A hidden gem from the frozen heart of Toronto, ON, art school dropout and Sony Music Publishing artist La Faute (aka Peggy Messing) is releasing her lead single and music video, “Blue Girl Nice Day,” from the forthcoming debut album of the same name. La Faute is Messing‘s dark, dreamy solo project. A visual artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter originally from Winnipeg, MB, she explores themes of surface vs. depth, longing, betrayal, mourning and desire.
“Blue Girl Nice Day” was inspired by the Milgram Experiments of the 60s, in which subjects were told to give ever-increasing electric shocks to a “learner” who had to repeat word pairs: Blue/Girl, Nice/Day, Slow/Dance, Sweet/Taste etc. Subjects were shaken to find that they would obey an authority figure and give lethal shocks to the learner, following orders even against their own conscience. The song reflects on how easily we can betray and hurt each other, and how we don’t necessarily know ourselves and what we are capable of. Dive into our Video Voyageur with La Faute, below!
1. Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically?
The song was first inspired by the Milgram experiment, this infamous social psychology experiment from 1961. It’s such a weird story. Volunteers thought they were assisting in a study about the effects of punishment on learning, and were told they’d be playing “teacher” by giving increasing electric shocks to the “learner” in the next room. I doubt the participants gave it much thought at first, as they were reassured by the experimenter in the suit and white lab coat that this was all perfectly normal. The teacher was taught to use a fake but official-looking shock generator, labeled from “Slight Shock” to “Danger: Severe Shock”. I wonder how many participants started to have doubts when they were led into the room to watch the learner be strapped into the special electrical chair with restraints.
The other participant, the learner, was played by an actor. They had to memorize and repeat word pairs : Blue/Girl Nice/Day Slow/Dance Sweet/Taste Soft/Hair Sharp/Needle Blunt/Arrow True/Story, and they always made mistakes. The true subject of these experiments was our volunteer doling out the shocks. I wonder what went through their minds as they increased the voltage higher and higher, while the learner cried out in pain, out of sight in the next room. Sometimes the learner would complain that they wanted to stop, that they had a heart condition, and would bang on the wall. Later, after the highest shocks, the learner would go quiet. I thought the words were so sweet and simple, like a little kid’s poem, but there’s a sharp needle at the end that hints at what else is going on.
The experiment found, surprisingly, that almost everyone would obey the authority figure and give extremely high, even fatal amounts of electric shock to the learner. Some subjects were visibly upset while complying with the instructions, and some were unbothered. After the true nature of the experiment was revealed to the subjects, they were thanked, paid a small fee and sent on their way. Many of them were shaken for the rest of their lives as a result of the experience.
I’m still thinking about this story, and what it means for how we care for and hurt each other, and how we surprise ourselves.
2. What was the inspiration behind this video(visuals, storyline, etc.)?
I didn’t want to make a literal visual reenactment of this experiment in the music video, the larger themes were just humming in my mind along with some events from my own life. I will say that the pandemic and illness and the ties and responsibility we have to each other was on my mind as I created the images of making my own bed and lying in it. How are we taking care of each other, how are we hurting each other during this time, or anytime. I had a stretch of a few years where I was quite physically sick, and was often in bed for many hours a day as I tried to find a way to recover, and adapt to the new normal. I noticed that for others sometimes you are out of mind when you are out of sight. That experience has been very eye opening to me, about how fragile we are. I guess everyone finds this out one way or another.
Looking back on that time is like a weird dream, where I saw the same view from my bed every day, but my mind wandered, out of step with the larger world. In this video I kind of represented that visually by putting the bed outside on a stormy day. I set it up in an empty field in a hydro corridor, one of the only parks that was open during the early part of the pandemic. At the end I filmed myself getting out of bed and getting distance from it, hoping I don’t have to go back to that time. I am shaken by the experience and what I’ve learned from it. I’m walking backwards in a lot of the shots but I filmed them walking forwards, so in my head I know it’s very possible I could go either way.
3. What was the process of making this video?
This is the funny part of the story, if you’ve made it this far. Picture me in a long white dress and a parka, pulling a busted three-wheeled kid’s wagon loaded with a giant folding bed, a tripod and some dumbells past a team of soccer players, through a muddy field and up a giant hill. Oh I was also dragging 2 big garbage bags with an inflatable mattress and all the blankets and sheets. I was so tired at the top of the hill I was glad I had thought to bring a bed! Then I sat there for a while in my dress pumping up the mattress as curious dog walkers wandered by. I shot everything myself on my phone, and I’m sure it all looked as ridiculous as it sounds. Luckily the weather was so cold and windy I was mostly on my own out there, and I feel like this is either an embarrassing story or it’s ART. I guess it’s both.