The Swag of Alchemy: An interview with Say Lou Lou
Music — 10.03.23
Words: Brit Parks
Photography: Drew Escriva
She was a little near the gospel of rose mouths. Were Hendrix teeth on his guitar a bath of rosaries to the God we all know is taking the sea on a date to watch the wax of Helen of Troy’s candles eclipse Icarus? Is Dorian Gray cackling as he knows his reflection is love, the vulnerability of love endured? The swag of alchemy.
Say Lou Lou wrote an Odyssey, the Odyssey wrote them. They beset minor chisel crimes of jawlines skies envy. They are asking Hermes’ ghost why their mouths gape wide if only their teeth are listening. You could wax Vanessa Beecroft pasquinade cords strewn black heels. Exile is not a foreign tongue, that would mean our tongues are in a wet hedge maze. They are not confused. Their hushing visual blur is stricken by a face pressed against glass, disfigured. This falls to Ana Mendieta’s emotional log, a mutual junk out we both hold. We still wonder why writ large, we hesitate to say Carl Andre pushed her out a window. We are fair. We are egalitarian. His cold ordered stones on gallery floors are boring us to death with his guilt.
This created a very rebellious attitude in me until it sort of exploded inside me and I became aware of my own being, my own existence as a very particular and singular being.
Ana Mendieta, excerpt from an unpublished note, undated
Brit Parks: I am intrigued you made a kind of Odyssey with this video, as in different verses, different sonnets. I was curious if it was the song materialized and the video then began to follow suit.
Say Lou Lou: The making of it was a kind of Odyssey as well, the idea for the video came from the feeling we had when we wrote the song which was essentially not feeling loved, not feeling seen by your partner or the world. We first started with this concept of exercise bikes as an example of how self-improvement comes from this place of desperation and all the lengths you pursue to make yourself feel good as someone else isn’t making you feel that way. We started to think about these concepts around the idea of how we attempt to feel more desired.
When you are in that state you are going from one habit to another and you don’t realize how endless it becomes.
When you are in the moment of that kind of situation you don’t know. You are totally taken over by the desire and it’s very hard to have any kind of clarity or perspective. We wrote the song and video in retrospect, years later.
Her tale was done. Then bounteous Ceres yoked
Her pair of dragons to her chariot
And fixed the curbing bits and made her way
Between the earth and the sky to Pallas’ city
In the video, there are disparate commixed vignettes, I was curious about the moment your face suddenly pressed against the glass. I found it striking, I wasn’t expecting it, and it didn’t seem in the same momentum. Can you speak to the artistry behind the concept?
Zoe Chait, the Director, was very interested in the ‘life coach’ character as a representation of the story. She had several ideas of characters trapped inside themselves. Early on, I am cleaning the glass and then eventually I give up and just press my face against it. And I feel that is the moment when I have nothing left to lose. It’s the same with the ‘life coach,’ she’s enthusiastic and then just abandons it out of exhaustion.
I kept circling around ideas of exile, perhaps self-projection, but the scene in your bathroom, room, and kitchen. It feels different than being strictly lonely, it’s like being exiled from the person you are.
You can only express these concepts in retrospect because when you are in the situation, the main goal is still to get the love and get this attention in order to get a perfection you still think you can obtain. And once you fully let go of that and embrace the exile then you can catapult out of whatever that you are in and it leads you to a different path.
To avenge oh yes all the beaten
Laughing to cry because
your laughter dresses
Your daffodil breasts
You the cold one so fresh
How we would like to teach you
To only love
Wives of artists are written out of the stories of history. They aren’t on museum walls even when they are artists. That’s the connection back to what we wrote the song about. You can suppress energy but eventually, it does come cracking out and desires to come out. Defying disenchantment is not over-conceptualizing. I don’t feel embarrassed by saying I didn’t feel loved.
Your song conjured up alchemy for me and I wondered what the ingredients of your voices, the lyrics, and the video would be in a mythical sense.
The bottom notes are redemption, bitterness, and revenge. The middle is love, wisdom, and longing. The top is honesty, humor, and clarity. It’s alchemy as elements can be repulsive on their own but they combine to create a new mythical object. The ethereal longing comes with the desperation we tried to express with acoustic guitars and singing in harmony.
At the conclusion of the video in the swimming pool, it reminded me of ‘Lost in Translation,’ when she whispers something and you never know what it is, that’s how I felt at the end. It’s as if you regained power and there was an exchange though it assuredly blurs and fades with no conclusive ending.
It began with dust and ends with water. Trying to vacuum the desert and a swimming pool.
Impossibilities of fixing something you can’t fix.
Dusty like the house you live in
Sweep the floor all day when I’m feeling down
I can’t be here
Waiting for a boy
Say Lou Lou, Waiting for a Boy
Listen to Say Lou Lou’s new song, “Waiting for a Boy” below and stay up-to-date with new releases via Instagram.