First Watch: Gwenno, 'Patriarchaeth' Is the Pipettes singer shattering her own image, an oppressive social system or both?

Gwenno, 'Patriarchaeth'


Gwenno Saunders is a broken woman in her latest video, "Patriarchaeth," but not in the ways you'd expect. The Pipettes singer and keyboardist, who performs electropop solo work under her first name, used digital and manual techniques to create the video with English artist Ian Watson. Gwenno told NPR

The video was made using a variety of lo-fi methods of manipulation including chewed-up VHS tapes and the randomised erasure of digital memory.

The end result is a bright, fragmented piece of visual art that matches "Patriarchaeth" both in technology and message. The song sounds digitized but fuzzy, like an old gaming system with dust in the console. For those that remember both dusty consoles and broken VHS tapes, these images and sounds will be immediately evocative. On top of that is Gwenno's smooth, light voice. It seems to breeze above the rest of the music, but is actually outlining (in her native Welsh) a deconstruction greater than any glitchy music or mirror image.

Gwenno wrote in an email that her aim with "Patriarchaeth" was to "express what sexism feels like for a woman living in a patriarchal society," particularly in a small community like Wales that "can at times fall into an even more conservative and narrow view of gender roles." The song's chorus translates to "Patriarchy / And your soul is under siege." Criticism of social oppression is a heavier message than video game music and light, poppy vocals might imply, but is illustrated perfectly by a video that uses destruction as the basis for new creation.