In this Joey Frank-directed video for "Bad Magic," we see GEN F alum Weyes Blood, strolling the beaches of The Far Rockaways and The Hamptons in a long black cape. At one point, she skips a stone against a shoreline dotted with reeds, and then the camera goes flying, skimming the surface of the gigantic body of water before cutting to a bird's-eye-view shot of the singer from high up above, reduced to a barely perceptible speck of black. She seems very much alone in the world, which is just how she sounds on this winding, contemplative closer of her recent Mexican Summer debut, which strips things back to just an acoustic guitar and her emotive alto.
As it turns out, though, the folk singer isn't exactly unaccompanied; a little more than halfway in, there's a fourth-wall breaking moment when we find out where all the breath-taking tracking shots are coming from. "Bad Magic," it turns out, was shot with a drone, and seeing as we're pretty curious about the contraption's potential creative applications (see another drone-shot video we recently posted from London trio Real Lies), we couldn't resist the opportunity to call her up on tour and get the backstory. North American tourdates below.
What's the story behind this song? This song was recorded in my apartment in Brooklyn. It was the last song I recorded for the album, and it's kinda just the most raw, most confessional one. It's supposed to be extremely intimate, and I just recorded it in one take and didn't really think about trying to do it over or do it better. There's some vulnerability and a couple mistakes, and I just kept them in there because that's just what it is. It's just one moment, you know? I'd been drinking so much coffee that day, too.
What's it about? The concept of "Bad Magic" is something that is incredibly intoxicating and magical but ultimately bad for you. Like, relationships, like addiction, or different things that have that quality of completely putting you under their control and taking over your life and making you feel kinda bad—negative forces. But also overcoming that—getting carried away with something and realizing you've gone way too far and that you kinda have to start from scratch.
Who directed the video? Joey Frank. He's a conceptual artist. He's directed a couple things, but for the most part he's just like a strange painter, a conceptual artist. He works with Intercourse Magazine, which is the Pioneer Works publication. I'd been hanging out in Red Hook a lot, and we met a couple times, and we just artistically resonated with each other over time. He kinda came to me and said, "I wanna make this video." We actually made the video for a different song, and halfway through shooting, he said "No, 'Bad Magic' is the song!" So, we re-shot some of it, but we pretty much used the footage that was made for another video.
Why do you think the drone footage is a good match for this song? The song is so slow, and the drone footage is very hypnotic and slow. The rhythm of the ocean looks like how the song sounds. And also, when the drone becomes self-aware—I think it's a very jarring moment where you see the source of the machine that's creating the imagery. To me and Joey, that was kinda the whole point. Amidst all the beauty and the stereotypical sweeping beautiful shots, you all of a sudden see the robot that's creating that, which I think ties into the theme of the song: becoming self-aware and finding a new way, now that you've realized that you're on a runaway train that took you too far.
What are your thoughts on drones? They're incredibly fascinating. All my favorite footage in the video is with me and the drone. My favorite scene is where I let it go. With "Bad Magic," the connection the director made is the concept of technology as being bad magic. It's this thing that is totally, completely interwoven into all of our lives, and ultimately, its long-term effects are still kind of a mystery. I think it's become kinda clear that it might not be the healthiest thing for everybody. So that's another part of the "Bad Magic" theme: the technological aspect. But the drone itself was just beautiful—it's like a little helicopter. It is really trippy when you hear them, and then when you see them it's even more like, "Whoa, that exists now." It's pretty unregulated right now, which is exciting, because soon it'll probably become illegal—or you're gonna need, like, a permit. So we got to do some rogue drone action before it got too regulated.
1/10 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
1/11 Baltimore, MD - The Crown
1/13 Durham, NC - The Pinhook
1/14 Asheville, NC - Tiger Mountain
1/15 Columbus, OH - Bourbon Street
1/16 Chicago, IL - The Empty Bottle
1/17 Detroit, MI - UFO Factory
1/19 Toronto, ON, Canada - The Smiling Buddha
1/20 Montreal, QC, Canada - Le Divan Orange
1/21 Quebec City, QC - L'Agitée
1/22 Boston, MA - TT The Bears
1/24 Brooklyn, NY - Baby's All Right
1/26 San Diego, CA - The Hideout *
1/27 San Francisco, CA – Hemlock *!
1/31 Seattle, WA – Hollow Earth Radio *
2/1 Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios #
2/3 Oakland, CA - Leo's *
2/4 Santa Cruz, CA - The Crepe Place *
2/7 Los Angeles, CA - Jewel's *
* with Mary Lattimore
! with Meg Baird
# with Eternal Tapestry