Despite those sensuous synths and the shadowy, film-noir-friendly hooks, Brooklyn synth-pop outfit Class Actress is also the throbbing heartbeat of the dance-floor. Its front woman, Elizabeth Harper, released her debut LP, Rapprocher, this past fall and is premiering its first video, for “Bienvenue,” here on ELLE.com. In the video Harper plays a glam, designer-clad actress who falls for a foxy model in Paris—we asked her for all the behind the scenes details!
ELLE: Tell us about the music video for “Bienvenue”—you’re obviously a Francophile!
Elizabeth Harper: As a girl, I fell in love with Montmarte—it’s the classic romantic artist haven. So far, most of my videos have been shot in different parts of my world in New York—The Palace Hotel, Brooklyn, a night out in the Village—so now I plan to invite people to see the other cities I love. Part of what Class Actress is about, to me, is the golden age of travel and what that time invokes: love letters, elegance, adventure, letting loose, loving life, feeling things rather than avoiding them. Paris is a city of senses and sensuality. New York is unnatural and synthetic; a place for action. So, as Anaïs Nin said: “Paris-New York, the two high tension magnetic poles between life, life of the senses of the spirit in Paris, and life in action in New York.”
ELLE: How did you get into character for the video?
EH: Getting into character was all about the hotel I stayed in. It was very, very private so I felt like an actress hiding out in my suite. The prep usually comes from the lyrics. The set, the clothes, the make-up were all French-inspired, but really all I needed was Paris. Paris is really the other character in the video. And we chose to do it during the holidays since the whole city was lit up with Christmas lights.
ELLE: Do you have a thing for French fellas in real life?
EH: Hmmm. Perhaps I do have a penchant for French men! But maybe it’s because seduction is a high art form for them, which, let’s face it, some guys miss the boat on. And, as cliche as it may sound, the sound of him reading me dirty Paul Verlaine poems… well, let’s just say it does the trick.
ELLE: Let’s talk about the clothes!
EH: We were going for a very classic Parisian look. When you have nice fabric, shiny hair, Paris and her city lights, you can’t go wrong. We wanted fabrics that moved since we knew there was going movement in slow motion. The cape I’m wearing by the canal is my favorite—it’s vintage Gaultier and the dress in the hotel is vintage Dior. We wanted glamour and super feminine clothes; basically, we had to find a power dress for the photo-shoot scene. So we picked a very ’80s-looking dress that had ’50s inspiration. The dress had to be strong and sharp-shaped, shiny, and black. Then we had to find miraculously glamorous day clothes for the other scenes—clothes that a normal girl wouldn’t wear, but clothes that would appear particularly normal to wear for the “actress” in the photo shoot. The video’s all about cinematic references, feminine attitude and fantasizing one’s own life.
ELLE: And finally, why should we listen to Rapprocher in five words or less?
EH: It will open your heart.