Emily Haines played the first chord of her latest release, “Legend of the White Horse,” on a brand new piano.
“There’s a sort of going myth among musicians that when you buy a new instrument, it’s kind of pre-loaded with one song,” Haines said on a recent phone interview with W Magazine.
The myth rang true for Haines; not only did write a promising number, she’s released a video to go along with it. The video begins in a scene reminiscing Little Red Riding Hood in a dark wood. A camera follows Haines, dressed in a red hoodie, as she walks from the forrest onto a main road. Cutting between scenes of a different version Haines, one dressed in a nightgown living in a fancy suburban home, the video chronicles two different lives led by the same person. The two each follows motions through journeys that ultimately collide. The red-hooded Haines traverses the outside world on a gloomy day while her counterpart goes about household tasks.
Haines told W that her song describes an escape from the “requirements of civilized life.” The intent, which her video tells its audience, is an acknowledgment that one life lived outside social boundaries is not as freeing as one lived within them. A glass-half-full perspective might’ve argued that a traditional lifestyle could actually more liberating than one lived on the road. However, Haines takes sadder approach to convey the communes of humanity despite its context. Two wildly different lives can yield similar results and feelings.
The suburban Haines hears a noise and grabs a bat. Laying up in wait, she eventually falls asleep as the outsider Haines enters the house with a knife. Waking up outside in a nightgown, Haines realizes she’s been expelled from her own home, unable to reenter. The video holds these two versions of life in tension throughout.
“Society at large, humanity at large, is still drawn downward to our worst instincts in so many places,” she explained. “Our worst instincts are, unfortunately, situated right next to our best instincts, and the things that make us genuine and authentic are situated next to our vices of greed and violence and narrow-mindedness and bias.”
Haines is best known for as the front woman of the 1998 Toronto group Metric. The video was shot in late August in a home just outside of Toronto, owned by the family of the director of photography.
Photography Credit: Raymon Flotat