Category: Music

Lola Kirke Challenges the Meaning of Desire in Her New Music Video

Lola Kirke puts the spotlight on women’s sexual desires—the seductive parts and the unpleasant parts—in the new video for her aptly titled single, “Sexy Song.” The concept may seem simple at first look, (it starts with just her in a nude dress with a black backdrop) but she tackles some complex ideas as the sequence progresses.

I think that understanding the core and the truth of women’s sexual desire is really tricky,” 27-year-old Kirke explains. “Is it something that’s just like a man’s? Is it totally different? Is it just like a man’s because men have told us exactly how it should be or what they would like it to be?” This single, then, is her “attempt at making something pop-y and fun out of those really big questions.

While singing to the camera, Kirke performs an eccentric choreography by her friend and dancer Elizabeth Sonenberg. The movements quickly alternate from erotic to jarring: she sucks her thumb, runs her hands through her hair, pulls on her face, puts a hand in her mouth, feels up her curves, sticks her finger up her nose, and more. Kirke even says her dancing “toes the line of sexy and grotesque.

That juxtaposition of extremes was intentional. “I wanted that duality of how a woman can be sexy, to really question what sexiness is, and how ugly desire can be and how sexy ugliness can be as well,” Kirke explains.

The Mara McKevitt-directed video comes at a fitting time, in #MeToo era, when women are reclaiming the power and narratives of their own bodies. But even as the climate appears to become more feminist and sex-positive, women’s sexual appetites still remain generally belittled or taboo. It’s “easier said than done,” says Kirke. “You’re going up against thousands of years of shame and puritanical ideology.

Kirke says “Sexy Song” is her most personal track on her upcoming debut album, Heart Head West, which drops August 10. “I’d never really heard women talk about wanting something that men didn’t want. I felt so lonely in the feeling of longing, I guess, and I didn’t want anyone to feel that way,” she says. The result is an alluring yet rebellious composition, featuring Kirke’s folk-inspired sound and her take on Gram Parsons’ Cosmic American genre.

Ahead, Kirke breaks down the meaning behind her new visuals, what to expect from her album, and her approach to self-care.

The “Sexy Song” visual concept was inspired by a screensaver Kirke discovered in a hotel room.
I was in a hotel room in Japan, and there was this weird screensaver of all these flowers dissolving into each other on the TV, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the most beautiful, erotic thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’ And I took a video of the screen and I sent it to my friend, Mara McKevitt, and I was like, ‘I think we should make a music video for my song that’s about this.’ And then she translated it into this other idea. She’s just one of the most sophisticated and profound thinkers, visually, that I know. It went through her brain and came out on the other side as this other visual language that she felt really excited about creating.

Parts of the video include iPhone clips and mirror selfies, which Kirke shot of herself at home, interspersed throughout the piece. Her director suggested the idea.
Mara was just like, ‘I think we need to see what you see when you look in your phone.’ I’m actually really, really glad I did it. There’s a whole new visual language that exists with the advent of the iPhone, and the whole, ‘flip your camera around.’ There’s a whole new way of female representation where we actually do represent ourselves in a certain way, but again, we’re representing ourselves as the male gaze would have us represent ourselves. You might say, ‘No, I just think I look beautiful this way,’ but your standard of beauty is created by something much older than you are, much more outdated.

The mirror selfie is so personal. You’re alerting the world, how you look in the mirror. That is crazy. To understand the way that a person thinks that they look beautiful is really interesting. That was the exciting part for me about including iPhone images.

Kirke says her album reflects what she was experiencing last year.
All of these songs are about all these different things that I was thinking and feeling, and felt needed some resolution. They’re about the things that I feel confused by, or hurt by and a lot of that has to do with self-esteem or family or sex or drinking or death. Those are the general concepts that I explore in the record.

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