"After nearly 36 years in business, Fry's Electronics is closing its operations permanently," reads the store's website — a familiar statement, post-pandemic, which follows decades of cult obsession. For those unfamiliar, each location (31 total in multiple states) featured a "different, over the top and unhinged theme," according to pop artist Mary, whose latest release, "I Need U," pays homage to the now-defunct "one-stop shop."
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Filmed in late summer of 2020, just prior to Fry's shuttering, Mary's music video is a trippy, Alice in Wonderland-inspired spectacle. The store's props became Mary's production, from a monster-sized Alice sculpture to playing cards suspended from the ceiling and tons of mushrooms. The result, she says, is "a really rich document of this freaky piece of architectural kitsch," which also doubled as the visual accompaniment to her '90s trance single (produced by The Oracle).
"I hope the video will serve the people who are looking for documentation of that Fry's location later on down the line," Mary continues, honoring a "bygone" era. "Kind of like what the VHS tapes and cellphone videos of defunct Disney rides on YouTube do for me. Making the most out of what is free and available is crucial for me as an artist and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity as far as that goes."
For Mary, the location felt particularly relevant to the time we're living in now. There's tension between the electronic store "nearing extinction" in a society that's shifted almost all our social experiences to the online world of computers it once sold. In the video, Mary, who plays Alice, is running amidst "rows of printer paper and cardboard boxes and logos of increasing irrelevance" in a "deranged, 'we're all mad here' type of way."
Building off our heightened collective consciousness, Mary says "a renewed questioning around the 'real,' specifically as it pertains to technology and contemporary living conditions, is urgent following the dystopian limitations placed on the range of human experience within the last two years." The "I Need U" video, then, flips between reality and fantasy, as the dizzy viewer falls down the rabbit hole alongside Mary.
"Every time I try to define the 'real' it seems to slip away, so much so that I think I'd be better off listing what I suspect is not real," she says. "If I had to get into a ballpark range of what the 'real' might be, I would start with what I am perceiving with my senses in the present moment, including my spidey sense. This release invokes a long line of questions regarding the nature of reality — from literature to film, philosophy and beyond — and interweaves it with another site in which the 'real' is often elusive: love."
The lyrics of "I Need U" explore this even further, expressing an "obsessive and ecstatic love" that feels almost magical. "Let’s take a walk in wonderland," Mary sings on the spastic track, comparing romance to Lewis Carroll's whirlwind narrative. "I'm talking about the type of love where you both disavow everything and everyone who came before," she explains, amplifying that with energetic, unhinged production.
Watch the PAPER premiere of Mary's "I Need U" video, which was edited by Jeremy Franchi, and stream the single, below.
Photo courtesy of Mary
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