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.
Alice Merton broke through in 2018 with her breakthrough hit single "No Roots." The track topped Billboard's Alternative and Adult Alternative charts, and made her way as the first woman to land at No. 1 on the Rock Airplay chart since Lorde did it back in 2014. In a landscape loaded down with men's voices, Merton is a singular presence at the top of all those charts.
Now that she's grown her own international record label, Paper Plane Records Int., with her manager Paul Grauwinkel, Merton is readying to release her latest LP, MINT, on January 18. Ahead of it comes the single "Funny Business," whose video she conceived and directed.
Refinery29: Tell me about creating this video. Where was it shot and where did the concept come from?
Alice Merton: "I wrote the treatment and directed the video. We shot the whole video in Berlin. I love trying to take the atmosphere of Berlin and put it into videos. I wanted to have a little bit of the dreary atmosphere. Even the apartment, it's very typical with the beer bottles lying around and a mattress on the floor. I met a dancer, Nikita, from our last video whose aura I loved, as well as his personality and how he moved. He hadn't done any acting before, but I loved his dance moves and goofy nature. I didn't hire a choreographer, I asked him to think of three routines he could do for the verse and the chorus and the rest I ad-libbed with him. We experimented and saw what looked cool in different parts of Berlin that I had scouted with my cameraman."
What inspired you to step into the director's chair and craft this video?
"I wanted to be behind the camera this time. I wanted to write the storyline of a relationship where you see a couple and one of them, in this case it's the guy, has a wild night. While the woman is wondering where he went, he doesn't answer because he's having a good time with his friends. So she thinks that he did 'funny business,' that something went on or there was another girl. He is stuck in his world, chilled, dancing, and having a good time. When he makes his way to his girlfriend's house to apologize and bring her flowers, he opens the door and sees her with another man. I like the contrast between everyone thinking he was the one who cheated when at the end of the day, she did. These days, when you're talking about funny business or cheating, a lot of the time it's portrayed where the man is the bad one. But I wanted to flip that around and make it the woman doing funny business."
Are we supposed to feel disappointed for the protagonist at the end of the video?
"Disappointed? No, I don't want any disappointment. I want people to smile. I want people to look at it differently. In a lot of my songs, I like giving them a twist. They're often quite serious. Even with my first song, 'No Roots,' for me the lyrics were quite depressing at the time, if I'm completely honest. But I wanted to make sure it wasn't a depressing song. I wanted it to be a song that I felt good and free about every time I listened to it. I like doing the same thing with film, doing a thing where people don't expect it to turn out like it does."