Liz Cooper & The Stampede's new video for "Hey Man," premiered on XPN, is a kind of mini episode of The Twilight Zone that plays as a rock and roll video. The song, from Liz's forthcoming album Window Flowers was recorded at Welcome to 1979 studio in Nashville and showcases the rockier side of Cooper's rock and roots musical equation.
The video for "Hey Man" was directed by Anna Zorn, who, after seeing Liz and the band perform in Chicago, boldly approached the band to produce a video. Through e-mail and FaceTime, they collaborated on the concept and design for the video, which completely illuminates the song and its message of liberation.
The setting for the video takes place in a picture perfect suburban living room setting where everything — on the surface — seems to be in the right place. The viewer is taken inside the living room to a make-up party, hosted by the mom, played by Lindee Katdare, an artist, actor, producer, television host and Second City Training Center alum. Katdare was cast in the role by Zorn, because, as the director says, "Besides her being beyond perfect for this party, I knew I wanted to cast her because she had this deep desire to be taken seriously and considered for roles other than the perfect mom."
While the perfect mom greets her sharply dressed and styled friends at the door, she serves the drinks and lays out the make up in a meticulous manner. Meanwhile, upstairs in her daughter's bedroom, something completely different is about to happen. The daughter, marvelously played by 11-year-old Madysen Reilly in her first on-screen role, pops a cassette of "Hey Man" into her cassette player and proceeds to rock out and live out her rock and roll fantasy. Playing air guitar, lip-syncing into her hairbrush microphone and jumping around her room, the downstairs perfection comes completely unhinged as mom and her friends succumb to the music and the energy coming from the floor above. Someone's bra comes off, cakes are smashed, donuts are stuffed into mouths, and everyone proceeds to get wild. It's the ultimate twist to a rock and roll tale.
In an e-mail to World Cafe, Anna explained the inspiration for the song:
When I was a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Gwen Stefani. She was my first exposure to a female lead singer of a rock band. I used to make cassette mixtapes of "Spiderwebs" and "Don't Speak" and dance like a crazy person in my bedroom. Secondly, and perhaps much more importantly, I have a lot of mixed emotions and feelings about what it means and looks like to be a woman, especially as a female filmmaker.
I come from a background where I predominantly have worked in camera and grip/electrical, and it's a particular subgroup of production that is probably less than 5% female. While it's slowly beginning to change, that portion industry is still especially unfriendly to women. I've been hired as a camera assist and showed up and upon being seen asked to assist with craft services instead-- the ultimate equivalent of, 'you don't belong here, go to the kitchen and make me a sandwich.' I was the director of photography on a short film where we shot in the woods for several days, so I was naturally beyond sweaty and wore no makeup because I really couldn't. At the premiere all dressed up, a male actor in the film noted that he almost didn't recognize me because I looked so feminine.
This project manifested a huge amount of my frustration of the impossible duality women have to face, and especially after I spent some time talking with Liz one on one, we both loved the idea of taking that rage and giving it a big 'fuck you.' I incorporated Liz's personality a lot in the production design — from her childhood love of Wayne Gretzky to mismatched clothes and sports. The guitar I created is also a cardboard replica of the guitar she plays with now.
I created the "Pretty Girl" makeup line mostly as a troll to makeup products marketed to women-- the products have names like "cry-proof eyeliner" and in shades like "cheat day chocolate," so you can look good while crying and have a little chocolate even though you should really lose those two pounds.
Overall, the main message of the project is the world should really stop putting so much pressure on women to look and act a certain way. When girls can be liberate themselves from this unattainable cycle,it's pretty freaking awesome.
Window Flowers is out August 10 on Sleepyhead Records.