It’s been a low-key 18 months for Etta Bond, but the London-based R’n’B singer is back with a characteristically soulful track and accompanying visuals. ‘Kiss My Girlfriend’ is a four-minute exploration of sensuality and female beauty, produced by Chris Loco. The video, shot in east London, features a diverse cast of women and the use of 8mm film at various points exudes authenticity. Much like that of her previous release “Seen And Never Heard”, Bond’s latest project confronts femininity without sexualising it.
The video, directed by Sophie Jones, concludes with a monologue from the artist Monica Hernandez. She illustrates the common phenomenon of “fake woke” boys who slide into your DMs, extolling the virtues of energy and their love of art. In honeyed tones she reminds listeners that, “Dudes will switch up their whole entire approach depending on the woman they’re approaching.”
The combined audio and visuals have the same effect as a heart-to-heart with your wisest girlfriend: you come away that bit more confident with a fresh reminder of your worth. “I just want women to be aware of the games people play and to protect themselves,” Bond told gal-dem. Authenticity was threaded throughout our conversation with the singer, who explained the concept behind the video and why collaborations should be more than a one-night stand.
gal-dem: Why did you want to explore sexuality and female beauty?
Etta Bond: I think it’s just natural to me to explore those subjects; they’re things that I relate to. It’s like anything I write, they’re just things that I’m experiencing in my life on a day to day.
It’s about female sensuality but it’s not sexualised. Was that intentional?
Do you know what, it’s just a celebration of female energy. It can sometimes come across as sensual because that is part of female energy, but there’s a difference between that and just exploiting sex, do you know what I mean?
Your previous release, ‘Seen and Never Heard’, is in a similar vein. You mentioned when it came out that people might look at the visual and just see a sexualised female body. The same is possible with ‘Kiss My Girlfriend’ – someone might look at that and be like “yay girls getting off”. How do you feel about people engaging with your work and getting things you didn’t necessarily mean to communicate?
It’s like any piece of art, it’s down to interpretation. It’s what it means to me so whether people get that or not is not the point. For the people that get it, it’s like our wink to each other. There’s always going to be people who do see things the way we do or don’t look at us the way we want to be looked at, but that’s something we have to live with. We have to be comfortable with being who we are regardless of how other people may take that.
Is that a common experience… people getting something you didn’t mean to communicate?
Yeah, people always misunderstand but I try not to worry too much and just do me regardless.
Do you think the audio and visual mediums need to be seen together to be fully appreciated?
I definitely think that visuals enhance all the things that I’m trying to say. I have to big up Sophie Jones, she’s a really good friend of mine and we’ve worked together a lot, especially at the beginning of my career. She’s been my photographer for quite a while but this is her first music video so it was really nice to work on that with her because she knows everything about me and I know everything about her. It’s a natural process and that’s important to me, that the process feels as lovely as it can.
What kind of role did you play when it came to working with Sophie and developing the concept? We worked really closely together. It started off with a small idea and we just bounced off each other and had conversations. Even down to the casting, we just sat down and handpicked the girls that we were using. I think that that’s evident throughout the video, just all of us working really closely together and listening to each other.
Is it important for you to build a relationship with the people you work with?
Yeah totally. It is love to me. I can have a one-night stand and sometimes it’s terrible, or sometimes you come out of it like… oh that was alright, I liked that! But to continuously go back to working with someone in terms of a loving relationship, there has to be like a real connection and you have to feel comfortable with them and able to be open and natural. I like everything in my life to be very natural but with producers especially because essentially I’m opening my soul to them.
It’s been a year and a half since your last release – do you feel like there’s been any artistic progression for you?
There’s always progression because I’m growing and changing everyday as a person and I think that’s going to be reflected in my music. No matter how long you know someone, they grow and change but they’re always them and it’s the same with my music. It’s a little more grown and sexy but it’s still got that soulful vibe to it.