Writing a beautiful song is one thing—bringing it to life visually, however, is another. Up-and-coming singer, songwriter, and producer Jean Ryden has already proven a knack for both, especially on the heels of her most recent release, “Butterfly Effect,” for which the music video premieres today via V.
Hailing from Long Island, the emerging talent remains a bit of a mystery beyond a few recent singles, all but adding to the growing intrigue. V spoke with Ryden about the song, creating the video, and what’s coming next.
Let’s start with the song title. Why the name “Butterfly Effect?”
The song was inspired by the chaos theory which explores the idea that small changes can make a drastic impact. When I wrote “Butterfly Effect” I was recalling small moments that seemed inconsequential at the time but ended up changing the course of my life.
What was the connection between that song and ballet dancers/Black Swan?
I felt like in the way that butterflies are delicate and striking at the same time ballerinas have that same essence, and I wanted to capture this idea of a “delicate dance” while hinting at something more chaotic and dark going on under the surface. I also think ballerinas translate emotion so beautifully in a way that many other art forms can’t. Eoin Robinson, who choreographed this dance, did an incredible job of translating my song through this medium and the ballerinas were the perfect canvas so to speak, to further get the varying emotions across visually.
How did you wind up shooting this in Berlin? Do you have a specific connection to that city or ballet company?
I reconnected with an old friend I went to arts boarding school with, Eoin Robinson, who is an incredible ballerina and choreographer and we talked through the idea and he just got it. At the time he was with a ballet company in Berlin and generously offered to help. My girlfriend at the time (Co-director) was already out in Europe filming so we decided to meet in Berlin where he was based and shoot the video out there.
Do you have a lyric that you’re most attached to from this song?
“If I could keep you here within my reach would it be wrong to never let you leave“ – the song is essentially about succumbing to fate or lack thereof and in this line I call out the need for control and understanding, questioning if trying to control and analyze everything is equivalent to trapping a beautiful creature in a cage. I dream about the moments where I could’ve done one thing differently and the outcome of my life would be completely different, more specifically about loved ones I’ve lost, but I suppose everything that happens in life is for a reason so who am I to try and change or control fate?
How did the idea for this song come to you?
At the time when I was writing this project I was doing a lot of introspection, reflecting on my past, my childhood and the moments that led me to where I am today. The idea that the small choices I made along the way added up to the present moment felt shocking, like a butterfly flapping its wings causing a typhoon. I happened to be at a friend’s house talking about the concept, especially because the way this specific friend and I met took so many coincidences for us to cross paths. And I stopped what I was doing to get the production down, bounced the mp3, and wrote the chorus in my car on the drive home. I was being precious about this particular song and actually didn’t finish the verses until a few months later
Do you ever have visuals in mind for a song as you are writing it?
My songwriting is very visual on its own – I try to really give people a visual through my lyrics because that’s what resonates with me and my experience. My favorite songs I’ve ever written take me to a very specific place but I’m not always inspired to recreate those places directly in my visuals because often they feel a little too close to home / personal.
What do you have coming up that our readers should look out for?
I’ll be releasing an entire project this Fall that will give people further insight into an era of my life that I really want to share and I hope that people find some small connection.