Take a quick glance at Ella Vos’ video for “Mother (Don’t Cry)” and you might think it looks like a high school senior prank; seated in an old hangar filled with scores of glasses filled to the brim April-fools-style, Vos remains immobile and keeps her cool.
For a little while, at least.
For Vos, music always employs is a visual component, and yet, she didn’t see the music video for “Mother (Don’t Cry)” coming — but when it did, she struck her feminist force down like lightning. Paired with her series of self-directed short films for the album, the video sums up the entire Ella Vos experience, which lands at Sonia in Cambridge this Saturday (March 10).
“I guess music is as much, if not more, a visual experience as it is auditory for me,” Vos tells Vanyaland.”When I met the director, Ania Catherine, we didn’t have any intention of creating a music video. But we started talking about my song “Mother (Don’t Cry)” — and about how we put feeling at peace versus feeling frustration, or anger, at different ends of the spectrum — and therefore see one as good and one as bad. But they actually coexist and depend on each other, especially in times of change. Neither are good nor bad one isn’t better than the other. Working through frustration brings you true peace.”
A swift, somehow graceful acknowledgement of the emotional categories women continue to be boxed into, Vos’ video for “Mother (Don’t Cry)” represents her entire debut opus Words I Never Said, an album highly influenced by her experience as a young mother. The calm chaos that ensues — flipping a table, ripping up some sheets, general thrashing — presents the singer’s commentary on how women are emotionally portrayed in our culture.
“I think women especially are incorrectly labeled as over-emotional, dramatic, or wild when they show these emotions and I think that’s unfair,” Vos adds. “When we came up with the concept of the video, the entire goal was to show being at peace in times of quiet, and being at peace in times of anger. Our three scenes were inspired by the performance artist Marina Abramovic — sitting drinking water, walking slowly, and lying on the floor. We filmed in a little bunker in East Los Angeles, and we didn’t play my song during the filming until the very last scene.”
The overall shoot, Vos says, was a psychological relief, and it shows in every angsty twist and turn of the video.
“It was a really cathartic experience,” she explains,” because I went through the motions for each shot until I was ready to stop, rather than being told ‘cut.’ I can’t think of any moment in my life where I was allowed to destroy my surroundings without being told to stop or calm down.”