Anxiety is a sneaky, shapeshifting thing, a moving target on your back – or rather, on your mind. It can be profoundly intense to the point of physical debilitation; other times it’s a looming, creeping sensation of paranoia, negativity, fear, and insecurity slithering snake-like through your thoughts.
The gloomy video for “ABQ,” a track from The Marías’ second EP, Superclean Vol. II, mirrors that feeling, and unsurprisingly, singer María penned this slow-march during an anxious state while traveling in a van on the band’s first tour.
“I remember recording vocals and having to go underneath a blanket so that no one could hear or see me,” she says in a press statement.
In the video, women cloaked in hooded capes surround María like a black cloud, even when she seems to be in the clear and calm, standing strong in brighter light alongside a horse and wearing a white gown. These cloaked figures are an allusion to that blanket, which became María’s safe haven on tour.
Sporadically on “ABQ,” María pleads, “Can I be alone?” She’s referencing the feeling of being crowded by multiple bandmates in the small van space on tour, but she could also be speaking directly to anxiety – because for those who live with it, it is always there. Trepidation is constant; a full-blown attack could strike anytime, for unknown reasons, with little or no prompting.
Sometimes, however, we can discern from where it develops, or at least a particular manifestation: “As you grow as an artist, more is asked of you and you don’t want to let anyone down,” María says.
Working for a fourth time with director Ian Lipton, María co-directed “ABQ,” and together they convey the eternal mental tension of living with anxiety. In the moments where the cloaked women surrounding María look directly to the camera, though, it’s startling: a jolt to the viewer that cuts through the bleak color palette. Each moment of intentional focus feels like an acknowledgment, a spark of awareness that anxiety is conquerable. Eliminating it altogether may not be possible, but with effort, we can better control it.
Watch the video for “ABQ” below: