Exclusive video premiere: Talvi’s “Victim Mentality”



If you live in Toronto’s west end, you might have happened upon Talvi Faustmann, a platinum blonde bombshell who looks completely out of place in our oft-drab city. She’s a little bit Nico, a little bit Jerry Hall, maybe a little Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago. And at 5”10, she towers over us mere mortals with her ethereal beauty. All this to say that the singer maybe belongs in another time, which makes sense given that the past is where she finds much of the inspiration for her own music.

Talvi has been performing as one half of the synthpop band Prince Innocence for the last decade alongside Josh McIntyre, but is embarking on a solo journey where she’ll mine the distant and recent past in plaintive, dreamy songs that speak to love, female identity, and the dark sides of both. Similarly, her first single, “Victim Mentality,” explores a past relationship with a drastic power imbalance.

In the video, which premieres exclusively on Capsule 98, Talvi appears as a nostalgic ode to the so-called ideal woman, from the star of a ‘90s tampon commercial to Angela, the villainized sexpot played by Mean Suvari in American Beauty. In recreating Angela’s bedroom, Talvi addresses the many toxicities of 2000s culture. “It was an era that set a standard that left female identity feeling like this deranged and contradictory collage of ideas about what women should be,” she says, “Everything feels tainted – ideals are simultaneously warnings. Our only hope, it seems to me, is to somehow reclaim these dissected fragments and make them our own.”

Here, Talvi talks “Victim Mentality,” her deranged quarantine behaviours, and the visual references that make her debut solo video so evocative.

Why did you decide to go solo?
I think it was important for Josh and me to explore separate musical identities after working together for so long. There was stuff I wanted to do that wasn’t going to work with him producing and vice versa. We still have some really great unreleased stuff coming out soon, but for now, recording is on a hiatus.

What is “Victim Mentality” about?
In terms of production ‘Victim Mentality’ was inspired by a song my producer Sam Willows and I both love by the late ‘90s band Ivy called “Undertow,” but that was just a jumping off point.

Lyrically it’s about a relationship I had with an older man, with a pretty drastic power imbalance. The lyrics are straightforward – I wanted them to be plain and sweet like a country ballad.

Why did you choose it for the first single?
I thought it showed a clear change from previous work I’ve done. It’s very earnest and open and has more of a singer/songwriter feel, which I had never tried before. It speaks to what the rest of the album is going to sound like. A little bit cosmic and acoustic with a clear upfront vocal style.

Tell us about the concept for the video.
The concept of the video was to create a bunch of stylized liminal dream worlds that were slightly tongue in cheek references to naive ideas of love in a girl’s mind.  I wanted to honour those concepts and really go into them fully because they’re beautiful and valuable, but it is also a send-off. The rest of the album deals with very different subject matter.

What’s next for you?
My next single is called “Rotten Sweet,” the intro of which can be heard during the credits of this video and it’s also produced by Sam Willows. It comes out in November and will be followed by the rest of the album in the new year.

Prince Innocence has some song placements in some major HBO and Netflix shows coming out which will be fun to see and I’m doing some directing work for some big artists and brands in the next few months.

You spent a lot of quarantine experimenting with lewks, what were you inspired by in the last year or so?
I lived alone at the beginning of quarantine, went full Grey Gardens and developed a bunch of unhealthy parasocial relationships with famous drag queens as some kind of deranged coping mechanism – most notably Katya Zamolodchikova who I love more than words can express. It was a weird time. Now that life has opened up a little bit it’s fallen off as a hobby for me, mainly because it’s so much work and I’m lazy, but drag is wonderful.

Here, Talvi shares the nostalgic references behind “Victim Mentality”

Kate Bush in "Suspended in Gaffa"
Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet

I wanted to reference the vibrant colours and feel of a tampon or birth control commercial from the late 90s/early 2000s – sort of like an idea of femininity dreamed up in a boardroom that I grew up seeing in popular culture. Think Gerbera daisies and shiny haired women laughing in front of a complimentary colour backdrop. Ultimately, I think aesthetically what I landed on was more ‘70s Italian horror movie.

The other references were Romeo + Juliet, the poster children for young, foolish love. And the Kate Bush video “Suspended in Gaffa.” which has a scene we recreated of her rolling around in that low hanging dry ice that looks like clouds.

Mena Suvari in American Beauty

The bedroom scene is specifically based off Angela’s bedroom in American Beauty. Angela (Mena Suvari) is set up as a vain, shallow character, contrasted with the more shy, introspective Jane (Thora Birch). Angela’s bedroom decor mirrors this – the walls are plastered with magazine cut-outs of celebrities and models. Late’ 90s cinema loved to give makeover montages to tomboy characters and then early 2000s cinema loved to villainize ultra-femininity in relation to tomboy characters.

I like to think Angela is redeemed from that characterization by the end of the movie. She’s exposed as a naive troubled girl who has a lot of complex sexuality projected onto her that she can’t really deliver. She’s more of a victim of the narrow things she feels she’s valued for than a villain. I wanted to recreate that bedroom specifically as a nod to the early 2000s, the era that I grew up in that I’m aesthetically drawn to for a reason. It was an era that set a standard that left female identity feeling like this deranged and contradictory collage of ideas about what women should be. Everything feels tainted – ideals are simultaneously warnings. Our only hope, it seems to me, is to somehow reclaim these dissected fragments and make them our own.

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