Gabrielle Wortman and Jason Rosen, also known as Los Angeles-based electro-soul duo Smoke Season, want to tell a different story this Valentine’s Day. “There are two-person love stories being told all the time, we wanted to tell a one-person love story,” says Wortman.
The pair chose to reimagine Lionel Richie’s 1984 classic hit “Hello,” and in classic Smoke Season style, paired it with a cinematic visual component. “We both studied film scoring in college; our music videos are so important to us, it’s our chance to marry the visual and musical elements,” explains Wortman. “We’d always wanted to release ‘Hello’ for Valentine’s Day because it’s a love story, but after the election, the love story we were going to tell changed. Gender equality has always been an issue, but with the new rhetoric prominent now, we decided to focus on female empowerment.” The original video for “Hello” featured Richie pining for a woman, and in the end, he’s the center of her universe. “We decided to put women at the center of their own narratives, rather than objectifying them,” she adds.
With critically-acclaimed actress Megan Duffy in the director’s chair, Schon Magazine beauty producer Mynxii White, who has worked with everyone from Stella McCartney to Marilyn Manson, and Zoe Zhou, stylist to Beyonce, providing flawless makeup, hair, and style to the project, the team created a stunning three-minute film. “We chose 1940s-inspired fashion because it was during that era, for the first time in history, women were working and were a driving economic force. That’s when women began wearing pantsuits!” she relates. “In the video, a woman comes home, she takes a bath, a baptism of sorts, she comes clean, and each of the versions of her are different roles of femininity—whether it’s what society puts on us or whether we put it on ourselves. The main character goes through these stages of femininity; we even joked that Jason’s role in the video is even a form of femininity, as if the character reaches ultimate masculinity in her journey to empowerment,” she continues. “The shot at the end of the character in the yellow dress, it’s like she’s put her armor back on, she’s the queen again, and ready for another round.”
The band, who has been busy finishing their forthcoming full-length album, with plans to perform at this year’s SXSW before touring nationally, wants the video to inspire women to love themselves. “Gender issues are at the forefront of the conversation these days, and we wanted to tell a story about a woman learning to love herself,” Wortman explains. “The theme of the video is ‘You come home from a really long day, you got your ass kicked emotionally, and you’re exhausted,’ which is how a lot off women felt after the election,” she adds. “This is our battle cry to them.”