When dancer Silas Riener found himself in a mesh bodysuit painted in the likeness of his naked body, entangled with his similarly clad partner Rashaun Mitchell and lying on a platform painted to look like a jungle, with a stepladder bearing a cameraman suspended over them, he had a thought: “Okay, this is a new thing.”
Riener was in the midst of filming “Take It,” the new video that premieres today exclusively on W from music group-cum-artists’ collective L’Amour Bleu, directed by designer George Venson of the textile and wallpaper label Voutsa.
The video premiere comes on the heels of L’Amour Bleu’s debut full-length album, Please, which was released, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day, via the DIY label Static Recital and was filled with tales of romance, sensuality, and male nurses; “Take It” is the most pop-driven of the songs. “I’m obsessed with the band INXS,” said vocalist and guitarist Ryan Schaefer, formerly of Palms. “I kept jokingly saying, ‘Let’s do something that’s a little more INXS.’" Pause. "Not that this sounds anything like INXS."
Over the course of a champagne-fueled day last May, Venson, Silas & Rashaun, band members Schaefer, Matt Tong of Bloc Party, and E.A. Ireland, and the group’s art director Shane Ruth, who works under the name Baby, gathered at Venson’s Lower East Side pop-up shop for Voutsa. It was an organic meeting of friends as well as collaborators—Venson had previously designed a costume for Riener, and he was friends with several L’Amour Bleu band members—and they came ready to create mischief.
“Everyone was wearing silk,” Schaefer recalled, laughing.
Though the track itself is precise in its narrative, exploring the power dynamics that emerge out of the relationship between a woman and her male nurse, the video for "Take It" is more fungible. It takes place across several rooms, united by their visual impression and the music rather than a specific story, with Mitchell and Riener composing choreographies against different backdrops and using varying costumes.
In one, they curl up together, their black-and-white looks matching the backdrop and a landline phone shaped like lips on the floor, while in another, they do pelvic thrusts in hooded caftans against a white brick wall, a velvet rope suspended in front of them. Though Riener explained they did some prep work ahead of time, much of the video was improvised.
“The concept was informed by the fact that we had two male dancers who assumed the role of partners,” Venson said. “Throughout the video they’re in various sorts of relationships with each other.” The video also echoes L’Amour Bleu’s own fascination with modes and expressions of masculinity—particularly “masculine sensuality or sensibilities,” Ruth added.
The image of the male nurse, too, is one that has typically troubled traditional gender roles; personally, women are more often ascribed the role of caregiver and professionally, more often associated with nursing.
“It’s fascinating because it is very multi-dimensional,” Ruth said. “It’s just a natural subject matter that's fun to question. It’s smart to question it.”
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