“Shotgun 2 My Heart,” the latest track from queer, electropop crooner AYER, delivers on its title—building fast to an earwormy beat that’s like a bullet to your hot zone. The song is danceable, up-tempo, bittersweet, and melancholic, and while it’s stirring up that mix, it’s also evocative of certain bygone sensibilities, which co-directors Rick Day and Steve Benisty latched onto when planning the video.
“We wanted to give a nod to the Madonna-era New York,” says Day (who previously collaborated with AYER on the psychosexual clip for the artist’s “Digital Fantasy”). “That was before you had to be a celebrity or a model to be fucking cool. So we decided we would focus on a set of different characters in the East Village, all of them heading to the dog park. Because the only pure love is the love you get from your dog— speaking wholeheartedly as a dog lover.”
Acknowledging hallowed pop culture grounds, Day, Benisty and their team gathered at the doorstop of Madonna’s first apartment on 4th street, then had a brief moment of silence before commencing production.
As a result, Madge’s spirit seems to bleed its way through the video, be it in the muscular, voguing moves of the legendary House of Ninja; the “Like a Prayer”-style cameos from cloaked gospel singers; or the diva-esque presence of traffic-stopping actress Victoria Beltran, who walks her American Eskimos down the sidewalk while mouthing AYER’s swoony lyrics.
The artist himself, who’s also inspired by nostalgic disco and R&B, and whose debut EP, In My Headphones, was released this year, doesn’t appear in the video—nor in any of his others, for that matter. “I find so many people in New York more fascinating than I am!” AYER says. “And I think by me stepping out of the video, we’re able to tell a more dynamic and inclusive story.”
AYER recently signed a new publishing deal, and he says he’s “going back to the drawing board for [his] sound,” using “resources and time to take [his] music to the next level.” For now, listeners can also take in singles like “Circle Down” and the dreamy “Black Diamond,” and other tracks from In My Headphones, an EP produced by Bram Inscore (Troye Sivan, Beck, Twin Shadow). As for “Shotgun 2 My Heart,” Day says it speaks to how all of us are equally vulnerable to love’s barbs.
“We wanted to express how big and powerful love is” Day says. “And no matter who you are—gay, straight, trans, young, old—love can ultimately hurt. Like a shotgun to the heart.”