Copyright 1993 Billboard Publications, Inc.
May 29, 1993
SECTION: MUSIC VIDEO; Artists & Music; Pg. 41
LENGTH: 603 words
HEADLINE: (Re)introducing Aimee Mann;
Artist Sheds Old Persona For New Clip
BYLINE: BY DEBORAH RUSSELL
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES
She's not the typical woman one ordinarily sees in music video. She's fully clothed, she wears little makeup, and she's got a sense of humor.
Her name is Aimee Mann, and her debut solo video, "I Should've Known," is an offbeat celebration of the freedom that comes with the end of a bad relationship.
The Imago Records clip, directed by Katherine Dieckmann, entered MTV's "buzz bin" rotation May 17. The scene opens on a casually clad Mann collecting the possessions of a former lover -- jockstrap and all -- running out into the snow, lighting a bonfire, and prancing about with a bottle of champagne.
"It's unusual to see a woman in a video who isn't portrayed as a bimbo or as some 'tough chick,'" says Dieckmann, who shot the video with producer Sandra Tait for Cascando Studios in New York.
And in this video, Mann portrays no one but herself.
It's a switch from the persona she had created as the lead singer of 'Til Tuesday, and puts the final touch on her re-entry onto the video airwaves after a hiatus from the public eye presented a challenge for both the artist and the director.
After an initial "fireplace summit," during which the two realized they shared a similar outlook on life, Dieckmann and Mann proceeded to conceptualize the clip.
"Aimee wanted to break out of the whole 'Til Tuesday image of the heartbroken, lovesick girl raging about relationships," Dieckmann says. "So we decided to treat this breakup with some black humor. I was pushing more of the angry woman thing with the whole burning of the boyfriend's stuff, but Aimee wanted it to be funny, like 'thank you; you did me the biggest favor by leaving.'"
Mann truly is flying solo in the video; she is the only person who appears on screen. Dieckmann and a skeleton crew spent two days shooting the charming low-budget clip in an empty house on a like outside the director's hometown of Ithaca, N.Y.
"We wanted to shoot down south and have a spring feeling," Dieckmann says. "But then we got hit with the storm of the century and we couldn't really go anywhere that wasn't covered in snow anyway."
Icy exteriors feature a freezing Mann riding a bicycle, playing air guitar, and planting artificial sunflowers in a thigh-high snowbank.
Her only true co-stars in the clip are a trio of Charlie McCarthy dummies, which happen to come from her own collection. In fact, most of the props in the video, except a specially created Monopoly-esque board game named "Monobstacle," were culled from Mann's possessions or from the belongings of crew members, friends, and other Ithaca locals.
"As a director, I am very into putting people into a situation in which they feel comfortable, so I always encourage them to wear their own clothes and bring things from home," says Dieckmann.
Instead of using shadows, distortion, and thick, layered images, Dieckmann chose to focus on clean, minimal images shot mostly in natural light.
"I like to see what's going on in the picture," she notes, adding that she and Mann discovered early on that they shared a "fetish" for closeups, toys, objects, and words. During the chorus, Mann sings the words, "dot, dot, dot," and Dieckmann says, "We had a ball riffing on that whole thing, collecting objects and words to illustrate it.
"Aimee is an extremely intelligent and funny woman" she adds, "and that hadn't come through in her public persona until now."
The Mann clip is one of about 10 videos Dieckmann has reeled since making her directorial debut with R.E.M.'s "Stand." Other credits include videos for New Order, Indigo Girls, and Throwing Muses.
GRAPHIC: Photo, Video director Katherine Dieckmann, directs Aimee Mann in the Imago Records video "I Should've Known." Dieckmann shot the clip in mid-March outside Ithaca, N.Y. Jim Leavitt