Radiohead released their sinister-beneath-a-whimsical-facade animated video for “Burn the Witch” on Tuesday and according to animator Virpi Kittu, its darker approach was part of a deeper take on Islamophobia and the refugee crisis in Europe. In an interview with Billboard, Kittu said her interpretation was that the band wanted to call attention to the crisis and the “blaming of different people… the blaming of Muslims and the negativity.”
She said that misguided outlook might lead some to thoughts such as “burn the witch.” Radiohead had sent mysterious leaflets to some fans that housed the words, “We know where you live,” which the animator alluded to as suggesting, according to Billboard, “the current insecurity and blame game spawned by anti-immigration politicians.”
Kittu, who also worked on the band’s “There There” alongside director Chris Hopewell, said the uneasy juxtaposing of the cute stop-motion animated characters against the sinister themes portrayed in the video and in the song was what the band wanted conveyed. “They wanted the video to contrast with what they’re playing and to wake people up a bit.”
She also discussed the video’s other influences, including the British series Camberwick Green and the 1973 British horror movie The Wicker Man.
“Burn the Witch” is presumably the first single from Radiohead’s forthcoming ninth studio album. The title’s phrase appeared in Radiohead’s 2003 Hail to the Thief artwork.
While the band has not released details on their next album, which is the follow-up to 2011’s The King of Limbs, they have plotted a handful of North American tour dates, including shows in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City, along with festivals dates at Lollapalooza, Osheaga and Outside Lands.