Earlier this week we caught up with actress and film maker, Mercedes Grower. She’s phenomenally well-connected to the web of creative people who we write about, and we’ll be bringing you more about the work that she’s doing in due course (including news of a really exciting project that includes lots TVO-linked folk!). Right now, however, we’ve been talking to her about her role directing the video for Psycho Delia‘s current single ‘The Ooo and the Eee’.
The promo video for The Ooo and the Eee is an eye-pleasing coupling of London bike ride-based psychedelics and Studio 54 performance glamour. Its formation is the result of a female-centric partnership between Psycho Delia‘s Dee Plume, director friend Mercedes Grower, DOP Shiraz Ksaiba and editor Pat Grimm. It provides the perfect cinematic indie art house backdrop to the song’s carefree folksy/punky/electronica sound.
The inspiration for the film was the song itself, an initial storyline from Dee, and an early idea that Mercedes had about seeing the world float by. Dee had recently been spending time cycling around the city, and Mercedes liked the idea of capturing the strange feeling of a solitary bike ride, and of something creeping up on you.
They didn’t have much filming equipment at their disposal so they had to improvise, using a camera attached to the handlebars of Dee’s bike, which focusd on her face, and a second camera attached to Mercedes’ old Mini. “It was hilarious! I was driving the Mini really slowly around Hackney Wick, with Dee looking like an amazing terrorist Olympic gymnast.” she laughs.
To create the interior sequences, Mercedes rigged up a projector to throw images of giant insects and landscapes onto Dee’s body. “I was telling her these weird stories while she was dancing to get different emotions from her.” Mercedes explains. And the approach worked: “In the arts it’s important that you trust the other person, in order to creatively exchange ideas.” She says.
Floating image projection is a technique Mercedes used to employ to create installations for parties when she lived in New York. This approach meant persuading Dee to get naked. It leads us to discuss the sexualisation of female singers in mainstream pop videos and the effect it’s having on young music fans (“the girls who just see these other girls gyrating” Mercedes laughs).
It’s something she gets irritated about, contrasting it with the musical role models who she admired when she was growing up (the likes of Blondie, Patti Smith and Kate Bush), who she distinguishes as having balls and something to say, without taking themselves too seriously. She’s also a fan of 90’s feminist punk band Bikini Kill, noting that Dee reminds her of the band’s singer, Kathleen Hanna.
I wonder if Mercedes would ever consider directing a video for one of today’s mainstream musicians?
She’s tickled by the idea: “I’d like to put some clothes on them, show them some Blondie or Patti Smith – artists with humour. Even though Dee is in a swimsuit in our video, it’s not done in that way,” Mercedes explains. “She’s climbing walls and doing tomboy things. It’s more sexy in fact, because it’s weird.”
To watch the video in full, take a look below:
Many thanks to Mercedes for taking the time to talk to The Velvet Onion.