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.
Sinead Harnett does thing at her own pace, in her own way. The British singer, whose parents are Irish and Thai, appeared on her first song in 2011. But, rather than rush to get product out, Harnett has slowly worked, with collaborators that include Disclosure and Rudimental, to find her sound. Her 2016 EP generated over 26 million streams, and she came to the U.S. to play her first shows last year. She's building a foundation, and doing it at the speed that suits her.
"Body," her latest, is one of those gorgeous, sensuous songs that slides nicely into a make out playlist. But, it's a song with a hidden backstory that doesn't quite mean what it seems to on the surface.
Refinery29 spoke to Harnett about writing the track with producer and co-writer GRADES (Tove Lo, Little Boots), using music as therapy after a breakup, and creating a vibe.
Refinery29: What inspired "Body?"
Sinead Harnett: "The real truth of this song is that I was actually quite hungover when I wrote it. The song came about because I was messing around with the idea of still having a relationship with this guy, but deep down I knew I couldn't. I sent back all of my ex's stuff in an Uber. I was really in the thick of the drama, and obviously that helped. The song was my way of being with him again, without actually being with him. Really, it was a goodbye song, but it sounds like I'm going back to him."
Why did you explore getting back together with him in the song, without putting in the fact that you didn't get back together?
"[T]he best songs write themselves. There's no planning, nothing strategic about how I write. It comes out, and I try to put it together as best as I can. At the time, I probably thought there might be a chance I would see him again, so that's probably why I didn't say it's not going to happen in the song. But after finishing it and realizing that we were so unhealthy for each other, I eventually viewed the song as a therapeutic way of toying with an idea. It wasn't like I definitely knew I wouldn't get back with him, but deep down I knew it was a bad idea."
Tell me about the concept for this video. What's the message we should take away from watching it?
"Well, this is my first studio performance based video. I normally have a bit of a story or narrative behind my music videos, but the thing about this song is that so much of the sensual charge of it is already there. I didn't want to spell it out so literally this time. There are parts of myself as an artist I haven't explored visually before, and this was a different look where I could paint another layer of the feeling attached to the scenario. When I'm wearing white, it symbolizes the purest part of the relationship, the part that was the reason why I didn't want to leave him. There are also two darker outfits that show the danger of the relationship. I have a dancer with me, and we painted the picture choreographically as well of being with that person you miss, who you're addicted to. What I'd like people to take away from it is seeing the artistic step up for me, video-wise, and to notice the different layers of the relationship through the different colors."
That's what appealed to me about your video, you get such a strong feeling from watching it even though it's a simple video. It's very emotional. Your confidence in it was also appealing, and I'm curious about what you did to get yourself there, both with self-confidence and being able to talk about this relationship and with expressing your sexuality.
"I'm very hands on when it comes to putting things together. I like to make a vision board and a mood board. It's for the director, but more for myself. One of the things that was really important to me was not to over sexualize this and for it to feel like an artistic statement that mirrors the idea of being back with your partner, physically, in a way that's quite beautiful. As soon as I stepped into those shoes and asked myself what I wanted to get across artistically, the confidence came. I was telling a story and it wasn't about trying to be sexy. It was more about revealing the truth of what its like when it's hard to leave something."