An Eerie Food Fight Erupts In Kate Vargas' 'This Affliction' Video: Premiere

Kate Vargas
Jared Roybal

Kate Vargas

You might notice that Kate Vargas is the only person untouched by baked goods from the food fight in the video for her new track "This Affliction," premiering exclusively below. And she felt a bit guilty about that.

"I realized that about halfway through the shoot; I felt like a bad friend, 'cause it was all my friends who were in the video," Vargas tells Billboard. "But they were super good sports. And we didn't have a whole lot left over at the end for them to gang up on me with, so I got out of there relatively unscathed."

"This Affliction" appears on Vargas' just-released third album, For The Wolfish & Wandering. The song itself is "really morbid," according to the New York-based singer-songwriter, inspired by the 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Fla., in which Omar Mateen killed 49 people. "It was so upsetting, obviously horrific and had such an impact that the first two verses came out pretty immediately that same week," Vargas recalls. She was particularly drawn to the hateful messages Mateen posted on social media before the attack.

"I was reading these articles about how he was struggling with his own sexuality," she says, "and (the attack) just struck me as such an extreme reaction to a personal struggle. It got me thinking about the ways in which we experience our personal struggles in the age of social media and how we kind of post everything and everything's public. So the themes are really the way we present ourselves and the public expression of discord and how we react to those displays and the way our environment affects us. It's very, very dark, that song."

For the "This Affliction" video, however, Vargas and director Alejandra Parody "didn't want it to be super morbid, so we lightened it up a bit. It's still a public expression of aggression; We just chose to use pies and cakes and things and it just turns into a crazy mess. And at the end I sit back down and we go about our meal as if nothing really happened -- but of course everyone's covered in food, so the mess hasn't gone away."

The rest of For the The Wolfish & Wandering, produced by Magnetic Fields mainstay Charles Newman, is equally serious -- "There's a lot of inner turmoil, I'd say, as the overarching theme of the album," Vargas acknowledges -- but the set's real linchpin is sonic. Prior to recording Vargas purchased a 1949 Marveltone guitar, whose dusty, resonant sound provided the center from which the album's 10 tracks were built.

"It's kind of a mystery guitar," Vargas says. "No one knows much about it, and it has this really quirky sound. There's a lot of character in this guitar, and I wanted to mold the album around the sound of the guitar and some percussion -- using chains and milk jugs and things like that. That was the basis of the sound I wanted. I wanted it to be raw." Vargas, who's headed to Europe for a tour in September, also altered her creative process a bit to add to the more urgent spirit of For the Wolfish & Wandering.

"I didn't want to be so precious about the writing for it or anything, which I tend to do," Vargas notes. "I tend to pore over these things to try to get it perfect. But I wanted to avoid that as much as I could this time. The whole process was really quick; When I signed on the dot with Charles Newman I had five tunes, so I was writing while we recorded, and that was a really good exercise for me because I was forced to not be too precious about it. I'd have to finish a song in a weekend, which is super rare for me. So it was totally different, but that's what I wanted, too."