Shayna Klee now invites you to her Purple Palace

The French-American multimedia artist creates a vibrant sonic realm of creativity, imagination and self-expression.
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Emily Whitchurch
Freelance writer and final year student at University College London. Email:

Painter, writer, videographer, sculptor, performer, musician: Shayna Klee—aka Purple Palace—is a genre-defying multimedia master, creating immersive, textured wonderlands of pastel hues and abstract shapes. Raised in Florida, but based in Paris, Klee has been documenting her artistic endeavors on YouTube since 2018 through whimsical yet unpretentious glimpses into her art studio and everyday life, alongside a generous dose of impactful advice for all things self-love and spirituality. Now, she is also emerging as a refreshingly candid, creative musician, establishing a carefree sound bursting with electronic experimentation and charming personality.

Klee’s latest single, “Fuck The Art World,” provides a scathing critique of the contemporary art world, accompanied by high-energy electric guitars and bouncy synths to create a sharp lyrical dissonance: something you can scream or dance to, perhaps simultaneously. A little bit pop and a little bit punk, the track carries the same political vehemence as Le Tigre, but with slightly more stripped-back instrumentals, allowing Klee’s smooth, expressive vocals to shine. The synth sounds are almost futuristic, reflecting her vision for an art world free from the sexism, elitism, and racism currently pervading it. “I’m sick of your glass houses and your boring stale white cubes,” she half-sings and half-speaks, lamenting the hypocrisy and monotony of mainstream modern art.

Pensive spoken word is incorporated across Klee’s growing discography, directly addressing listeners with palpable angst. In her fearlessly honest first single, “I Know Where You Live,” she walks the streets of Paris and confronts the feelings of bitterness, resentment, and heartache brought about by a disloyal partner, taunting “et puis je me souviens (and then I remember) / I know where you live / I know where you live.” These lyrics are repeated throughout the song, perhaps as a way for Klee to regain composure after a disappointing relationship; listeners might imagine her scribbling these lines in her diary, processing her pent-up emotions towards a former partner and reminding herself that she knows his address, she’s in control.

French vocals are scattered throughout her songs, seamlessly ebbing and flowing with English, bridging together two integral parts of Klee’s identity. After moving to Paris to pursue an MFA in Fine Art at the National School of Arts in Paris-Cergy, many of Klee’s YouTube subscribers journeyed with her as she explored, created, and apartment-hunted in Paris, until eventually gaining French nationality. Her American perspective adds a unique dimension to her videos: while she is settled there now, Klee was once an outsider in Paris, and retains her ability to romanticize the city without being naive to its pitfalls.

Klee also shares her music-making process on YouTube, dwindling the gap between artists and their listeners by offering an authentic look behind the scenes. In one vlog, she documents her time at a fish factory-turned-art residency in Iceland: striking mountain scenery, words of wisdom, and a glimpse into her live show rehearsals. Her videos are visually beautiful, with clips of Parisian sunshine, her eclectic apartment, and large, abstract sculptures and paintings bursting with vibrant colors. But what’s more beautiful is her ability to speak from the heart, sharing her thoughts on growth, healing, and love. In a recent video aptly titled “your fear of being seen is keeping you small,” Klee shares the importance of getting over the fear of being cringe or putting yourself out there—once you do, she believes, you can deepen your connections with the right people. “When people see you, that’s when they can really love you,” she explains. Even through a screen, she is utterly magnetic as she sits in front of the camera, casually adorned with glistening mint-green eyeshadow, and speaks from the heart. Indeed, perhaps Klee’s YouTube channel’s greatest strength is that it has both style and substance.

The same can certainly be said for her feisty yet heartfelt music. “Ami imaginaire” starts tenderly, with soft, ethereal harmonies creating a wistful tone as Klee reflects on growing apart from a former friend, lover, or family member. Translating to “imaginary friend,” her delicate vocals encapsulate the idea of someone slowly drifting away. However, thirty seconds in, we hear glass smash, and the pace quickens: dreamy harmonies remain, but are now paired with steady, thumping instrumentals. There is a sense of determination to work through these complex feelings of loss and alienation to move forward. In the second half of the track, the synth sounds grow increasingly frantic, with high-pitched vocals abruptly cutting out before ending with muffled silence. This could mimic Klee’s now-imaginary friend finally disappearing from her life, or reflect the peace after a release of pent-up emotion—perhaps even both. Regardless, the creative, experimental nature of Klee’s music invites us to be creative in our interpretations of it, resulting in a much more engaging, personal listening experience.

Listeners can embark on a longer journey of imagination in Klee’s 2023 EP, Tower Moments: a self-described “experimentation in pop, spoken word and dark fairytales,” named after the “tower moment” phrase often used in tarot readings to describe a period of disruption, upheaval, and change. Its six songs are at once silly and sincere, with raw lyricism and fun synths woven throughout; they perfectly encapsulate this feeling of metaphorical towers crumbling to make way for something new, from the loneliness acknowledged in “Houseplants” to the self-acceptance of “Sensitive Bitch.”

The songs’ music videos are equally liberating—Klee embraces colorful makeup, theatrical outfits, and funky greenscreens, fully immersing us in the joyful maximalism of Purple Palace. For “Sensitive Bitch,” Klee appears on-screen as Elphaba from Wicked (if Elphaba wore a mini dress and gogo boots) next to a decadent gingerbread house that possesses the same whimsical charm as much of Klee’s music and artworks. Across all mediums, she seems to infuse her work with an earnest sense of playfulness, even for heavier subject matters. “Fuck The Art World” is a brilliant example of this—in a video posted to her Instagram on its release day, Klee tapes her phone to the ceiling and dances around with her electric guitar and a gorilla mask while condemning the austere exclusivity of mainstream art.

Almost two years before releasing “Fuck The Art World”, Klee shared her thoughts about pursuing YouTube and Instagram despite this not being taken seriously by other artists, emphasizing the importance of “taking back your power.” This feels somewhat prophetic: now with an EP and new singles out, Klee is grasping her power with both hands, and it is exciting to see what else 2024 will bring for the musical chambers of her Purple Palace.

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