Spotlight: Vogue on Rising Singer Mereba

"Dawit and I wanted to capture the black elegance we've seen in our Ethiopian families throughout our lives," the rising Ethiopian-American singer Mereba tells Vogue about her new music video directed by Brooklyn-based Dawit N.M. "We incorporated these regal east African elements with colors and jewels." (Photo: Courtesy of Interscope Records)

Vogue

Rising Singer Mereba Serves Up Regal Beauty in Her New “Sandstorm” Music Video

Mereba has the kind of soft, hypnotizing vocals that can lull you into a meditative state no matter the subject. In “Sandstorm,” the second to last track on her self-produced debut album The Jungle is the Only Way Out, the rising Ethiopian-American singer laments the inevitable end of a relationship with deep—and hauntingly beautiful—introspection. “We were low, we were high, Jekyll, Hyde,” she coos in the opening lines of the slow groove breakup ballad, which also features a more tender side of her fellow Atlanta native, rapper J.I.D. “I let go of something that was comfortable in hopes of making space for something that was actually meant for me,” she explains of a longterm relationship that unraveled as she was finishing the album. “I’m a Virgo and we love really hard, but we ended up in this cycle, a lot like a sandstorm, that neither of us were happy in, so I jumped out of the eye of the storm.”

Tapping Brooklyn-based director Dawit N.M. to explore the song’s visual narrative, the music video illustrates the exquisite pain of an on-off relationship cycle. Inside a sprawling midcentury modern house in the West Hollywood hills, Mereba and her lover oscillate between silence and bursts of fleeting joy through a black and white filter. She only appears in vivid color during a series of interspersed close-up shots alongside J.I.D., her natural beauty radiating with dewy, strobed skin and a glossy chocolate brown lip, as well as washes of metallic ruby red shadow on the eyes to play off her crimson gem-encrusted neckpiece. “Dawit and I wanted to capture the black elegance we’ve seen in our Ethiopian families throughout our lives,” she explains of conceptualizing her beauty looks for the film. “We incorporated these regal east African elements with colors and jewels.”

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