Nicole Atkins is a dreamer, though sometimes those dreams are a bit nightmarish. Take "Who Killed the Moonlight?" the song that opens her third and most adventurous album, Slow Phaser. She recorded the album in Sweden with producer Tore Johannson, whose work with The Cardigans or perhaps Franz Ferdinand you may have heard. Listen to the very opening of this song. The cavernous sound, the layered voices are simply haunting. They set the tone for the tale that's about to unfold.
Nicole Atkins worked with Johannson years ago on her debut album, Neptune City, and when they met again she had this melody, but no words. She told us in an email that "Tore remembered that I had super vivid dreams every night in 2006 while recording Neptune and asked if I was still having them. I recalled that a week before I had an intense dream that I wrote down and planned to save for a short film idea. I called it 'sisters of the dying moon.'"
"In the dream I lived next door to four magical and beautiful Sicilian sisters," she writes. "They were preparing me for a wedding. As the night fell we went to the riverside to toast the new full moon with wine. As we toasted the moon slowly fell from the sky and landed in the river. Slowly flickering off and on like a light and dying. As it died, all the fish died, then the birds, then the air and everything with it. Yet [though] it was sad or scary, it was beautiful."
The song's music video is that short film idea realized. Nicole Atkins had Romanian-born, German-based animator Ilinca Hopfner tell the tale and the brilliant result is what you see.
For Atkins, a real life event that occurred after work on the video began made things even creepier. "[It] was the week of the Blood Moon," she writes. "On the evening of that rare full moon, 800,000 bunker fish died in the river by my house. Freaaaaaky!!!!"
Though maybe not so freaky for a woman who was born in a town called Neptune and grew up in Shark River Hills. Just sayin'.