Even while pummeling from the sky — wrapped in ribbons with a peaceful smile and cherry red talons — IV4 only thinks about one thing: that "Stroke." On the St. Louis-born, LA-based artist's new single and accompanying music video, she lustfully calls out for a lover to give her what she wants, as passersby on the street below look up and marvel at the sight. "Do you ever think about me?" she questions like a siren, featuring guest vocals from Jeremih.
Following the viral success of her 2020 single, "Swimming," with Trippie Redd, IV4 is preparing to release her forthcoming album, Get Rich or Cry Trying — a play off 50 Cent's 2003 breakout and subsequent acting debut. "Stroke," then, is a reflection of what's to come next, from her seductive vocal delivery to ambitious high-concept visuals ("Expect greatness," she promises PAPER).
Beyond delivering an aerial fantasy, the "Stroke" video sees IV4 washing an enamored customer's sedan (and pouring more soap on her body than the car itself); later, she rides a mechanical bull in front of a store, called "Quickee," and eventually ends up in a teen-inspired bedroom, writhing around pastel pink sheets. "I wanted to give you iconic statement pieces," she says of the different characters.
Below, PAPER catches up with the rising Creole star to talk about sexuality, vodun... and the "Stroke" video extra who took a tab of acid before filming.
You've previously described your sexuality as "yes." How does that perspective and openness impact a song like "Stroke"?
I do describe my sexuality as "yes." Being comfortable with your sexuality and yourself in all other aspects gives confidence. It allows me to feel the song and radiate that sexy, playful energy.
There are a lot of major looks throughout the video. What excites you most about style and what did you want to bring out fashion-wise through this visual?
I've always loved playing dress-up ever since I was younger. I've always had a taste for drama. Style is exciting because it's interpretive and an art. Being able to change up my style allows me to give a sneak peek of the attitude and emotion I'm feeling on the inside — the cherry on top of whatever character I'm giving at the moment. I wanted to give you iconic statement pieces.
How long were you tied up in silks for filming? What was the preparation and process like for that piece of this production?
Thankfully, I wasn't strung up too long. I have an aerial silks instructor that I had been practicing with for the past few months to learn some poses and tricks. We ended up only using the one still shot, but it is a physically demanding art-form — not to mention I did it in seven-inch heels. My legs were sore for days. The director and crew tried a few things out themselves, so it was fun to see everyone get involved.
What was it like collaborating with Jeremih?
Every time I work with Jeremih it's a movie. He's super collaborative and extremely talented. I feel like I learn something new every time we create music. This song was such a vibe, and once Jeremih laid his vocals down I knew it was a smash. Me with my ethereal falsettos and Jeremih with the sultry runs, it was a no-brainer.
Behind the scenes
What was your favorite scene to film?
The car wash scene. I've seen so many "hot girl" tropes in movies with slow-motion walks and car wash scenes, and I always wanted to do one in real life. I got to show off some of my dance moves and use the choreography I've been fake practicing in the mirror for whenever this opportunity would arise [laughs].
How do you think this release reflects you as an artist, right now?
This release shows quality and growth. I've only dropped a few songs since being a signed artist and each song, video, feature, and mix gets better and better. People get to see more of my creative vision, the work and dedication I put in, and how much of a vibe the songs are.
Did the actor in this video actually pop a tab of acid before filming?
100%! I think he believes he was doing it on the low, but once it hit him there was no hiding it. The song and performances transported him to a whole different world.
In addition to your company, NAKED VOODOO, what's your relationship with voodoo, right now? In the past, you've compared it to manifestation. Did that play a role in this release, at all?
Vodun is a part of my culture, a part of my heritage and is very misrepresented in media. I don't like to speak too much about it publicly. I do believe it plays a big role in everything I do. I feel like manifesting what you want to see in your life is as simple as speaking it into existence, and taking that leap which is what I do every day. Also, it never hurts to have the right offerings on your altar.
How is "Stroke" a preview of what's coming next from you?
I'm releasing my first project, Get Rich and Cry Trying; "Stroke" is the first single from the EP to release. This record goes to show the tone of the project, the quality and impressive visual aspects that are soon to follow. Expect greatness.
Behind the scenes
Photo courtesy of Dak (Daniel Kestenbaum)