A few weeks back, British indie rock band Glass Animals shared a rather personal Facebook post about the creative process behind their latest single, Agnes. Lead singer Dave described the song as “the most truthful, honest, and personal story [he has] ever written.”
The post felt like a confession, and the music video to illustrate the story feels even more intense. The band chose to film the video in a human centrifuge – a machine that tests the reactions and tolerance of pilots and astronauts to acceleration above those experienced in the Earth’s gravity. And they ran it 18 times…
“It’s like being slowly sat on by an elephant…”
Lead singer Dave, the main actor in the video, describes the foreign environment: “You sit in a small egg-like pod about the size of a horse which hangs off a 50-foot steel horizontal frame. It looks like something out of a Bond villain’s lair. It’s claustrophobic and uncomfortable and also incredibly hot.”
The video sees a vintage square ratio shot of the singer, face on, as he battles the elements in the song and in the atmosphere. He explains:
“Slowly the whole thing starts to rotate like a helicopter blade. Faster and faster until every part of you becomes crushed under the extreme gravity.
It’s like being slowly sat on by an elephant, or like your whole body being punched in slow motion. You have to flex every muscle and use every ounce of strength you have to keep going.
Breathing requires serious effort. Everything that once weighed 5 kilograms now weighs 50. It hurts in places you really didn’t know existed. Veins and capillaries burst under the pressure and bruising begins.”
This manifests in a choking performance of a song which isn’t difficult to believe is the singer’s “favorite song on the record, and the saddest song [he] will ever write.”
It’s rare that phenomena described in emotional indie ballads are manifested anywhere else than romcoms, but the musicians have here put themselves on the line with great technical, physical and emotional poignancy that gives a brave tribute to the tangible heartbreak in Agnes.
Dave continues then to explain the similarities in heartbreak and centrifugal pressure, in its destabilizing physical impact:
“The most striking thing is the way that the machine pulls on your heart. You can actually feel it struggling to beat and changing shape… flattening inside of your chest.
It’s similar to that horrible sinking, tugging heartache that comes only with complete and overwhelming sadness. And then you pass out.”
Somewhat reminiscent of the ambitious filmmaking of fellow indie band OK Go, Agnes feels even more impressive in tackling a topic we all know too well, but rarely see the physical effects of onscreen. You can watch the heartbreaking video here:
Originally published on Konbini