Queer afro-latinx songstress Nicotine (real name: Brianna Zepeda) is an unflinching songwriter who expresses stories through her insightful observations and sheer vulnerability. The Houston born and raised R&B artist has now released her debut visuals for her stunning track, “Running.” The track appeared on her An Open Letter EP released earlier this year.
“Running” is a poignant endeavor as Nicotine pilots through the workings of life’s unknown obstacles that seemingly come out of nowhere. Coalescing the richness of R&B inflections with the delicacies of neo-soul, complexities of jazz, and dreaminess of indie hip-hop, “Running” is a stunning composition of warmth and tranquility. The song carries a certain type of spiritual glow allowing for light to shine through in places that have been dark for way too long. Still, beneath these sharp sonic currents is a lyrically raw, stark, and striking portrait of life on the run—the kind of life you didn’t sign up for as you look to find a new home—wherever that may be today.
The “Running” music video was directed by Mexican-American director Leo Aguirre and follows Nicotine contemplating life through a series of locations in her hometown. From motels to the open fields, the arresting visuals depict the adversities one may face while trying to make sense of who they were, who they are, and who they’re supposed to become. The short, which is shot like a coming-of-age indie film, is the ideal companion piece to the song’s ruminating themes of life’s perplexing variables and unforeseeable outcomes.
Catching up with Nicotine, she informed EARMILK this about her music video, “When I first wrote this song, I was 18 and *I felt* all alone in the world. I had no money, no plans, and no fucking idea what I was doing, but I knew that I had to get the fuck out of where I was so I could chase my dreams. Today I stand at 23, with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. There are no words to describe how it feels to know so many people relate to and accept my story for what it is. I hope that they enjoy this final chapter of it. This video is my goodbye to that era. I’ll catch ya’ll in the next one. With love, Nic."
Nicotine’s An Open Letter EP is out now via Counter Culture Records.