As almost any witchcraft-related film will tell you (*cough* Hocus Pocus, The Craft, Teen Witch *cough*), magick and spells can sometimes backfire. It’s a lesson Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and artist BIIANCO learns the hard way in their new music video for “checkmate,” premiering exclusively on PopCrush today.
In the video, BIIANCO is a witch of the woods who casts a love spell that goes sideways. What seems at first to be bliss — an enthralling lovesickness that culminates in a genuinely stunning levitation scene — slowly descends into a sort of twisted dark magick as BIIANCO becomes consumed by their own hopeless yearning. Ultimately, this cursed love transforms them into a beautiful, monstrous token of their own tragic desire.
Inspired by high-brow horror films from the likes of Ari Aster (the clip contains visual nods to both Hereditary and Midsommar) and Robert Eggers, the visual perhaps borrows the most from the latter, conjuring the director’s 2016 film The Witch with its rich, dark cinematography and brooding, isolated atmosphere.
Watch the spellbinding music video for BIIANCO’s “checkmate,” below:
Speaking to PopCrush, BIIANCO says “checkmate” is the next installation in their anthology of horror-inspired visuals, which include the video for previous single “that’s what friends are for” and its interactive, Choose Your Own Adventure-style survival horror game.
“I really like horror films. We wanted to pay homage to the horror film greats while simultaneously depicting the personal story that inspired the plot,” they share.
Meanwhile, the “song itself is about the beginnings of a love so intoxicating that it’s like drugs—racing into a romance that you know will probably end up wrecking you but you couldn’t stop if you tried.” The track was inspired by a surreal and serendipitous experience BIIANCO had while practicing a full moon ritual.
“About a year ago, I went out to the forest and did my own manifestation ritual under a full moon in a forest meadow,” BIIANCO explains. “It was a full blown scene from The Craft. At the height of it, I felt really compelled to howl at the moon and suddenly I heard a howl back. So, naturally, I howled again and, naturally, it howled back again. A couple minutes later my friends and I heard it come through the brush. A coyote in the middle of the forest had literally come to me when I called. That was actually the beginning of a very heart-wrenching half-a-year of my life, so I ‘lovingly’ refer to it as the love spell gone awry.”
For the video, BIIANCO says they “wanted to play up the theme that love is the death of me.” The visual was made by a skeleton crew of four creatives — BIIANCO, director and videographer Scott Fleishman, set designer Christina Rosann Ray and producer Erin Hinojos — in two days straight, inside a gorgeous 1920s cabin in the woods.
As for that killer levitating scene? “Oh, and because literally everyone who has seen the video has asked about this, the way we achieved the floating scene was by suspending a ton of mountain climbing ropes from the wood beams on the ceiling and cranking me up via a harness. I had bruises on my thighs for a week!”
“checkmate” is out June 11. Pre-save the song here.