Today is the 4th of July – Independence Day in the USA – and a very appropriate day to premiere the video for ‘Mother of Exiles’, the latest single by Natalie D-Napoleon, an artist who lives between the west coast of Australia- Fremantle, WA – and the west coast of the US, and who is a dual citizen of both countries.
The track appears on D-Napoleon’s most recent album, You Wanted To Be The Shore But Instead You Were The Sea. Its creation was sparked during a songwriting workshop which D-Napoleon attended in Taos, New Mexico, with Eliza Gilkyson, Mary Gauthier, and Gretchen Peters. Gilkyson gave the writers a challenge: take the sonnet ‘The New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus, which is famously at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, and write a song in an hour. In that time D-Napoleon wrote the foundations for ‘Mother of Exiles’, and for something else: after ten years of living and performing in the United States, that creative challenge also cemented her desire to become an American citizen.
The lyrics of the song are inspired not only by her own experiences, however, as D-Napoleon’s family emigrated from Croatia to Australia between the world wars. She therefore has an intrinsic understanding of the motivations and inspirations of migrants, and what happens during and after the process. This is why the song so clearly comes from a deep place, which can be heard in the way D-Napoleon delivers the song. ‘Mother of Exiles’ is a cri de coeur and also full of hope.
The video was made by Brett Leigh Dicks and opens with stunning footage of D-Napoleon’s adopted home to give us the context for the song’s story before focusing on the artist herself, reminding us that while we may tend to think of migration in the abstract – ‘people’ leaving one country for another – it is individuals who undertake what is, so often, a brave journey full of unknowns.
You Wanted To Be The Shore But Instead You Were The Sea is out now.