Thelma Plum drops new video, announces album and Paul McCartney collab
We’re premiering Thelma Plum’s new “Better In Blak” video — a celebration of identity, heritage and family — and announcing her debut album, which features Dave Le’Aupepe, Paul Kelly, and the iconic Paul McCartney.
Gamilaraay singer-songwriter Thelma Plum has a knack for turning tales of devastation into the sweetest pop. Take, for example, “Better In Blak,” the latest single from her upcoming debut record of the same name. “Better In Blak” is about being harassed and put down by people who wanted to deny Plum of her agency and identity as a Blak woman in conversations about race; on record, it’s another soaring, anthemic entry in her canon of smart, finely-tuned indie rock.
“Better In Blak” is, of course, one of the most overtly political songs Plum has released in her career thus far, directly addressing the way white supremacist culture attempts to weaken people of colour through erasing their identity. From its title (‘Blak’ is a term coined by First Nations artist Destiny Deacon as, in part, a form of self-determination) to the chant of “fuck that” in the song’s chorus, it pulls few punches ideologically.
The song’s video, premiering today on The FADER, conjures a set of images that sit perfectly with the themes Plum explores on “Better In Blak.” Directed by three-time collaborator Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, the video for “Better In Blak” features a cast of Indigenous women who are important parts of Plum’s life, including both her sisters. The clip, shot in a square aspect ratio, feels like a genuine love letter to Plum’s loved ones, as well as her heritage and identity. There’s something delightful about seeing her stare down the barrel of the camera, eyes steely, and deliver a line like “I look better in Blak;” it’s a simple, but deeply effective, clip.
“I worked with some amazing women to create this and it was great to have Indigenous women that I look up to (that I have for some time) involved in the video,” Plum tells The FADER via email. Notably, the shoot for “Better In Blak” was a special day for Plum for more reasons than one: it was the first time that she and her two sisters, who both feature in the clip, had been in the same room together.
“My sister was adopted when she was young,” Plum says. “We’ve all hung out individually but we all live in different cities, so this was the first time we were all in one room together and I will never forget how special that felt.”
Along with the release of the “Better In Blak” video comes the announcement of Plum’s debut album, also titled Better In Blak. Featuring its title track as well as previous singles “Clumsy Love” and “Not Angry Anymore,” Better In Blak is Plum’s first full body of work since 2014’s Monsters EP. Based on its lead singles, the record promises more hooky, heartfelt indie pop as well as some of Plum’s trademark lyrical bite.
"This album was created during a pretty difficult time in my life and these songs helped pull me out of that," Plum says of Better In Blak, "Some of them come from really dark places and it’s a bit scary having them out there. It makes feel very vulnerable, but it’s also kind of therapeutic at the same time."
Written and recorded over two years and three continents, Better In Blak is a long time in the making, and features three incredibly noteworthy collaborators: Gang of Youths’ Dave Le’Aupepe, Paul Kelly, and, most gobsmackingly, Sir Paul McCartney, who wrote guitar parts for album closer “Made For You” while visiting the studio Plum was recording at in New York. It’s an astonishing co-sign from one of the most important songwriters of all time — and, perhaps, a passing of the torch. Watch the video for “Better In Blak” below, and preorder Better In Blak here.