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Dance Through a New York City Night in Overcoats' First Video

Watch the visual for "Leave the Light On" from the folk-pop duo's debut album 'YOUNG.'

by Avery Stone
May 18 2017, 4:02pm

Credit: Allie Chernick

There's a reason coming-of-age stories are a thing: growing up is hard to do—especially when you have to take care of yourself, by yourself, while feeling lonely or lost. But in the video for "Leave the Light On" (premiering above), New York-based folk-pop duo Overcoats transforms these moments of vulnerability into a celebration of finding that strength, bit by bit. The song itself (from the group's 2017 debut LP, YOUNG) is bolstered by vibrant, close-knit harmonies and has a simple concept: when you come home at night, alone, and see you've left the light on for yourself—a flipped switch for a small bit of comfort.

The song's video also explores the interplay between light and dark. Filmed in the middle of the night near New York's Rockaway Beach, the duo—aka Hana Elion, 23, and JJ Mitchell, 24—joins dancers Quentin Stuckey and Martell Ruffin to perform a spellbinding sequence of choreography under streetlights. (Stuckey choreographed the routine; Ruffin took a night off from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the project.) The concept was born from the duo's brainstorming session with their friend, filmmaker Matt Hixon; they then brought directorial duo Charlotte Hornsby and Jesse Ruuttila on board: "Together, we decided that the video should play with themes of dark and light, and reflect the relationship that the two of us have," the duo says. "For us, 'Leave The Light On' is about self-reliance and practicing independence, even when you don't feel like you're ready for it. It's about growing up and being strong. [In the video] we are wearing these big suits, that we're drowning in, to symbolize the effort to be older and put together and in control, even when you feel too young or weak or small."

Funny enough, the video's most cathartic sequence comes when the lyrics seem the most destitute: "What if I don't make it home," Elion and Mitchell implore, "You're not there and the light's not on." But as they repeat the lines with more and more gusto, Stuckey and Ruffin's movements become explosive and fierce as they stare directly into the camera; at the same time, the streetlights begin to brighten. And yes, that transition was intentional: "The fact that the video is shot in the dark—and [that] the light sort of emerges by the end—is meant to reflect the process of creating your own light," the duo says. "The process of taking charge of your life."

YOUNG is out now on Arts & Crafts.

Avery Stone is a writer based in New York. Follow her on Twitter.