Haunting vocals and gorgeous clothing comprise Roniit’s new music video for her cover of Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People.”
In this video, she has collaborated with dark fashion company Killstar. Using their models and clothing, she has woven a tapestry of dark deliciousness. Here we interview her about her work, her process, and her style.
Dirge: Why “Beautiful People”?
Roniit: I felt very connected to the lyrics at the time of recording the vocals. I had just left a long time music industry job, lost all my fake friends, and was thinking about how ruthless people can be. I didn’t feel accepted in the industry and I just wanted to be surrounded by other weirdos like me. I really felt this song could be turned into something very empowering for people who felt like outcasts. It just felt right to cover it. Sometimes I start a cover and never finish it, but this one just clicked with me on so many levels.
What new things did you want to bring to your cover of this song?
There are so many different ways to interpret song lyrics. I think it’s pretty obvious that Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” are those who are evil, those who destroy the planet, those will do anything to make a profit, etc. My version is a bit more positive – the verses are from the perspective of someone who is different, someone who feels defeated by life and the evil that surrounds us. In the chorus that person becomes empowered; that person is beautiful. It’s definitely a completely different spin on the lyrics. Production-wise my note to Varien (the producer) was to make it dark and haunting. My creative partner IIZII told him to make it “Gothic Noir” as we were conceptualizing the video before the song was even done!
In your bio, you reference growing up in Colorado as an influence. Did anything particular in your environment inform how you produced this song and video?
Growing up in the mountains gave me a deep appreciation for nature, which led me to buy a house in the mountains here in California. I live in a really quirky town no one has ever heard of that’s about an hour and a half from Los Angeles. Because there are so many amazing spots to film up here IIZII and I we were able to go visit those places over and over and just brainstorm on location. We would go on hikes in the forest and act out scenes. Use rocks and sticks as fake props, or just lay under the trees and think about the story. I feel being in nature allowed us to think clearly, do better work, and have ease of production for the video because our filming locations were either in our house or just outside it.
Why did you choose to collaborate with Killstar?
Killstar has been my favorite clothing brand for years! This project is truly a dream come true for me. I’ve always felt very connected with their clothing and their message as they are a brand that’s attracting and uniting modern day witches, weirdos, and alternative minded people. They give people who may feel like outcasts a home. This is something I’m very passionate about as I felt very alone in my black clothes in high school. I’m also very passionate about mental health and helping those who struggle. Giving people who feel different a place to call home is definitely a huge step in the right direction.
What is your favorite component of their aesthetic?
I love that they do goth/witch fashion in a classy, modern way. I love long flowing black clothes and I love leather. I can wear Killstar in a photoshoot, on stage, to a party, or just to the grocery store and I feel like a dark sorceress. I think clothing should help you represent what you feel inside. I also love the attention to detail – you’ll be having a bad day then roll up your sleeve and notice a little tag that says “you have to be odd to be number one.” Okay then, I feel better about life, thanks Killstar.
How did the traditional tropes of witchcraft inform your choice of clothing, ambiance, and staging for this video?
Well most importantly – I didn’t want to perpetuate the myth that we make things levitate and ride on broomsticks. The message I was trying to send is that witches come from all different walks of life, and it’s more about a lifestyle than doing magic tricks. Killstar makes clothing for the modern witch, so that element was easy. IIZII and I talked a lot about EVERYTHING, we obsessed over the details and I delved further into my witch research, watching documentaries and reading. In the seance scene we burned cedar in the fire, some of the girls had rocks and crystals, sage, and palo santo. We worked hard to find a location that looked ancient but was still surrounded by nature. I remember when we first started the seance scene I looked at Asia Ray and we both started laughing because there was so much intense energy and we were both feeling it. I’ve never gathered with women to have a ritual and it felt so amazing to be surrounded by these powerful women in nature the night before the full moon. Honestly it was one of the coolest experience of my life and I want to do it again and again! It felt like a legitimate ritual to me. Furthermore, every girl in this video has a unique talent in real life and we really tried to showcase that and just empower women. I had so many more witchy ideas that didn’t make the cut, but that means I get to save them for future videos!
When will your new album come out?
Good question! I guess when it’s done! I’m working on something very different, really taking it to the next level. It’s not just going to be an album, but really an audio/visual experience that I’m creating with IIZII. It will probably be quite a few months before it’s ready!
For further information and updates (as well as more pics from the video!) Roniit can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. “Beautiful People” as well as her other work can be found on Soundcloud.
Header image: Ashley Joncas – Beautiful People – Photo Credit: Ashley Joncas