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Interview

Hayley about her music videos: “Naked as hell in front of God and everyone”

From Easter Egg to horse bones, some elements of Petals for Armor‘s music videos are still unknown and Hayley Williams tells us about them.

Harper’s BAZAAR interviewed Hayley Williams about the first three music videos of Petals for Armor: Simmer, Leave It Alone and Cinnamon. She told some funny anecdotes about the set, Easter Egg that we can find in the videos and the meanings behind them.

Simmer was a rapid song, in terms of the pace of it, in terms of the feelings that were racing through my mind and I knew early on that I was running from something and toward something and I wasn’t sure what that was. When I was texting Warren [Fu, director of the music video] and Lindsey I was like: ‘I kinda would like to start off driving or running really fast and I’d go into a warehouse or something that looks abandoned and I come out covered in blood and I had all of this really graphic stuff that I wanted to see”, says Hayley. She’s a big fan of horror movies and wanted Simmer’s video to raise questions. Her biggest inspirations were Handmaid’s Tale and Bird Box, “and any movie where there’s vengeance and justice, taking back your own power”.

In Simmer‘s music video, Hayley runs away from something indefinite completely naked. “Naked as hell in front of God and everyone. There was no regard for what time it was because we had three music videos to shoot within three days. It’s grueling, it’s a lot of work to get the shot right and you are battling nature. When we shot Simmer and all of the nude scenes, where I was wearing nothing or next to nothing, it was 16 degrees”, says Hayley, pointing out that she was freezing. The set was closed every time she had to shoot a scene completely naked: if there were usually 40 people on the set, during those scenes there were only 5.

Towards the end of the video, Hayley is completely covered in red clay. Hayley says that when she was 29 years old she started having these visions of herself as heart and flowers were growing from her, a process that was very painful. “I saw it like I’ve tried to plant these seeds and now I’m just waiting to see what happens. A lot of times we’re taught that femininity is one thing, especially growing up when everything was just dualism, it’s either you’re a boy and you wear blue or you’re a girl and you’re frilly and you play with dolls. I couldn’t relate”, says Hayley. She wondered for a while who she was, whether she felt closer to her male friends or not, but she never found an answer until she turned 29 and realized that the concept of femininity is an own thing and may not reflect what people think it is.

Hayley also confesses that there’s an Easter Egg that nobody noticed in Simmer’s video, which is that while running she finds the skeleton of a dead horse that refers to the song “Dead Horse”.

“The house is in hindsight the main character of the entire thing”, says Hayley. The idea of discovering the bad guy and realizing that it’s Hayley belongs to an ecosystem where the good side and the bad side live together.

The interview continues with the video of Leave It Alone, and Hayley confesses that it was a lot of fun to create the look she has in the video. Ben Rittenhouse did all the special effects to change the shape of Hayley’s face, while Brian O’Connor finished the look by attaching petals to her. The final mood they wanted to create was a reminder of the world of flowers, with elements reminiscent of the paranormal.

The cocoon was created by taking a hammock and covering it with different webing and cottons. “It was so warm, when I shot the scenes where I was inside of it was so relieving because it was fuc*ing cold outside of it”, remembers Hayley. The plasma-like substance that is in the video is a chemically created substance that’s also in McDonald’s milkshakes, “and shouldn’t be okay with any of us”. The part of the video where her face is covered with this substance is her favorite part of the video, because she didn’t know exactly if we could see beyond that material and was afraid to open her eyes. But it was worth it.

All the scenes where Hayley dances out in the woods in a blue cape go backwards. The dance choreography was created by Tavares Wilson, who also did the choreography in Cinnamon. They did it on the spot, he was in front of Hayley and she was trying to copy his movements. The singer confesses that Tavares had just lost someone dear to him, and this project was the first after this event.

Hayley then goes on to analyze the Cinnamon‘s music video, for which they had planned to shoot in Los Angeles but then decided to shoot in the singer’s real home. The idea focuses on taking some parts of the house and making them alive, personifying them. “When I moved into this house it was decrepit, it was infested with bats, there were spiders everywhere. It was kinda in just a sh*ty state like I was as a human. We kind of grew together and worked on each other and Warren wanted to mimic that in the video and show how my relationship with my house became so sacred to me”, explains Hayley. Before she moved into this house, she was in a relationship that lasted a decade and didn’t live alone: she had to plan everything not only for her, but also for her partner. “I moved without anything, there was nothing here. I found myself in tiny rituals, like waking up in the morning making hot water with lemon and not getting dressed, walking around the house naked, being by myself and feeling super free. There was no audience”.

The most enigmatic scene in Cinnamon is the one where Hayley takes a bath and eats oysters. She explains that bathing is another ritual she’s created for herself. “This picture of me from the back, eating oysters, is meant to represents my sexuality and this idea of discovering that for yourself. It’s not about your relationships, it’s not about doing anything for anyone else, it’s about your own sensuality and desires. That was a loose representation of that”, explains Hayley, adding that she loves that scene because it makes absolutely no sense if you don’t have the context.