The Collaborative is proud to premiere “Lolita” by Girl Blue, filmed by Chromoscope Pictures. The beating, poppy single that oozes with cool was released back in November 2018, but has been brought to life in a whole new light to take on the significance of not only living, but thriving, as a woman.

It’s a sweet and beautiful interpretation of a song that, sonically, already seems to reflect this sense of identity. Girl Blue’s vocals are sharp and intentional at points, the bass and drum supporting her focused delivery, surrounded in a soft, cloudy choruses. All of it a poignant drama following this larger-than-life character. It feels rosy in a real life way—blooming and full of thorns. Look don’t touch.

The everyday non-male experience seems rife with negatives. Harassment, inequality, objectification. But what would happen, the artist poses, if we were to focus only on the positive?

“I was thinking about the lyrics and sort of, what it’s like to grow up as a girl. Were there things that were inherently joyful? All I could think about were bad things or uncomfortable moments specifically related to being female. So it turned into me asking everybody to see what they say. It was interesting. Everybody had a really hard time with the question,” Arielle O’ Keefe, aka Girl Blue, says.

The video features several women and girls, singing along to “Lolita” after sharing their own take on a surprise question: “What is your favorite thing about being a woman?”

They react with surprise, amusement, even discomfort.

“I prefaced before I asked them, ‘Even ‘Lolita’ is about the struggles surrounding what it means to be a woman but we’re so attached to the struggles. Can we just think about the joy?’”

Several local creatives star in the video, including Jai Yoga School instructor and Albany Barn events coordinator Jammella Anderson, singer-songwriters Olivia Quillio and Talia Denis as well as Troy Dance Factory owner and choreographer Nadine Medina. “Lolita” captures the  individual energy and personality of each one, from the free-spirited interpretations of Quillio to the responsive intensity of Medina.

“For each one, the guys [of Chromoscope] set up the camera and I had them all leave the room so it was just me and the [subject],” O’ Keefe explains, chuckling. “For Olivia, I left the room and came back and she’s just braiding her hair and says, ‘Oh yeah, I got weird.’ That was the best part, everyone took it so differently.”

O’ Keefe says the project has also opened a floodgate of discussions branching from her original question, exploring the construct of “girl power” and personal empowerment. When are women encouraged to think positively about their life experience, their image, their spirit?

“If I had asked them, ‘What’s your favorite thing about women?’ it would be very different,” she points out. “It’s something I think is missing. Ourselves. All the stuff we’re seeing and thinking about, I don’t know if everyone is turning those things into themselves in such an intimate way all the time.”

Women are more likely to be asked about the state of oppression, over our bodies, over our attitude, over our confidence and sense of authority. O’ Keefe hopes “Lolita” will continue to spark more positive affirmation despite negative experiences.

“It also just keeps this conversation going further. Some days I still don’t know.”