Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's new home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
In "Close," a single from the upcoming EP of New Zealand-based artist So Below, intimacy is a frightening concept.
"You're close to the bone," the chorus sings. It's almost reproachful, a goth-pop cautionary tale. In the music video, which debuted today, waves wash over a beach at night while a single solitary strobe light illuminates the sand. There's some searching going on, maybe for intimacy, or maybe for the ability to be intimate.
For Madeline North, the woman behind So Below, this is meta. This is her first music video — she's filmed four in her career — where she's heavily featured. There's also not an overt narrative. This is simple visuals: just So Below, the waves, and the beach.
"There's not a lot of storyline, which I really like. I love simplicity," North tells me over the phone from Auckland, where she lives. "I guess I don't necessarily love a complicated storyline."
But a simple storyline meant a lot of facetime for North, who wasn't keen on seeing herself in her own video. "It's definitely out of my comfort zone to be that present. It's like, 'There's my face!'" she says, laughing. "A lot of shots I wanted to take out. I was like, 'Replace it with a shot of, uh, something else.'"
North, a SoundCloud synth-pop darling, likes to steer clear of commitment, at least when it comes to her image. Her stage name, she tells me, is the result of a brainstorming session during which she wrote down a few pages of names. "So Below" rhymed, so she picked it, though she admits she likes the "slightly ominous" connotation. Similarly, her genre on SoundCloud is "goth pop," a term North attributes to being facetious on the internet. She likes it now, though — it's a fitting match for her low-fi tone. One SoundCloud commenter described her sound as a "gothic Neil Diamond." I'd go in the opposite direction: She's a more plush, murkier Paramore.
"Close," she decided, was too upbeat for her brand. The dark images of the music video temper the slightly perkier beat.
"I kind of wanted to rein it back in with the video, making it slightly darker," she says. Still, she's not a dark person, she promises.
North explains, "At the end of the day, I'm just like, 'What would Trent Reznor do?'"
Watch the full music video for "Close," below.
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