Charlene Kaye is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who spent her childhood in some rather far-flung places across the globe — living in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong and Michigan before she turned 18. Although she spent time in a number of different places throughout the bulk of her childhood, there was one consistent thing: her parents old soul records and 90s grunge radio, both of which have heavily influenced her own work and career.
Initially starting her career as a solo artist, Kaye is best known for a five year stint as the frontwoman of acclaimed indie act San Fermin, contributing to 2015’s Jackrabbit and 2017’s Belong, which were supported with touring internationally, including sets across the global festival circuit. While touring with San Fermin to support Jackrabbit, Kaye started her latest solo recording project KAYE, releasing a handful of singles and KAYE’s debut EP 2016’s Honey.
Last year, Kaye left San Fermin in order to fully concentrate on her solo career. Late last month, Kaye began the year with the Kirk Schoenherr-co-produced single “Closer Than This,” a bold and self-assured feminist pop anthem seemingly indebted to Cherelle, Patrice Rushen, Madonna and Control-era Janet Jackson while thematically touching upon lust, desire, longing, idealization and fantasy and self-preservation, as it features a narrator, who will only give on her terms. “Too Much,” Kaye’s latest single continues an ongoing run of feminist anthems featuring narrators, who have asserted themselves on their own terms. However, unlike its immediately predecessor, “Too Much” is a decidedly electro rock affair that brings St. Vincent and Garbage to mind, thanks in part to some blistering guitar rock and an arena rock friendly hook.
“I wrote this song to make sense of a period of great emotional confusion in my life,” Kaye explains in press notes. “I had made many drastic changes at the same time regarding my career and my relationships and was left feeling totally unanchored, like I just blew up my life for no reason — even though at my core I knew it was necessary for my own growth.”
Directed by Kaye’s sister Liann Kaye, the recently released video for “Too Much” is inspired by Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance art work “Cut Piece,” in which Ono sits on a stage wearing her best suit, inviting audience members to cut and keep a piece of her clothing until she is completely exposed. Instead of having others remove pieces of her outfit, in the video Kaye is the agent of her metaphorical destruction and rebirth. Kaye’s outfit, which is made up of thousands of individual pieces of fabric that took hours to arrange on her body — and in the video we see pieces of her outfit get torn off, danced off and just fly off until we see the rising pop artist in a nude-colored outfit.
“I love working with my sister because we’re so in sync creatively, and immediately understand what the other is trying to express.” Liann Kaye shares in press notes. “We shot each part of the song at a different speed, to show how the re-invention of one’s self can feel at once excruciatingly slow and like a freight train of change at the same time.”