Rising LA noir-pop artist Saro has a lot to celebrate these days. With two EPs on his label Mateo Sound under his belt, the singer recently landed on Rolling Stone's "New Artists You Need To Know" list, a Zane Lowe-premiered collaboration with Flight Facilities, cache-loaded performances at Day for Night and Northside Festival, and an upcoming slot at Bonnaroo.
But his nascent success comes as hard-won catharsis after years marked by challenge and tragedy, including bouts of homelessness and nights spent on studio floors, relationship reckonings, and the suicide of his best friend.
Saro channeled those experiences into his recently-released Boy Afraid EP. The work layers stark, seething pop production as a vessel for his quicksilver falsetto, processing experience through cracked defiance and, as on single "Sky Doesn't Blue," breathless sorrow and vulnerability.
The song, whose visual is premiering on Noisey today, unpacks the death of Saro's best friend and confronting the emotional collapse he experienced in the wake of her loss. The video is the first in a series to be released this month tied to the demons he reckons with across the EP.
It's a striking, gorgeously shot work helmed by director Merlin Camozzi and producer Linda Christina Riedmann that underscores the track's emotional turmoil with sleek modern dance cut with darker interpretive choreography; we see Saro lithe and shirtless, cast in shadow as he's dragged, pushed, and pulled by a crush of bodies from which he struggles to break free. "The sky doesn't blue like it used to / I'm not in a dream anymore," his voice quivers as he falls to his knees. Watching it, it's hard not to do the same.
Here's what Saro tells Noisey about the work:
My best friend, Simone Battle, committed suicide in 2014, and it sent me into a deep depression. She was the first person who inspired me to make music and to believe in me as a songwriter. With her death, a piece of me was lost. There were days where I felt like I was losing a fight with my own thoughts.
The visual for “Sky Doesn’t Blue” depicts the struggle with my mental state during the time following her death. The dancers represent my demons taking control and pulling me into the darkest part of my mind. By the end of the video, I go on the offensive to reclaim my power and sanity. Releasing the dark pent-up energy into my music was one of the most important parts of this process.
The “Sky Doesn’t Blue” visual is #1 of a five-part film in which my demons return to pull me under again, and I fight them off a second time before I decide to embrace them. I come to realize that everyone has their demons and they are an important part of who I have become and where I draw my artistic inspiration.
Watch the premiere of Saro's "Sky Doesn't Blue" video below, and stay tuned for more in the visual series this month.
Andrea Domanick is Noisey's West Coast editor. Follow her on Twitter.