Waking up in the cramped trunk of a sedan is a pretty brutal metaphor for feeling trapped in a relationship. Singer/songwriter Tei Shi staggers out of that claustrophobic prison at the start of her “How Far” video, looking for an escape that’s always just out of reach.
"'How Far' talks about the process of attempting to change one another in a relationship, and the final desperate point— the last attempt— before acceptance," she explained in a recent interview with The Fader.
In the newly released video, the car, a pristine, powder blue ‘70s classic, represents that relationship. No matter how far Tei Shi is able to limp, no matter how deep her wounds (artfully depicted by wool spilling out of her shirt), the phantom car keeps following her. At a few points, we see a man behind the wheel, but he’s not presented as the pursuer— the car, Tei Shi’s antagonist, clearly has a mind of its own.
Taken from her upcoming debut album, Crawl Space, “How Far” begins as just the sort of R&B-inflected, gossamer pop we’ve come to expect from Tei Shi, but it builds into something much fiercer. The bass revs up just as the car roars back to life, spindly guitar lines gradually increase the sense of dread, and in the last 90 seconds, Tei Shi absolutely lets loose. She screams into the camera, distortion hanging onto the ends of her words, in a last-ditch attempt to rage against the machine.
Despite her best attempts, Tei Shi ends up asleep on the hood as the day’s light fades. It’s a better bed than the trunk, but one wonders how long it will be before she’s back in the relationship’s darkest, dingiest quarters.
As she herself puts it, “How far can it take me before it forsakes me?”