You may recall Z Berg from her role in the 2000s indie-pop outfit The Like, but in recent years the Angeleno has set off on her own to record a series of singles, which she’s now announcing have been leading up to a proper album called Get Z to a Nunnery. There are plenty more familiar voices haunting the dreamy pop record, as well, including Phoebe Bridgers, Ethan Gruska, Madison Cunningham, and Blake Mills.
To prep listeners for the new record, Berg is rolling out a seductive new video today for the album single “To Forget You” which takes the songwriter back to Paris, where the longing that fueled the track was born. Filmed by Lauren Rothery (whose portfolio includes videos for Royksopp), the clip spotlights Berg alone in the City of Love as a way of removing the actual object of affection from the love song.
“Instead of trying to find a surrogate subject to star as the object of my affection, Lauren, behind the camera, became the other character in the narrative,” she shares. “It was two weeks of just the two of us and a whirring Super 8 camera, wandering around Paris trying to capture and commit true intimacy to film. We joked constantly that we were making intimacy porn, and also Paris porn, and a bit of nostalgia porn.”
To Forget You” is the only song I’ve ever written in the very middle of a feeling. Writing, for me, usually occurs in retrospect. As if I must wait for the waves to calm before I can see my reflection in the water. But “To Forget You” I wrote in the very thick of it. I had fallen madly, hopelessly in love in and with Paris, and I got home to Los Angeles and I sat on my couch and I remember thinking, “I’m going to die. I will absolutely, physically die if I cannot see this person again immediately.” And I wrote the song in that very moment, sitting on the couch, utterly blinded and engulfed by infatuation and regret and the sheer physical pain of presumed love. As is often the case, I later realized it was not so much love as a perfect storm of timing, infatuation, and Paris itself. But for that one moment, it was a love like no other. And I forever have the feeling captured, as if I bottled it up and can drink it any time I want.
And so, after a horrific breakup that kicked off the apocalyptic shitstorm that is 2020, and right before shit really hit the fan, I flew to off Paris for the first time since the song was written. By sheer chance, my partner and longtime collaborator, Lauren Rothery, was there with her Super 8 camera and time to spare and I, as I often do, got it in my head that it would be absolutely brilliant to recreate the whole scene, to commit my memories to film, to visit all the places we had been. Just trying to relive the past frame by frame.
We shot in the room at Hotel Amour that I had stayed in on the last fateful trip. We shot in the Luxembourg gardens where we had once walked—in the cemetery, in the sea of bones, in a completely pandemic-emptied, rainy Versailles. But instead of trying to find a surrogate subject to star as the object of my affection, Lauren, behind the camera, became the other character in the narrative. It was two weeks of just the two of us and a whirring Super 8 camera, wandering around Paris trying to capture and commit true intimacy to film. We joked constantly that we were making intimacy porn, and also Paris porn, and a bit of nostalgia porn.
We wondered, “What do your memories of falling in love look like?” Little frozen frames of tiny, often silent, often nonsensical, shared moments. Flashes of toes curled, absurd faces made, tears falling, and the dizzying silliness you share in a world that can only hold the two of you in it. And because it was just us two, it became clear that the gaze was unmistakably hers and unmistakably female. Even with a lens between us, the gaze was very much Lauren’s, and the intimacy was very much ours.
The irony of releasing a video about intimacy while so many of us (including myself) are trapped in isolation is not lost on me. Through the lens of the current moment, this video feels almost like one of those cloying, interactive, POV porn games—minus the sex. It’s just a little bit of love POV. Just me, vulnerable and stupid and real and and high on happiness. So happy I could capture such a moment before the gates closed and locked me in my bedroom. So let me be your quarantine girlfriend, gazing at you longingly from the screen, reminding you I love you and you’re not alone out there.