“’Rat Race’ is a song borne out of anger towards those who abuse power,” Talia Stewart explains. “I wrote it with several men in mind who have done so to me. I wanted to address them and reverse their perceived dominance.”
Written, directed, and produced by Stewart herself, the Nashville-based dark pop artist custom-built a human-sized hamster wheel and trained rats for two months to create the visual for her gritty new single. The effort is on full display in an accompanying behind-the-scenes reel released on Friday.
“This video was the most logistically challenging video I’ve made to date,” she admits. “My google search for ‘giant human hamster wheel’ didn’t yield any promising results, so we had to custom make it. As for the rats, initially I thought I could get away with picking them up the day before the shoot and returning them the day after, but after talking to my costume designer who’s owned a few, I realized I was going to have to socialize and train them. We spent almost two months training these rats to be comfortable around me, my costumes, loud music, and bright lights. Now they’re fully trained and accompany me to shoots pretty often.”
An Orange County, California transplant, Stewart has carved a niche for herself as a self-propelled indie performer, turning out elaborate visuals and orchestrating collaborations with artists like Taylor Bennett (the younger brother of Chance the Rapper). While her new single is a departure from her more elaborate production style, Stewart remains consistent in tackling themes of empowerment, addiction, and heartbreak with her signature torch-inspired vocals and compelling artistry.