Arrow de Wilde in Keaton Henson's "Lying to You" video.
Photo: Oak Ten Records
We all love vids featuring our favorite superstars frolicking around in killer outfits. But, sometimes, there are those rare music videos that tell the story of the music, don't feature the artist at all, and yet somehow weave their way deep into our hearts. Keaton Henson's video for his new song "Lying to You" is in that category. Not only is it directed by photographer Autumn de Wilde, who has shot some of the most iconic figures in music history and, last time we checked in her, was shooting stylist Shirley Kurata in the raddest of outfits on House of Style, it features her teenage daughter Arrow in the main role. It's a simple yet beautiful video, and we guarantee it will make you want to freshen up your jean jacket game with—we kid you not—a tampon pin. MTV Style spoke to de Wilde about her adolescent inspiration for the video and the enduring power of badass teen girls.
MTV Style: How did you and Keaton Henson decide to work together?
I was asked to write a treatment for the song, which I loved instantly. I drew some pictures and typed him a letter about all of the things I wished we could do. I had really expensive ideas—fantasy videos that would be impossible to do. We got on the phone and came up with an idea together that was feasible.
What about the song made you want to choose a teen girl as the main character?
I'm obsessed with adolescence and teen movies—the transition moment from being very awkward to becoming a man or a young lady. So I think I tend to have a lot of ideas involving teenagers.
And the lead character in the video is actually your daughter, Arrow…
Yes, it became clear that she was the perfect person to do it. [Keaton] also really liked the idea. I photograph Arrow a lot and post photos of her. She's a muse as well as my daughter! I think because the song is about a very grown up situation, between a man and a woman, I liked the idea of the person [lip synching] the song being someone who could never understand the situation but could understand the melancholy like all teenagers do.
What was working with her like?
Whenever I work with teenagers or children, I like to see what they have first. I don't like having to manipulate them too much. With sad songs their instincts are pretty right on. There's a darkness to adolescence that we all remember. I think it's harder for us to remember what happened five years ago than every single person who hurt our feelings when we were thirteen. Her first performance was exactly the right direction, so I only had to coach her along the way.
I loved the photos you took of Arrow for the Paper magazine spread on Weetzie Bat, one of the best YA novels ever written about Los Angeles. Why do you enjoy shooting photos and making videos in LA?
I love that book so much, too, it's such a love story to Los Angeles. I grew up in LA, and when you grow up here, Hollywood is a different beast. To roam through these areas that are so weirdly dysfunctional like Hollywood Boulevard—you have your own romance with freedom and wandering around with your friends when you're young.
There was so much color and whimsy from the jean jacket against that backdrop. It was almost as if it was a character.
It was an important character for me. It's my daughter's jacket, the pins that she has on there are some she made and some she bought at thrift stores. Her friend, Eva Chambers, made the tampon pin that I think is so brilliant. It's interesting right now that teenage girls—or the ones I've come into contact with—aren't ashamed, afraid, or embarrassed about their period. It's something I do see that's changing in girls. Just the fact that she would take a tampon and dip in red paint and glitter and put a pin on it is so genius to me. I wanted it to be featured. It's cool.
A still from Keaton Henson's "Lying To You" video directed by Autumn de Wilde.
Photo: Oak Ten Records
Were all of the clothes her own?
We went out looking for a dress, specifically that kind of dress. Keaton and I were talking about the combination of being girly and badass. Ashley Furnival styled it, and she's really good at finding ways to show contradictions and transitions in character. We also didn't want fashion to overwhelm the story, which is important. I'm involved and obsessed with fashion, but I like there being things to discover instead of it being more important than the character. We started with her jacket because we couldn't get more real than that for Arrow's personality.
The first time I watched the video, it made me kind of teary. There's a loneliness there.
Keaton and I both wanted there to be just enough information left out that your own feelings could be transferred to it. It's why there isn't really an ending. I also love his lyrics so much. I think he's just as much of a poet as he is a songwriter.
What advice would you give to those interested in directing or photography?
I think it's important to photograph your friends and family because it teaches you how to build trust with your subject. I had such a strange road getting here, but all of it has informed my abilities. Plus hard work. I think there are a lot of people starting at their phone a lot or looking at the world through the phone. Make sure you're actually taking a look at the world around you.
+ WATCH KEATON HENSON 'LYING TO YOU'