BUMP THIS: aiko's "down"
The London-based musician explores the uncertainty of love on her newest single.
Aiko— a London-based, Moscow-born musician— strikes again with the release of the music video for her newest single, “Down.” Releasing under the project name “Aiko,” Alena Shirmanova began her music career after appearing on the Czech-Slovak Pop Idol series, SuperStar in 2015 and has continued to release music since, dropping her debut EP “AIKO” in 2018.
Directed by Sayna Fardaraghi, the video begins with the ringing of church bells as Aiko walks down a street, alone. Warm filtered and vivid, we follow her up a winding set of stairs, leading into a beautiful church filled with stained glass windows. Aiko’s voice begins to ring out:
Let’s just sit in silence
It doesn’t seem so loud when you’re your friend
And you can really hold your own hand and
places change, people grow
If nothing’s changing something’s wrong
We just all belong to a home
“Down” conveys a sense of loneliness and uncertainty - the craving to be alone, while simultaneously wondering where it is you fit in in the first place. Where is your home? To whom do you belong? Though Aiko’s single can seem laced with despair when glancing at the lyrics, Fardaraghi’s guidance on the video creates a feeling of comfort as an answer to the question of loneliness. Gold accents shine through on the church walls, and Aiko, clad in white, dances freely and openly, proud to be moving.
Aiko’s video relies on imagery connected to religion, as well as fine art from the Renaissance, with flashes of paintings appearing in rapid succession, finally alternating between shots of Aiko crying and the portrait of a holy woman weeping. Is this the loneliness finally appearing at its peak? Confusion grows, and the viewer may start to lose their sense of comfort. As the first chorus ends, Aiko’s dancing becomes more intense and erratic. The camera pans all over across the ceiling of the church; blinding lights hit and a dizzying sensation ensues.
Uh, I gotta slow down
I gotta find my role now dear
I gotta find myself in here
Aiko’s message begins to shine through fully; in a world where it is easy to feel displaced, one must confront the feelings of uncertainty they face to find the answer - to find their home. The interpretative dance serves as a catharsis, the final realization that you cannot live in uncertainty: you must decide. As Aiko thrashes through the church, more images of fine art appear, which Aiko imitates in particular shots.
Down down down
My train is leaving, eyes half-closed,
I must be dreaming, am I home?
My train is leaving,
I must be dreamin’
As the song begins to reach a close, the dancing decreases in intensity, the images slow, and a sense of peace is established. The catharsis has been worked out, and a look that could be defined as bliss takes over Aiko’s face. As she lays on the floor of the church, gold stars decorate the ceiling. Church bells ring out once again, mirroring the beginning. A sense of belonging has been found. The release of “Down” signals a new era in Aiko’s discography, publicizing the finding of a new identity. Aiko's previous releases all share an electronic, peppy sound that doesn't always match the power of her natural voice. "Down" emphasizes Aiko's vocal talent, utilizing more natural sounds and instruments in its backing track, evolving her music. Perhaps this is just the beginning for Aiko, marking the release of new sounds, new music, and fresh career. ✰
Sage Enderton is a Buffalo-based poet and artist, currently majoring in Creative Writing at Buffalo State College. She is a Sagittarius moon and a lover of oat milk lattes. Her work has been featured in Peach Magazine, super/natural, and other literary collectives. She can be found on Instagram at @skenderton.