Melanie C makes a surprise appearance in Tunstall's latest clip

By Nolan Feeney
September 13, 2016 at 03:55 PM EDT
Gabriel Olsen/WireImage; Mike Marsland/WireImage

“Have you ever wanted to be an apocalyptic trash rally car driver?” That’s the question Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall posed to Melanie “Sporty Spice” Chisholm when it came time to cast her new video for “Hard Girls,” a track from her just-released fifth album KIN. “‘If you’d like a moment of taking off your driver helmet, letting your hair down, and looking sassy as f—, this is for you,'” Tunstall told her. Chisholm’s answer? “Hell yeah, I’m there 100 percent.”

The video was conceptualized and directed by Chris Turner, who previously directed Tunstall’s videos for “Made of Glass” and “Invisible Empire” videos. (She jokingly calls the latter her Game of Thrones audition: “I was fighting a knight in armor with swords and carrying fire!”) But Tunstall and Chisholm have an even longer history. The two musicians first met a decade ago at Tunstall’s agent’s birthday party and have stayed friends ever since.

“It was one of those friendships where you feel like you’ve known each other forever,” Tunstall tells EW. “We were just immediately on the dance floor cutting up a rug. She’s extraordinary. I don’t know how she’s kept her head through everything that she’s been through, but she’s the most down-to-earth, good-hearted person. And so much fun—she has the best laugh.”

Initially, Tunstall tried to assemble a gang of women for the video’s derby race, including fellow musician Kate Nash and actress Freida Pinto, but scheduling issues kept them from taking part in the fun. There were other challenges, too: Tunstall’s vehicle didn’t have functioning doors, so her stunt driver helped her practice going in and out through the windshield; meanwhile, Chisholm dealt with a wardrobe malfunction on her vintage red leather bodysuit. “The zipper went all the way up the ass in the back,” Tunstall recalls. “At one point in the car she was like, ‘Guys, I’m going to need a blanket!’ It had bust. But she was like, ‘Whatever, pin me in, let’s carry on!’”

Skin-tight leather outfits, believe it or not, actually played a central role in the song’s origin story. Tunstall was inspired to write “Hard Girls” two years ago after attending a friend’s electronic music concert, where she stuck out from all the many concert-goers dressed in black leather, PVC, and bondage gear.

“People looked amazing, and I’m in no way dissing people for expressing themselves,” Tunstall says. “But at the same time, you feel like there’s an armor being put on, where you present yourself in the way you would like to be. The song is really about celebrating being vulnerable and allowing yourself to not always put yourself across as this hard-rock girl who drinks too much and swears all the time and gets crazy every Saturday night, or this guy who has to be macho and present himself in a way he thinks he’ll be accepted by other people. It’s really about losing your sh— and allowing yourself to be who you are.”

With a message like that, Tunstall says, Chisholm was the perfect person to make a cameo. “She’s the same as me in that we’re both very inclusive and open-hearted people,” she explains. “Showering the podium with champagne rather than standing on it was really deliberate: It’s about not involving yourself in the competition. It’s more about friendship.” You know, Girl Power.