American singer-songwriter Torres (née Mackenzie Scott) has just released a new single from her upcoming 3rd LP Three Futures, along with an accompanying music video.
The track, “Helen in the Woods,” is a finalized version of a song that has been approximately five years in the works. Most of Three Futures was written in one sustained period after the release of her critically adored 2015 sophomore record Sprinter, but this new single is the outlier.
The song, first put on paper during Scott’s college years, was originally an acoustic track, “loosely based” on a friend’s experiences with a stalker, but inverted: A really scary man is the stereotypical stalker story, but in this case it was flipped and it was a woman,” Scott explained. Gender can often inform what constitutes a stalker, and what pushes an obsession over the top—a woman’s obsession will more often be pathologized and a man’s, romanticized.
As a consequence of reversing the typical stalker narrative, Scott made a video that pushes against those norms: “I wanted to write a song about obsession; there’s that fine line between innocent obsession and then, you know, stalker territory, which I’m kind of constantly flirting with in my own life.”
The video, directed by friend and former collaborator Ashley Conner, was filmed in Highlands, North Carolina, and captures a distinctly direct and deranged atmosphere. Scott appears alone throughout the video, flitting across several different rural settings while maintaining the same manic expression on her face.
The somewhat Lynchian video captures the vibe of the song perfectly. Though “Helen in the Woods” is no longer the folk song it originally was, it grew to an even crazier high: “You know, if I just wrote a really sick guitar lick over the top, just made it really maniacal,” she said, “this would make a lot of sense.”
“This record, it’s a record about the body and it’s a record about movement, and in many ways it’s a record about desire and lust and obsession,” Scott said. Corporeal themes emerged as soon as she began writing, borne in part of a desire to take better care of her own body—but also, maybe more importantly, of “reaching a new place in life where I’m no longer ashamed of just being a sexual being and a sensual being and feeling like I don’t have to keep a veil over my sexual self,” she said. “These are, I suppose, parts of living I didn’t realize I had access to as I was growing up.”
Check out the video for “Helen in the Woods” below.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna