The Last Thing on My Mind was written and recorded in the summer of 2014 at our studio, the Red Brick, just outside of Mold in north Wales. It has the feel and sentiment of a lot of the tracks on our new album. It talks about feeling alive, being free. This track, in particular, touches on sexual liberation; specifically, it’s about a woman’s carnal imagination.
We’re big on making our own music videos, so last month we started collecting footage and finishing the treatment to this song. The video follows a voyeuristic heterosexual female gaze – like my own – watching men in all forms, free, relaxed, sexy and objectified. It’s beautiful, provocative, occasionally pervy, sometimes just admiring of the prowess of Jimi Hendrix and his guitar, or Iggy Pop’s gorgeous lack of inhibition.
I’m writing this piece as the frontwoman of the Joy Formidable, but the intent behind this video was formed with both of my male band members. That’s important to mention, because what fuelled this treatment was something that we’d all been feeling: there isn’t enough diversity in sexual representation when it comes to music videos.
The male gaze is well represented in videos: we see plenty of female nudity, statistically more than male nudity. What we don’t see very often is men and women as equal in their nudity and sensuality, without a power struggle. It’s a lot to cover in a single music video, but showing a different side of male sensuality is one part of the conversation. It was difficult to find footage to this aim. At one point, while searching “female gaze” on the internet, the results were camera shots of a woman’s behind. What I’m trying to convey is that, while making this video, we kept finding proof of the imbalance, of the gender stereotypes. It was difficult to find footage that showed men sexualised, sensual or vulnerable in the same way that women are.
We each have the freedom to do what we want to with our bodies and our sexuality – as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else – and we don’t condone objectification in general. The point is that when the media representation is imbalanced, if we are mostly seeing women sexualised or objectified, it’s limited, it’s damaging and, frankly, it’s boring.
I’d like to see even more diversity, please, in music videos and in how sex is represented in culture at large. With the openness of the internet and the way music videos reach people, censorship is changing, and it means that, in many cases, we are becoming more accustomed to explicit material. If that’s what society has decided, let’s see more bulges, more condoms, labia, different body types, pubic hair. Even the long-vilified erection is fine by me. Everything equally presented with less taboo so that diversity is accepted.