It's pretty damn rare for a song to tug at the heartstrings the way that Kita Alexander's 'Hotel' does. Dedicated to her late sister Tash, the song is a heartfelt reminder that we can never truly let go of the ones that we love. With the much-anticipated film clip being released a few weeks ago, the song has now skyrocketed into the Australian music charts and perked up the ears of international music lovers. Film-maker Ash Schumann is one of our favourite Byron Bay creatives, so when we saw that the two had collaborated on this project we wanted to know more. Sitting down with Ashi and Kita, we chatted about the making of the film-clip, and how they worked within the dark themes of grief and loss to create something that sparkles with both light and magic.
Hey guys! First up, how did you two meet?
Ash: We met through our mutual friend Lisa Stricker - owner and creator of Lenni the Label. We were working on a creative project together down near Seal Rocks where we are both from, and we just knew each other's souls from day one I think. Kita was having a rough ride at the time with her sister being so sick, yet this beautiful, long haired beauty was so kind and such a lovely presence to be around.
Do you remember when you first heard her sing?
Ash: Yes! It was on the sand dunes at One Mile Beach. I encourage anyone to see Kita perform live. Her voice is beyond incredible and you will be blown away hearing it in person.
So how did this creative collaboration come about?
Kita: Ashi and I are good friends from home so we’ve always done creative stuff together - from photo shoots to behind the scenes kind of stuff. I love her so much, as a friend and as an artist. Anything creative she touches comes out with the coolest sprinkles of magic; she puts so much love into everything she does. Collaborating with her on this one was a no brainer. Because this song is so close to my heart, I only wanted people who were close to my heart to work on it.
Whose idea was the clip?
Kita: The bones of it were my idea. The majority of the clip is made up of memories I had with my sister. Ashi recreated it so perfectly and fleshed it out as a standalone story. She also created the ending which blew me away when she showed me.
It's such a personal story for you. Was it hard to let somebody else be so closely involved in this project?
Kita: It would have been hard if I was working with a stranger. But because we go way back, it was easy. Ashi and I met in the tumultuous time of when my sister was sick so she knows me, my story and really understands my direction in music and life.
Ashi, were you ever worried about doing the story justice?
Ash: I felt nervous as this was my first film clip that I had complete control over in terms of creative direction, film making and styling. I wanted it to be perfect for Kita and her family purely because it is such an emotional song.
In the end, I just felt so privileged to be able to create the visuals for a song that is held so close to Kita's heart. I have a lot of love for her and I wanted for this clip to be one of wonderful nostalgia and to imitate her beautiful memories of childhood with her sister.
You have a very distinctive, ethereal style. Who inspires you in the film-making industry? Did you have any specific inspiration for the 'Hotel' clip?
Ash: I love to shoot Super 8 and Kita loves that style too so we tried to incorporate that vibe into the clip to portray the concept of a home video of memories made by two sisters. Petra Collins is a huge inspiration to me, particularly with her lighting techniques. I guess I look up to film-makers and creators who introduce artificial light and make use of natural light in interesting ways. I try to steer away from anything that looks too much like 'real life'. I think film making lends itself to create a new, magical reality and it's so exciting to explore that.
You're a working mumma now, Kita. How did you find being on set for the first time since Vali was born?
Kita: My little baby was around 6 months when we filmed the clip. It was pretty funny actually; we were down the beach and our friend Tarik was there, so we gave Vali to him while we filmed a few metres away. Vali was watching the whole time!
The song is more of a ballad than your previous pop hits. Have your fans responded differently?
Kita: The response has been positively beautiful. I’ve had so many fans write to me saying how the song has helped them in their grieving process of losing loved ones. To have touched so many people in times when loss often overrides happiness means the world to me. I haven’t heard or seen one comment from a fan that was shocked by the change in tempo (laughs).
What can we expect from you in the next year or so?
I’m taking the first year of my son’s life off from music. It was an easy, yet hard decision. The album, it is always on my mind though. I guess we will all have to wait and see…
Special thanks to @warnermusicaustralia for helping us bring this story together.