Jackie Cohen Runs for Her Life in a New Haley Dahl–Directed “Moonstruck” Video

The LA-based songwriter announces her third album with a song dedicated to two national treasures: Cher and Nicolas Cage.
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Jackie Cohen Runs for Her Life in a New Haley Dahl–Directed “Moonstruck” Video

The LA-based songwriter announces her third album with a song dedicated to two national treasures: Cher and Nicolas Cage.

Words: Matt Wallock

Photo: Marly Ludwig

July 14, 2022

It’s all fun and games until your cheer squad tries to kill you. That’s the premise of Jackie Cohen’s new visual for “Moonstruck,” the creeping, frenzied lead single off her forthcoming album Pratfall. In the video, directed by Sloppy Jane’s Haley Dahl, Cohen joins two pals for dance practice on a tennis court, but what starts out as a sunny choreo session eventually turns into a bloodthirsty chase through the hills. It’s a wild, campy ride, perfectly in line with the adrenaline and doom Cohen channels in the song.

“Haley was really thoughtful about creating this video,” says Cohen. “She wanted to help me tell a story that was cinematic but also true and cathartic, and the cannibal-cheerleader concept came about sort of as a response to the cutesy, peppy, performative version of myself that exists but is actually pretty dislocated from the reality of me.

“I always felt like it was my responsibility in my life to remain small, unobtrusive, palatable, accommodating, and I developed this self-abandoning way of being in the world that was really corrosive to my identity,” Cohen continues. “We talked a lot about trauma, emotional fracturing, horror, the uncanny, the death moth that’s been following me around—appearing in the last shot as a charm—and about the relationship between femininity and screaming. So much of this record has to do with realizing in a split-second of delayed sentience and absolute panic that the quaint, idyllic, well-kempt, well-rehearsed dream has become a nightmare.”

In “Moonstruck,” that dream-turned-nightmare comes in the form of homicidal cheerleaders, but it also comes in the form of heartbreak and suburban dread. The song’s title, meanwhile, is a nod to the 1987 film of the same name, which co-starred Cher and Nicolas Cage. “Get the knife, get the big knife,” Cohen screams in the bridge, almost gleeful in her sense of duty, like a survivalist taking charge at the end of the world. But Cohen doesn’t sound fatalistic—she sounds energized.

Read a Q&A with Cohen below, and pre-order Pratfall—out September 23 via Earth Libraries—here.

What's “Moonstruck” about? Why’d you want to announce the new record with this song?

I wanted to lead with “Moonstruck” because I see it as being the inciting incident of the record. It’s a doomed love song from the perspective of a person who is very lost in the woods, who kinda knows that they’re in trouble but can’t admit it, and who is experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance. They’re hyped up and flailing, trying to preserve a fantasy as it ruptures. It’s really last-ditch and desperate. The song isn’t based upon the movie Moonstruck starring Cher and Nic Cage, but I did draw inspo from the absurd and frankly sinister love plot. Very much like the film, this song is about trauma bonding beneath a big moon, which is much sexier when Cher does it. I also thought this song would be a good first single because it’s got a whip crack sample.

“Get the knife” is such a striking refrain—what does that line mean or evoke for you? 

It’s a paraphrase of a line that Nic Cage delivers in the film. He’s having a tantrum and he wants his big knife brought to him.

When and where did you write the songs on Pratfall?

I wrote the first song for the record in December 2019 and kept writing until we started the record in October 2020. Almost every song I’ve ever written came out of one room in my old house in the Valley. 

Discussing Zagg, you said, “Demoing with [Jonathan] Rado is my favorite work flow because we have a really funny, combative collaborative energy.” Did the demoing process look or feel different for Pratfall?

This record was different than all of my previous records because we didn’t really demo at all. I had a janky 8-track recording of “Two Days” that I’d done on my own, and we did a live version of “Dire Love” one week when Shaun Fleming was in town making a new Diane Coffee record. I think that in the past, Rado and I would spend a lot of energy on demos that we’d always end up trying to re-create anyway, so for Pratfall we just sort of skipped it and cut to the chase. We also spent more time on this record than all of my other records combined. It was a really slow and thoughtful process. 

What are some recent influences? Can you register any on Pratfall?

The strongest influences for this record were the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind movie soundtrack and the Vanilla Sky movie soundtrack. We love Jon Brion, and I had just discovered shoegaze. I’m always late to the game.