KERA and the lesbians

Photo by Simone Niamani Thompson

Words can be many things. They’re endowed with a certain power and like the emotions they translate for us they can be rather unwieldy; which often results in usually more harm than good. For Kera Armendariz, unfiltered expression and the collateral that comes with it can be something of a double-edged sword. But as the bewitching singer/songwriter behind the band formerly known as Kera and the Lesbians (now KERA), they are no stranger to, nor attempt to shy away from expressing the more gaudy and visceral forms of emotion that informs their music. Ask anyone who’s seen them perform live and they’ll most likely describe the tangible, raw nature of their set.

It’s a level of emotional reveal that can at first seem almost awkward–not for Armendariz, but for the audience–because it feels so personal. It’s voyeuristic in essence, you almost feel like you’re intruding on this person because they’re openly crying onstage whilst singing to this grungy-folk waltz. Every part of their body is employed to express the overwhelming sentiments that rush forth when they’re singing. Like a mime whose lamentations have grown so powerful that they’ve given up their vow of silence, Armendariz contorts their eyes, cheeks, mouth, lips, arms, legs, every muscle at their disposal to decipher for us the passions that exist unexpressed between their hoarse croons.

There’s something dually cinematic and voraciously, hyper-realistic to Armendariz’s embodiment of the pain and ecstasy that gushes from their genre-screwing tunes. Which is probably why their short-film “Fall.Apart.” works as such a damn good format to accentuate the already kinetic feel of their songs. Released in two parts, the film tracks an emotional dramatization of the ending of a relationship Armendariz’s had, with their new Fall.Apart. EP working as a soundtrack.

Opening with “I’m Late,” the film’s first, rather exceptional scene sets the tone of the entire affair in utilizing Armendariz as this prop-centerpiece. One that their ex-partner idly moves around as they pack up their things, leaving Armendariz’s to stare blankly into the camera. The first part of the film follows our sad hero as they try to regain some semblance of control over their life. Shaving their head and shrugging on a leather jacket, Armendariz jumps on their motorcycle to drive through some empty Los Angeles hills roads, the tempo surging in percussive gallops as their vocals grow wearier. The first act ends with a crash that the second act picks up on in part two, showing Armendariz limp bloody and dazed as she dreams up images of their partner under thin bedsheets and riding that same motorcycle in sunnier days.


Photo:Simone Niamani Thompson

“Olive” opens part two, and is a song with just as many parts as the film it overlays. Through Armendariz’s murmurs–locked in the bittersweet memories of their ex–it’s clear that even their happy recollections are overlayed with a gloomy twinkle. We also get a name for their ex from a back shot of a varsity jersey: Angie. Despite knowing so little of our characters, it’s the quick, intimate peaks in their lives that create an almost knee-jerk reaction of emotional connection with them. One that is as much rooted in all the things we don’t know, as well as the simple, universal nature of our emotions.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FF78FF” class=”fistclass” size=”15″]As stunning as it is halting, “Fall.Apart.” as a film is the pertinent visualization of those emotional taboos we so often prefer to be hidden from sight. Armendariz, grappling with notions of identity and loss, is not content with allowing the stagnation that comes with ignoring such feelings. Instead, they dump it all in front of us with all the tender allure of a kiss on the cheek and the galvanizing intent of a kick in the ass.[/perfectpullquote]

In both their film and music, Armendariz expresses a need to reconcile the heartbreak of endings as unavoidable preludes to personal development.

And as far as directorial debuts go, “Fall.Apart.” is quite a tell towards the creative ambitions and potential of the singer/songwriter, as well as their devotion to going lengths to express such impressive feats of vulnerability in their art. It’s the kind of open and honest search that in forcing oneself to look inward, you push others to as well–and that kind of compassionate but urgent soul-searching is something so desperately needed right now.

“This was the first film I’ve ever directed and it showed me what I’m truly capable of it I just focus, and certain aspects of myself I’d like to let go in order to have meaningful relationships,” Armendariz said of creating the film. “I find it necessary to break apart in order to unlearn old habits and simply begin again. I’ll always lean on creativity as a tool for growth and healing.”

KERA will be performing at the Moroccan Lounge on April 12, which will include a special screening and live-scoring of the 3-part film by the band. Y La Bamba and guest DJ Lil Smiley from DUBLAB open. Tickets are still available here.

Watch part 2 of KERA’s short-film “Fall.Apart.”


Part 1 (if you have yet to watch it)