Mimi Oz wrote her song “Hate” as a way to deal with conflicting feelings of being an outsider. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter thrives on “being alone,” she says, as a “highly creative” person. With a strong support system, she adds, “I can’t say that loneliness is a regular feeling that I experience.” And yet, when she was living in New York City from 2018-19, pangs of loneliness continuously ripped right through her psyche, inspiring her to write “Hate.” A visual for the track, directed by Dylan Mars Greenberg, premieres today via Audiofemme.
“I was hit hard by a lot of things that were adding up, one of them being that it didn’t matter where I went, I just kind of felt like people didn’t like me,” she tells Audiofemme. “That was a hard truth that wore on my mental health. Not fitting into my community was also part of it, and that was every area of NY that I lived in.”
The song appears on Oz’s third studio record, Growing Pains, released October 22. “All my life, I tried to live outside the hate,” she huffs in almost a dream state, then caterwauls, “I see the hate you feel for me,” as electric guitar intensifies into a rolling boil. Oz reaches her hand through space and time to appeal to our collective sadness and the pressures of modern living and dying. With drums played by Miles Gibbons and guitar from David Celia, Oz conjures up a “perfect hollow space where you can feel the intensity of the lyrics, and everything hits hard and together and pulls you along. There is also a sense of violence, and I wanted to somehow explore that in the video but it didn’t end up turning out that way.”
Instead, the accompanying visual plants Oz smack dab in the middle of a bustling NYC subway. Trains whizz by, and preoccupied people in suits shuffle off to their 9-to-5, desperation hanging in the background like gnawed-up cork board. Within this setting, Oz and Greenberg accentuate the heavy sorrow woven into everyday existence. “It’s true millions of people feel that sadness. I’ve seen a number of people pushed off the edge in New York, mentally,” says Oz. “Sharing my experience and writing music that is relevant is key. If I was living without passion or purpose, that would be a cause for concern.”
Reality-rooted imagery mingles with absurdism like floating heads and oversized eyeballs, a creative idea Greenberg brought to the table to illustrate “the world inside my mind and the real world, the physical world,” Oz explains. “I’m isolated and alone, telling the story with menacing floating heads above me. I think the CGI helps the viewer really clue into the storyline and focus on the lyrics more.”
“Dylan has this really renegade, hands-on approach to film-making that I admire,” she continues. “The original artwork I released for this single was a watercolor that I had painted of a black sheep with a psychedelic coat of fur. I recreated this by tying together bright pieces of scrap fabric into a long boa that I wore across my neck. The character is someone that people don’t understand, but are fascinated with.”
Creating merch and other costume pieces has “opened up a whole new world for me as an artist,” Oz says. “Fashion has become this amazing outlet for me in the past year where I have been able to connect with so many people and share my work… I can be who I am, and inspire others at the same time.”
While her journey to acceptance “probably doesn’t matter,” Oz says frankly, the experiences that lead her to write “Hate” have at least given her some perspective. “Life is confusing, so just try to be a good person,” she says. “I think now I care less, and also try to have as much compassion as I can, while also taking care of myself.”
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