THIS morning, Belfast queerpunks Problem Patterns have released seven new music videos for songs from their fantastic debut album, Blouse Club, which is out tomorrow - and the Irish News has been given the exclusive privilege of sharing two of the new clips.
First up is the video for the Alcopop! Records-signed band's recent AA-side single, Poverty Tourist.
'Cause everybody hates a tourist
Directed by Brendan Seamus and Problem Patterns member Alanah Smith from a concept by her bandmate Bethany Crooks, the video finds the group playing dress-up to parody post-punk pretenders, rich kids slumming it for kicks while knowing they can deploy the parachute of parental wealth at any time.
The videos were premiered to a packed room during the band's Blouse Club: The Movie event at Belfast's Sunflower bar on Sunday night, with Problem Patterns themselves - Alanah Smith, Bethany Crooks, Beverley Boal and Ciara King - on hand to introduce each clip.
"If you're a man in a post-punk band, you might want to look away now," advised Ciara prior to screening the Poverty Tourist video, which was shot at the Northern Lights bar on Belfast's Ormeau Road.
Alanah reveals more about the intent behind the new promo: “We’re a working-class band and there are experiences that are very unique to us, which we have bonded over.
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"It’s incredibly frustrating to see those struggles co-opted by folks who have never had to worry about money. The kind of people who will dig around charity shops to ‘curate’ bits for their Etsy store where they will sell these items at 10-times the price.
"Charity shops exist to serve the community and there are people that depend on them because there are no other options. It’s the rich kids moving into impoverished areas to make themselves sound more interesting, driving up the rent and gentrifying the area.
"This sort of romanticisation of the poor is very prevalent in the music scene, especially in bands (and industry types) who align a working class background with being perceived as more 'authentic'. People dress up and change their accent for personal gain only, but as Jarvis Cocker once said, ‘If you called your dad he could stop this all’ - and of course, he also said, ‘Everybody hates a tourist.’
"It’s cosplay, it’s gross, and it’s always obvious when someone is doing this.”
Health is wealth
Next up, we have the video for Picture of Health, which finds Alanah attempting to evade some of her struggles with wellbeing that have manifested in creepy physical form.
"The song is about my personal issues with chronic illness, both physical and mental, " explains Alanah, who also directed the promo, which was filmed by Aileen McKenna.
"When you’re sick, sometimes you end up with all these unanswered questions and a lack of control over what’s happening to you - you become desperate to be the old you, or you grieve what you think could have been. There’s a lot of self-hatred. It’s not necessarily about self-love or toxic positivity, but just accepting how things are.
"Diet culture is also something that has affected me my whole life. You hear phrases like 'get your body back' as if you are meant to be the same size and shape forever. You might not always be happy with your body, but we all need to be kinder. We only get the one."
"For the video, I thought a lot about the term 'body horror' - we didn’t have a budget at all for this one, so I wasn’t about to go full Cronenberg, but I still wanted to lean into something creepy.
"I wanted to turn my personal demons into actual characters that the viewer can see. I thought it would be really funny if they were just following me around on an otherwise mundane day: trying to exercise, going to work. Constantly nagging at me while I try to do these tasks.
"In the end, I go home and we all cuddle on the sofa. They are a part of me whether I like it or not. I found the masks in a pound shop and we had Beverley, Ciara and Jake McCrea (Moon Landing) who stood in for Beth.
"Aileen (This Ship Argo, who also helped Beverley with the video for Advertising Services) filmed on my phone as I had to be on screen. It was all shot and edited within a few hours. I had no idea they were all making eye contact with the camera until I was putting it together, which made it really funny and genuinely creepy."
Blouse Club is released tomorrow on Alcopop! Records. Pre-order via problempatterns.bandcamp.com. The band will perform the new record in full tomorrow night at a special album launch show at the Black Box in Belfast. Tickets on sale now via blackboxbelfast.com