M. Ward singing with himself in the “Violets for Your Furs” video

If you’re experiencing the same pandemic as I am, odds are you’ve had your fair share of sleepless nights and dreams where you replay your ceaseless indoor routine. In the new music video for M. Ward’s “Violets for Your Furs,” directed by local photographer Holly Andres, the Portland singer-songwriter taps into that spirit as he drifts through the halls of a ’50s-era home.

“We were thinking about the moment we’re living in, this repetition of waking up and being in this dream-like state, this period of uncertainty and not really being propelled forward,” says Andres, who made her directorial debut with the video. (It was shot by local videographer Greg Schmitt.)

Last December, M. Ward released Think of Spring, a collection of reimagined Billie Holiday covers from her 1958 album Lady in Satin. Andres photographed Think of Spring’s lonely, blue Christmas album art, and now she and Ward have reunited to expand the record’s visual vocabulary. 

Imagining an (even more) subdued and muted version of “Violets for Your Furs,” M. Ward skips the song’s initial refrain and jumps straight into the haunting next verse: “The snow drifted on the flowers / And melted where they lay.” In the accompanying clip, he lays suited, coffin-posed on a bed (a nod to Andy Warhol’s Sleep) as an apparition of himself rises and departs from his motionless body. Guided by a gently-plucked guitar—another departure from Holiday’s swanky string ensemble—he roams the halls and various rooms of the time-capsuled home. The house is Andres’s own Southeast Portland home, which was staged with her own photographs, paintings, figurines, fish, and cat.

The whole production is a work of Lynchian surrealism, Andres says, and it culminates with a blue-toned shot of M. Ward performing an intimate couch duet with himself. Several frames reference the experimental short film Meshes in the Afternoon. “[M. Ward] very much wanted to make an art experiment rather than a music video,” Andres says. “[He] doesn’t like music videos in the way that we know them. He wanted something that required a more active experience from the viewers, something that wasn’t glitzy, over-choreographed, or polished.”

Andres says there aren’t any current plans to shoot further videos for the album, but she’s confident that “Violets for Your Furs” won’t be the last Andres-Ward creation. “I think we both recognize that there’s a good collaborative dynamic between us,” she says, teasing future projects. 

Experience the full video above, and look out for more film work from Andres—she’s hoping to expand her cinematic CV and direct some short films in the near future.

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