Irish Born and Berlin raised Wallis Bird has just released “What’s Wrong With Changing?”, the first single off her forthcoming album, Hands, due out on the 27th May 2022. We are thrilled today to have the first look at the video for the track. It was created by Joseph Wright of Grin & Bear Studios, Berlin. I first saw Wallis at the Mullum Music Festival back in 2017 and was blown away by her performance, and have kept a keen eye (and ear) out ever since. Hands will be Wallis’s seventh studio album
The track addresses the inevitability of change, and the necessity to roll with it. As Wallis explains: “The song is about the milestones of my life: living in London, getting to know other cultures as a young person, to Ireland breaking free from State and Church and voting in gay marriage in such a stark Catholic Country.”
It’s a cracking video. Endless costume changes, location changes, and a vibe and look that’s in sync with the message that life is full of changes. About the idea for the video, Wallis tells us:
The idea came to me in the dream-state right before I woke. I was visualising the song and I saw flashes, the same person in the same position but the background changes. Then I saw the person change. Sometimes their identity blended, sometimes they juxtaposed. After a while I realised that the person was me in multiple different identities.
I often find myself dressing up at home, some days a farmer, some days a sailor, some days a lush and I play with my identity for fun or to open up my mind, change things up, so the idea for the video began to write itself. Identity plays a huge role in the song. We can’t help what background, physicality, skin colour or what land we were born into but we can choose how we treat each other, how we learn. That to me is the making of the song: How you are not who you are. So I wanted to play with identity, surrounding, and keep it technically simplified- always the same scene set up in random locations.
The look was Martin Parr meets Almodovar, beauty in the ugly. The cuts move with the music so that the viewer can concentrate on the lyrics and feel safe with a predictive editing. The dance was an additional simple structure to bring some kind of red line (story) through the video. After the idea was set, production manager Adam Fitzsimons scouted videographers, locations, maps were drawn, production was set, cars, gear, makeup, was hired. We shot at night time the first night and daytime the 2nd day.
Creating the same scene, over and over again, in various positions wasn’t a walk in the park, as Wallis explains:
It was quite stressful, to be honest! We were shooting outdoors in very public places. Shots had to be guerilla moving from location to location at speed, changing clothes on the street, dancing like some idiot in broad daylight, people tutting at me, judging, honking, shouting, I was disrupting pavements and areas like a socially inept idiot, it was snowing, it was raining, it was hard work. I hoped it would be enjoyable but it was constantly frantic. The team were adorable hard-working people so we powered through together really well.
I love labour and certainly don’t mind being uncomfortable, especially if I get an idea that I think is going to be worth it. Having said that, I generally don’t like to draw attention to myself in public so it was brutally awkward for me. By the time I got to the last take on the second day at a heavy traffic crossroad I absolutely hated myself! It was worth it though!
Having shot in a variety of locations, the final question was, which was the one she preferred to shoot in.
Hansaplatz U-Bahn (underground Station) is an unusual area of upper and working-class architecture and people. I respect these kinds of places as they tell true stories. I was dressed in my work overalls in the littered streets, boarded windows with local drunks hanging around. That was when I felt most like myself. I feel safe with drunks and vagabonds, they have a romance be it tragic or comedic.
Wallis Bird header image credit: Tobias Ortmann