Photo by Lindsay Rogers

Ottawa alt-country singer-songwriter Ommie Jane has just released a new video for her single “Key Lime Cherry Pie.” The song is a lighthearted interpretation of her struggles with seasonal depression, and the music video accentuates the comedic angle Ommie chose to run with.

The winter can be long, cold, and cruel for a lot of us—especially because sunlight is difficult to come by. When seasonal depression hits, it can sometimes take months to pull out from the darkness. The video begins with Ommie stuck inside, struggling to write music and play her keyboard and ending up hiding in her bed to cope.

“In comparison to where I was five years ago, I’m doing pretty good,” she says. “In spite of that, every single winter I do lose a huge chunk of myself. The last few years I’ve been able to build up a bit of momentum with my music career and networking. I can take advantage of it in the spring, and in the summer, in the fall—and even into the beginning of winter.”

“But with the lack of sunlight, my depressive symptoms and features become exaggerated which is largely due to seasonal affective disorder. It feels like the momentum I’ve gained stalls and even rolls back. I can do the bare minimum like eat, get dressed, and go to work. But it leaves very little room to be creative. When that continues over several months, I start losing my self-esteem, and my anxiety features spike, and dissociative features spike, and body dysmorphia rears its ugly little head.”

The video was created in collaboration with Lesley Marshall of MAVN, who took on on videography, direction, and editing for the project. Marshall is an intermedia artist and award-winning filmmaker, and has had music videos featured on Vice, Exclaim!, Brooklyn Vegan, among others.

“I wanted to make the video to be focused on what I knew what I’d be going through. We started shooting the video in November and even then I started struggling with everything I had to do for it. I’m glad I did it because as winter went on, I knew I’d never be able to put the music video out. Lesley [Marshall] 100% held up her end of the deal, but I was in a really dark space and I might have put it off it hadn’t been for the quarantine and return of the sun. I always know it’s going to happen, and I’m always scared because I don’t know how far I’m going to fall. But I always know that I’ll climb out of the crevasse at the end.”

While the subject matter that inspired the song and video are heavy, Ommie Jane concocted a brilliant way to represent overcoming the challenges. She brought on board Ottawa-based Drag King Master Cameron Eric Leon to co-star in the video, representing a magical caretaker who helps uplift and support her through her internal battles with seasonal depression.

“I have the utmost respect for [Cameron Eric Leon] as a human being, and as a performer,” gushed Ommie. “If you’ve ever seen them perform, it’s incredible. They have so much stage presence, charisma, sex appeal—they’ve got everything. But beyond that, Cameron is just one-in-a-million. One of the kindest, most dedicated, and most patient people I’ve ever met.”

“It’s always bothered me that I don’t think they get what’s due to them in the queer community. Generally, drag queens get the bulk of the media attention, which is changing now, I think, for the better. I’ve always wanted to give back to Cameron in a meaningful way because they’ve been giving back to the community for so long.”

ommie jane
Drag King Master Cameron Eric Leon and Ommie Jane

Cameron also played a symbolic role, as the queer community helped to bring Ommie back to a better place after suffering from mental health episodes.

“Time and time again I found solace, the way back to myself, and my identity in the queer community. In a sense, that is what is being represented by their character in the video. They’re caring for me, and showing me the way. It’s funny and silly, and that’s what you need sometimes—someone, or some people who are willing to hold space for you and show you beauty. And to remind you how beautiful life and friendship is. I don’t think I would have made it if I didn’t have the community, and people like Cam.”

Ultimately, Ommie Jane’s video strives to help remind others that they’re not alone. With the current state of social isolation and pressure of social media participation weighing heavily, it’s not easy to keep in touch with oneself. Artists, in particular, are being affected adversely from the policies of isolation due to COVID-19, and burnout is a real issue facing the artistic community.

“I can see artists burning out, trying to do live streams because they need the money—I can relate to that,” Ommie explains. “In the depth of my depression while unemployed, I performed on fumes and felt really bad about it. I worry about artists particularly because we tend to think we are people’s only means of inspiration.” If I had any advice, it would just be gentle with ourselves and everyone else. When we’re isolating it’s hard, because people are always fighting was on the internet. It takes a lot out of you to be in conflict. The best we can do in life is to try and be comfortable in our own silence. I’m not performing and trying to take this time to be reflective. I’m practicing music and not pressuring myself to be creative. I’m just trying to feel normal and human.”

Be sure to check out Ommie’s new video featuring Master Cameron Eric Leon below.