The new Helium Queens video isn't just a neon-bright example of the Dallas band's dreamy vibe. It also provides an intimate glimpse into the group's psyche. In particular, the mental inner workings belonging to Poppy Xander could be described as a vivid, complex, enchanting, bizarre and galactic tapestry of ideas.
Xander, along with fellow band members Sharla Franklin and Chelsey Danielle, stretch the boundaries of audiences' imaginations. All three musicians have several musical side projects, but Helium Queens provides a unique platform for a full range of abstract futurism, their preferred time zone.
The story behind their latest single and video, for "Starre Lux Nectaris," is part of an ambitious agenda that extends past Spotify streams and YouTube views. The Helium Queens have slowly been unveiling pieces of a prophetic story written primarily by Xander. "Starre Lux Nectaris" is the name of both the song and character featured in the video, which was shot at Xander's home in Carrollton. It's the latest in a series of visual releases slated for their upcoming album Helium Queens: A Space Opera.
On the third day of shooting the DIY video production, Xander sits in her kitchen, in a serene neighborhood comprising several homes packed tightly on a narrow, winding street by a lake, a space that lends itself to creativeness and clarity.
"I think about moving to Dallas or moving somewhere else, and I'm like, 'I could retire here, you know,'" says Xander during a break from shooting. "It's like a retirement community. I'd say it's about half elderly people. I go on a lot of walks down there around the lake and I meditate."
The single's title, "Starre Lux Nectaris," came up early on, back on the same road trip that sparked the idea for Helium Queens. "We played a gig at a Pagan festival ... driving back I was like, 'We need to have something completely different,'" Xander recalls. "I don't know what happened but I started getting these ideas overnight, and we were trying to figure out what to name it, and I came up with Helium Queens really fast."
The band's name is rooted in sci-fi legends. "The idea of Helium Queens is that they are from part of the moon that has been taken over by women, which means something different than it would today because it's set in the far, far future when Earth is pretty much fucked at that point," Xander says. "They can time travel, and she (Starre Lux Nectaris) can particularly go through alternate dimensions really quickly, and so that's what's going on (in the video)."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Xander says the three Helium Queens characters use crystals that allow them to time travel. For the purpose of the video, those crystals are represented by "Shamstones" designed by local artist Shamsy Roomiani. The video depicts Franklin's character traveling through various dimensions, exploring and indulging in a variety of pleasing objects she finds along the way. Xander's ultimate goal for the Helium Queens story is to produce a theatrical musical performed onstage. The mythology she's scripted includes several plots and subplots intended for multiple mediums.
The dense layers of sound in the song match perfectly with the neon, pastel tones used in the video. There's a kinship between the music and visuals, an intentional replica of one another that isn't always easy to achieve. The harmonic falsetto vocals combined with a cleverly orchestrated mix of electronic and live instruments create a sound that genuinely feels, as the album name indicates, like a space opera. One thing that was clear from the video's production is that being the main character in a Poppy Xander-based visual concept is not an easy task. Franklin endured several takes, stress positions and having to eat an unhealthy amount of pink cotton candy. But most apparent was the mutual dedication to the vision they've mapped out for their group.
Watch the video below: