Stranger Things star Maya Hawke has dropped a delightfully dark new music video for her latest single, “Thérèse,” and it is an orgy-fest.
The music video begins with Hawke riding ’til dusk in a car, heading to a secluded forest. Later in the nighttime, she engages in sexual acts with herself and several other people. It’s all fun and games until the cops show up. Everyone tries to flee and escape their grip, regardless of whether they were half-clothed or nude, but to no avail. “It's tactless, it's a test,” she sings softly in the chorus while handcuffed. “It's just Thérèse, it's just Thérèse.”
In an interview with Dazed, Hawke describes the central theme of “Thérèse”’s music video as “the feeling that loneliness is the worst thing, until you realize it’s far superior to bad company; about how free we are as kids and then as we go through puberty and culture crushes down on us and instead of being ourselves, we start to try and be like everyone else.”
The song’s title derives from the controversial 1938 painting “Thérèse Dreaming” by Polish-French artist Balthus, depicting a prepubescent girl sitting suggestively with her legs open and her underwear visible. The artwork is currently displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the singer felt connected to Thérèse in being scrutinized by the public to Hawke’s own upbringing of being the daughter of two renown actors, compelling her to write the single.
“‘Thérèse’ is about the secret spaces we build where we are free to be ourselves, in a world that is always intentionally or systematically misunderstanding us,” Hawke said in a statement per IndieWire. “How hard we have to fight against internal and external forces just to love each other, love ourselves, love our bodies. ‘Thérèse’ is a call to return to the beginner’s mind. A reminder, if only to myself.” The track is the first single off Hawke’s upcoming studio album, Moss, which is slated for release on September 23.
The music video was directed by Brady Cobert, who directed the musical drama Vox Lux and also played Brian Lackey in the 2004 film Mysterious Skin. Hawke once auditioned for one of his films and failed to land a role, but it did not stop the two from forming a friendship and collaborating. She also pulled inspiration for the visual from Japanese photographer Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series “Kōen,” which captures people engaging in sexual activities at Tokyo parks at night.
“Brady saw the video very clearly in his head, but I can’t imagine he could have guessed how well his idea fit with what I wanted to reveal and express about the song,” Hawke said to Dazed. “I hope people like it or hate it, or whatever. I hope it makes them feel something other than shame, self-hatred, and loneliness. I think we are all tired of feeling like that.”