Theia, one of the most exciting pop voices to emerge from New Zealand in the past five years, has returned with “Celebrity,” the video for which is premiering exclusively on Billboard today (May 13).
“Celebrity” sees Theia (born Em-Haley Walker) reflect on her personal music journey, serving as a middle finger to the individuals who try to pin her down — and hold her back. “If you don’t like it, move on/Get a clue ’cause I’m bored/You’re too old school, it shows/And you know there ain’t no stopping me,” she sings over pounding production. Later, she asserts that any unwarranted opinions can and should be left at the door: “Don’t tell me what to do/Like you’re some celebrity.”
“We are living in a time when young and powerful icons — such as New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Greta Thunberg — are effecting major change on a world scale,” Theia tells Billboard. “‘Celebrity’ is for anyone who’s ever been told to sit down, shut up and toe the line. It’s uplifting, empowering and there’s a sting in the tail.”
The accompanying visual, directed by Nas Nixx, shows Theia in a white dress and shimmering veil — but long claw-like nails help her achieve a look that is, fittingly, more Bride of Frankenstein than blushing newlywed. “It was important to me that the video reflected the dark nature of the song,” the singer-songwriter explains, adding that she and the director connected over Instagram DM. “I adored her ethereal goth fantasy vibe. It’s dark and pure in a powerful way,” she says of Nixx’s style.
The video was shot in Los Angeles with a small crew, just as the city was starting to go into lockdown. Theia, who hails from Christchurch, New Zealand, remembers the process as a “race against time.” But, she says, the experience brought her team closer together. “All of us were like ‘Damn, this might be the last thing we work on for a bit, so let’s just go hard.’”
“Celebrity” completes Theia’s 99% Angel mixtape, which also includes the recently-released tracks “Kitty Cat,” “Frat Boyz” and “99% Angel.”
Get a first look at the video for “Celebrity” below.