true for me. I’m also working on The Deuce’s third and final season and I am so sad to see it come to an end but thrilled about Christina’s journey.
Does it ever get hard balancing your schedule with both music and acting work involved?
It does but that’s a great problem to have! I make a serious effort to make sure my team understands the importance of both.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
I am thrilled to be releasing a bunch of new music around the release of Trinkets and I have an official EP to follow which I’m also gearing up to tour in the fall! Stoked to say we’re going to radio with my next single, and I’m also so excited to be more involved than ever in NY Pride as a musician!
It looks like you’re working on your debut EP right now. What should we expect from the project?
A lot of feelings. Hah! I am designing the cover art right now and looking at the collection of songs and articulating their message has really shown me what these songs are about. At the heart of it, the project is a reminder to all the apathetic hipsters of my generation who find it poplar not to care, that feeling is good. Vulnerability is bravery. Love is always worth the risk.
Do you have a release date in mind yet?
Late summer / fall.
What would you say your biggest musical goal is?
I feel like the goal is always to touch people, to change them; to help them escape and empower them. I get to satisfy that goal every time I perform whether it’s to a room of 20-2000. I guess the goal is to keep those numbers growing. I wanna be as big as Freddie Mercury. I wanna play the superbowl. I want to inspire people to embrace who they are and to be empathetic to others and I think pop has the power to do that to every lonely kid in every part of the world.
Also, how would you describe your sound?
Like a miniature hot dog. Hearty and bold, with lots of warm textures to tie it up.