Giselle is an up-and-coming New York-based pop artist, who has received attention with the Not Ready to Grow Up mixtape, which was released last fall — but far and away, the highlight of the mixtape is the incendiary Adam Tilzer-produced single “Fuck ’em. Brand ’em. Leave ’em.” The track is centered around a sparse, dusty and production featuring an old-timey strummed blues guitar figure and stomping drumming paired with the mononymic pop artist’s boozy pop star belter vocals, which will draw some comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Heartless Bastards‘ Erika Wennerstom. Much like those two insanely accomplished vocalists, Giselle’s vocals express an aching and earnest vulnerability, a quiet yet defiant and resolute pride and strength that seems to belie her relative youth.
Unsurprisingly, the song’s earnest nature comes from lived in personal experience — in this case, the horribly misguided, inappropriate and fucked up advice Giselle received from an adult she knew, when she was a young girl. “This was a person I’d spent so much time with growing up,” Giselle explains in press notes. “As I
started to get older, I started noticing that he’d bring different women around all the time and my curiosity began to grow. ‘Why did they all have the same tattoos? Why were there so many of them?’ When I questioned it, he told me exactly what the song opens with: ‘I fuck’em, I brand’em, and then I leave’em.’ These women would literally get tattoos with his name or symbols dedicated to him and he treated them as if they were disposable. Ironically, he thought he was trying to teach me a lesson… But the lesson I learned was much different.”
The Meghan Ianiro-produced official video, which I have the pleasure and honor of premiering on this site, draws from Giselle’s childhood — in particular, the moment that actually inspires the song, and as the Ianiro says in press notes, “I wanted to really highlight a stark contrast between childhood trust and innocence, and the harsh reality of growing up and seeing how dark the world can be sometimes, which is the very essence of Not Ready To Grow Up itself. The scene sequence of a young Giselle innocently being given a friendship bracelet, for example, while one of the objectified women is being given a diamond necklace, or the scene of her playing with two female dolls and one male doll, are moments that I wanted to capture in order to make the presence of those two distinct-but-coexisting realities palpable.” Interestingly along with that, the video makes a couple of point about sex, men and their relationships with women that’s — well, undeniable: most men can manage to be both tender and kind to someone who they’d never have anything more than a platonic or familial relationship with, and they can be scumbags with everyone else.