Video Premiere: Bec Plexus & Richard Ayres, “i picked you up”

On May 9, Bec Plexus threw a 24-hour party, via livestream, to honor the release of her newest record, STICKLIP. “It was totally on a whim,” Plexus explained. She and her team had spent the last few months preparing a run of elaborate live performances that were ultimately cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of throwing in the towel, they decided to create a series of videos that presented a near-replica of the originally-planned live show. “We thought, we’re ready to play, we should show ‘em what we’ve got!”

So they put together ten psychedelic music videos for songs from STICKLIP. The videos were created in an extremely short period of time, and each provide a playful, surrealist realm to escape into. Over the next 10 weeks, on Tuesdays at 9AM EST, we’ll be premiering these videos on The Road to Sound. Today’s premiere is Richard Ayres’ “i picked you up,” the first in a set of three songs that tell the unsettling tale of unrequited love. You can read more about the song and watch the music video below.

STICKLIP is an album three years in the making. Conceived in 2016 at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, where Plexus was a composition fellow, the project originally featured voice and percussion, but over time morphed into the collection of intimate avant pop tunes released this year. The record features a series of pieces written by different composers, blending together a variety of perspectives and stories, musical and otherwise. In a broad sense, each song responds to the prompt: “write about something you wouldn’t dare say aloud.” Some of the stories are personal, others are imaginative, while others are perhaps too abstract to glean a precise meaning from in the first place. The accompanying music videos provide a splash of trippy vibrancy, mixing neon images and whimsical ideas into quirky juxtapositions. 

Of Ayres’ “i picked you up,” Plexus says:

“Richard Ayres is actually known for writing for symphony orchestras and writing operas, but with this project, he suddenly showed this entirely different side and wrote the quirkiest pop songs you can imagine. They’re all very short, about 2.5 minutes each, and so weird, but also so playful. He described them as love songs written by people that he would rather not meet, that he’d never want to meet. He imagined them as three different stories, but in the show we decided to give it a clearer context so that these three songs are part of the same story. 

All three of the songs are really this creepy, obsessive love. So we thought back to our teenage years, the first time we were in love, when you just feel that that person is your life, they’re everything, they’re so beautiful, you need them! So we sketch this story of a teenage boy who’s in love with the best friend of his brother. We see this boy in the monologue starting off the video, he’s sketching this situation where that friend is coming to hang out with his brother. At this one moment, the friend looks up with this certain sadness in his eyes, and the teenage boy just feels so much connection. He’s thinking, ‘I wanna take care of you, you beautiful person; I wanna pick you up and just nurture you,’ that sentiment. That’s ‘i picked you up,’ the first part of the story. 

The video was all filmed at home and was fully directed by me, so the shots that we have came out of my brain. We have the same teenage boy in the same outfit so you recognize him, and then the loved one. I tried to catch this weird dynamic between these two people that are in some sort of relationship, but you see that it’s one direction and that it’s off. ‘I Picked You Up’ is just packed with shots where the lover is supporting the loved one by always putting a hand on the shoulder, and the loved one is doing daily things like cleaning the window and chopping some leeks, but all the time you see this hand there. It’s this imagined support. When you look at it, it’s just complete nonsense and completely creepy.”