If you’re just now discovering the queer musical quartet Poor Baby, your’e a little late: the band has been forced to break up since its members (Amy Smith on guitar, Peri Lapidus on bass, Ari Anderson on vocals, Nydia Hartono on drums) moved to separate coasts. Still, a few thousand miles couldn’t stop the group from creating one last technicolor music video for their song “Feera,” which, in their words, is “a goodbye kiss from us.”
The film is a dreamy, bright short that draws inspiration from several queer artists—in the band’s description, “Prue Stent and Maisie Cousins are basically the grandparents of this video.” Everyone who worked on the project—the cast, musicians, sound mixers, colorists, among others—identifies as femme or nonbinary, which is a remarkable feat in a medium dominated by film bros.
We sat down with Poor Baby’s Ari Anderson and Nydia Hartono, who directed and shot the video, to talk about the process behind their gorgeous short and the other nonbinary and feminine art they’re drawing inspiration from. You can catch Anderson at the Nous Tous Gallery in Los Angeles this Friday on the panel of the Deconstructing Asian Masculinity Show, and keep an eye out for Hartono’s forthcoming photo series, “Are We Queer Yet?”
OUT: Walk me through the process of making this video.
Anderson: I was on vacation in Greece last summer with my boyfriend at the time. Our relationship was really rocky because of some shit I was pulling, and the disconnect between the beauty all around us and the distance and pain between us was really striking to me. Duh, [I] wrote a poem about it. He had given me a pin with these little finches on it a while before we left—these love birds. And we were like, That’s us. So the chorus of the song, “love birds, always,” is a question, and a hope, and very sarcastic all at once. I sent what I had to our guitarist/arranger-in-chief Amy Smith, and they put some real heft behind these mopey-ass lyrics.
Hartono: When we got to LA, Ari and I felt driven to make something as creative partners after previously working together on a music video for our friends, Fawn. At that time, we had just put Poor Baby to rest because we moved to separate coasts and felt like creating one final piece to prolong the death of our band.
Everyone in production was a woman or nonbinary individual. How was it working on that team?
Anderson: It wasn’t even a conscious decision. We just wanted to work with people who we thought were the best at what they did, or people we thought would get the vision and see where we were coming from. Only in hindsight were we like, Oh, shit. Femmes/NBs everywhere. Literally, everybody. Everyone in the band, our producer, our dancers, our hair/makeup person, colorist and editor—everybody.
Hartono: We were both inspired by the works of Prue Stent and Maisie Cousins, specifically the way their art walks the line between beauty and repulsion so stunningly. We wanted our visuals to evoke the same feelings of discomfort and attraction to represent the disconnect between the internal and external explored in the lyrics. We had all these grand concepts of what we wanted initially then very quickly realized we were working on a non-existent budget so we spent many afternoons in the toys section of Rite Aid brainstorming.
Who are some other artists we should know about?
Anderson: If you don’t follow @penelopegazin, you should. Our friend @mangohelll is a gifted designer and artist. @yungwolftown does these beautiful portraits of young artists of color, and it’s such a great feed and a dope way to find young artists to follow and support. Also, Prue Stent and Maisie Cousins are basically the grandparents of this video.
Hartono: @sukebangang and @welcometojuniorhigh are two of many platforms that support artists of color you should follow. I’ve been obsessed with Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee’s work and the way she’s reconstructing the representation of East/Southeast Asian women through her photographs. [Also] our dear friend and creative collaborator, Yasmina Hilal. Her work is fuego.
What future projects are you working on?
Anderson: I’m gonna be on a panel at Nous Tous Gallery talking about the intersection of gender and fashion at the Deconstructing Asian Masculinity Show this Friday.
Hartono: I’m currently working on a photo series exploring the complexities of QPOC identity in private and public spaces titled “Are We Queer Yet?” I’m still looking for queers to shoot, so please slide into my DMs (@nydiahartono).