Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29’s 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.
If you’ve seen CYN, either live or in her music videos, before, then you know she is way outside of her comfort zone in her latest video, “Terrible Idea.” She stripped down, both visually, aesthetically, and in terms of her beauty look, to explore a new, more authentic aspect of herself.
“I realized how lyrically personal the song’s storytelling is. I wanted to bring the intimacy forward,” director Quinn Wilson, also the visionary behind Lizzo’s latest video, “Juice,” tells Refinery29. “I think that comes across most in the hyper-close-ups of CYN and between moments of her touching the lens.”
For CYN, she knew the video had to be just her, and not a character or a charade, because the source material was so personal.
Ahead, CYN tells us about the moment that inspired “Terrible Idea,” getting use to not having a selfie cam on the shoot, and how she came to love her curly hair.
Refinery29: The video for this song is so intimate. It’s just you and the camera. Why did you feel that was a good fit for this song?
CYN: “I collaborated with the director, Quinn, on this one. The foundation of the video was her idea and I added little things, but she wanted to focus on me in a raw way. Since the song comes from my experience, showing me in a more natural light makes sense. In this video, I wanted to show something authentic of myself. It was hard on this shoot because the camera is just like a black hole. At first I was jittery, but after awhile it can feel the opposite of personal. But, all my friends on set helped me feel comfortable.
“One thing I noticed is that I responded differently to the camera on set than I do my phone when I use it as a selfie cam, because I can’t see what I’m doing. Sometimes I felt like, ‘I’m lifting my chin up too high,’ or asked ‘Why did I just do that?’ I realized it’s because I didn’t have a selfie cam I could see. Maybe in the future I’ll get a monitor, but what if I just look at it the whole time? [Laughs.] We’re the selfie generation! Everything is something we share online. Without the camera, who knows where to put your shoulder?”
I know exactly what you mean! You also rock those Russian Doll curly bangs that we’re all obsessed with in the video.
“I didn’t have anything done to my hair, it was just dried. As a woman who has always battled against her natural hair, that’s an accomplishment! I’m on the same wavelength — I started wearing my bangs curly and looking around, I realized so was everybody else. I’m happy to see that everyone is on the natural hair wave. Thinking back, I wanted to be that girl in school with straight blonde hair. Being on set, with no one touching my hair — or being allowed to touch my hair — was a great feeling.”
What inspired “Terrible Things”? What does it mean to you?
“All my music starts with real experiences. I started dating this guy and he knew that I like the idea of ending up with someone. It’s kind of boring, but I get excited about the idea of living with someone. We had only been dating for two or three weeks and he said to me, ‘I think we should live together.’ All of the alarms in my head went off, but whether or not it’s a good side of me, I felt a smile forming. He knew that about me and he was messing with me. And I loved what he was saying, even though it was a terrible idea. It got my heart rate up, but I knew I wouldn’t go through with it — but I like the idea of traditional things like that, that couples do.
“Production-wise, the guitars and new energy in the song come from doing some live shows. I want to be up there with a band who can support me. I love the camaraderie.”
You had another collaborator on camera — Chanel helped with the beauty look, right?
“Yeah, that relationship started last year around this time. It was lovely to collaborate with a brand that is confident and feminine. I almost felt like Pat Benatar, who was so strong and confident in her presence on a track that wasn’t girly. I feel like Chanel uplifts strong, feminine figures without adhering to a certain type of femininity. It’s cool for them to be a part of this song and I think it shows more sophistication for their brand to get behind someone who isn’t necessarily the biggest yet. Their support for women who are authentic is meaningful for the girls who see it. In this video, I’m not playing a character — I’m being who I am. I’m thankful to them for supporting it.”
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