If music is an expression of the human condition, music videos are the visualization. Lily DeTaeye’s new music video “Tusk” is a fierce example.
Since the release of DeTaeye’s album BiTe Back, she has been singing about what it means to be a woman in today’s political landscape. Her just-released video “Tusk” is a challenge to men who believe they deserve to be ever dominant.
The song was inspired in 2018 by a federal proposal to expand wild game trophy hunting, which DeTaeye found infuriating. Working with a cohort of Central Iowa roller derby skaters and tapping into her own childhood enjoyment of roller skating, DeTaeye and her band took to the rink to play a powerful rock anthem.
“Tusk” is stark. We’re reminded that we’re all animals and none – least of all women – should be underestimated. It was at a little over a minute into the video when that theme fully sunk in for me.
If you cue up the video to 1:08, one of the derby skaters is seen dancing from behind. When she turns, you realize she’s not just dancing on skates. She’s a predator protecting her territory. Her bright blue lipstick isn’t a costume. It is war paint. Later in the video you see a bloodied finger being taped up.
“Women are tough; you don’t want to mess with them,” says DeTaeye.
That bloodied finger was broken during the shoot. After the injury happened, the derby skater yelled for the crew to tape her up, so she could keep skating.
During filming, the song's message resonated for the roller derby skaters too, “…it got you going in your head. You wanted to hit hard. You felt the meaning behind the song,” said skate coordinator and derby skater Kari Gladson.
This music video, much like roller derby, is a powerful reminder that women live full lives with day jobs and families, often being the rock in their assigned role. That means they can (and have to) kick ass and sometimes get bloody.
Women’s strength and fortitude is something to behold, and this video bites back against other narratives.