Natural Velvet, “Crash”

Nina Mashurova

“Crash” is the second single off of Natural Velvet‘s third release, She Is Me. The Baltimore-based shoegaze four-piece is known for loudness and intensity, weaponizing intimate pop hooks with dark tones, piling on distortion and overdrive to make instruments sound like they’re being pushed to their limit. “Crash” juxtaposes hoarse sultry vocals vocals with abrasive noise guitar that screeches, swerves, and hurtles along until it quite literally crashes into the song’s apex.

The video, directed by Nick Baldwin (Call Girl of Cthullu) and edited by Chris LaMartina, takes place within an anxious cocktail party scene. Less visceral than their last video (also shot by LaMartina), it’s nevertheless equally disquieting. Lead singer and bassist Corynne Ostermann is haunted by a doppelganger (played glowingly by Baltimore drag queen Klitorika Browne) as her band plays a show at an alienating party, calling up ideas of imposter syndrome and the permeability of gender performance.

Both the song and video were inspired by Mulholland Drive and Inauguration of the Pleasuredome and both explore feelings of replacement, identity, reality, authenticity, and gender performance.

She is Me, recorded and mixed by drummer Greg Hatem, is out September 11 on Friends Records.

We spoke to the band about the video:

Nick Baldwin and Chris LaMartina also worked on Call Girl of Cthulhu. What made you want to work with them? What draws you to using horror imagery to accompany your music?

Their brand of horror has this really cool humor to it, it’s a little bit campy while still being pretty punk rock. That’s sort of a cool balance that we try to achieve in our music as well. Tackling really big concepts but never taking it too seriously, still having fun.

How did y’all meet / decide to work with Klitorika Browne? What’s the drag scene in Baltimore like?

Klitorika is described as Baltimore’s handsomest drag queen, and we’re really glad to call her a friend. I first saw her perform at The Hippo, a weird gay bar here in Baltimore. She’s incredibly talented with her makeup, and just an all around really sweet person. Her entire house of drag, The House of Benetton, is extremely talented, but we went with Klitorika because her style is in the same sort of “camp-punk” genre, so it seemed like a really good fit.

I’m no expert on the drag scene in Baltimore, but from what I have seen, there’s tremendous talent. Because there’s no huge/obvious large venue gay bar in Baltimore, a lot of the national drag acts tend to skip it and just perform in DC, so there’s sort of an underground mentality, not too dissimilar from the music scene.

There’s a lot in here about femme identity and gender performance. Could you speak to that theme at all?

Corynne specifically as an artist is interested in femme identity and the performance of gender, far down the Judith Butlerian rabbit hole, albeit functioning within painting processes. These same processes apply to writing a song. What makes femininity in the public sphere read so “soft”? Can femininity be something that is aggressive? Where does femininity and performance lie, in regards to being an artist, both in and out of the public sphere? (“Bedroom politics” via riot grrrl, etc). We’re consistently thinking about these things, being femme identified and interacting with it/removed from it always.

How does that fit in with the video? I’m especially interested in the scenes where Corinne and Klitorika are interacting, dressed identically (I love the spooky doppelganger vibes!), juxtaposed with Corinne performing alongside the rest of the band in a suit.

For the concept of the video, we are inspired by David Lynch, Fellini, and obviously a host of other filmmakers. For “Crash”, we wanted the doppleganger effect heightened—Corynne’s character is meant to be consumed & replaced by someone who can create femininity to a deeper degree that she does (through Klitorika’s drag). She is, by extension, not the real woman at all—Klitorika is. Corynne in suit was originally supposed to be appear as a separate “character,” though, halfway through filming it was more like “yeah—same person=same character, basically.” The two Corynnes in the vid add nuance to the performance of gender, even on a cis-appearing body such as Corynne’s.

The doppelganger idea is also in the title of the album (“She Is Me”)—is this a running theme throughout?

The doppleganger idea is definately a present theme—and also, alliance with other women/feminine identified folks & as well (sisterhood), questions of identity through a sort of dialectic (here the dialectic is performed thru making a record). Like at what point does the femininity become aggressive? Can I identify with someone else/something else while remaining true to who I think I am? Who the hell even am I, if I am her? It’s total dysmorphia, and a loud one at that, and even a little generically existential, like “who am I? Why am I here? Why consciousness?”

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