Today, August 10, Alice Glass shares her first music video since leaving Crystal Castles in 2014. “Without Love” is a pop song cut through with icy synths and lyrics about being trapped in a toxic relationship, and its video is just as enrapturing and as dark. Directed by the legendary Floria Sigismondi, it shows Glass being tied down and engulfed by flowers in various surreal settings.
Sigismondi is perhaps best known for directing The Runaways — the 2010 Joan Jett biopic starring Kristen Stewart — but she’s also had a storied career in music videos. As well as working multiple times with Marilyn Manson and David Bowie in the ‘90s, she’s also behind memorable videos like Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter,” Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole,” and Katy Perry’s “E.T.” The larger-than-life, magically gothic landscapes she creates have a way of sticking in the mind, and “Without Love” is no different.
In an email exchange with The FADER, Sigismondi explained further how she and Glass came up with the concept behind their twisted collaboration.
What was the initial idea for this video, and how did it evolve?
[The initial idea was] Alice would perform in a garden. Because I like displacing objects, it became apparent to me that this beautiful, dangerous garden needed to be in unexpected places: a bedroom, an abandoned car, the bottom of an empty pool. The manipulation [is shown] in the bedroom. The car represents freedom, which she definitely does not have, as the car is buried in a flower bush, a rose pierced through her hand. At the end, she’s drawn deep into a womb-shaped pool where the flowers are waiting for her until they totally take her and transform her into something new.
What was it like working with Alice?
When we met we talked a lot about the images the music conjured up for me. She showed me a picture that she liked, of a woman standing in front of flowered wallpaper. It immediately brought images to my mind of three-dimensional flowers growing out of the wall. She had the concept based around being tortured in a beautiful garden as a metaphor for being in love in a painful relationship. The idea was born.
How would you describe the shoot?
It went super smoothly. It’s hard doing a one-day shoot. There is so much I want to accomplish, and racing against sunlight is always a challenge, but Alice and the crew were up for that challenge and we got everything we needed.
What was the core message of the song that you and Alice wanted to convey?
I like the idea of something beautiful and dark living simultaneously in the same place. "Without Love" has those themes. There are also themes of losing yourself, being told how to be, what to say (“tell me what to spit.”) The garden vines are a metaphor for this. The flowers, beautiful in pastel colors, are also the thing that is keeping her exactly where they want her. Like bondage, they wrap their tendrils tight around her body, making her incapable of free movement.
Were there any artists or images that influenced your vision for this video?
I was inspired by the works of ceramic artist Jessica Riva Cooper. She made a series called The Viral Series, which I thought depicted the idea of biology running amok on the human form. Super impactful work.
What about Alice, and the song, resonated with you and drew you to this project in the first place?
Alice is what drew me. I think she has such an angelic and powerful voice all at the same time. I’m drawn to when total opposites collide together. The beauty of giving yourself totally, even if it means being buried alive.