Alright – so many of you have probably seen our Kickstarter in the last few months, possibly our Trailer? Or maybe our first video “Driftwood.” And all of those things are part of my new “Visual Concept Album!”
But in talking to my family over the past few weeks, I realized there are a few friends and family members (leaving age out of the conversation...), and maybe many other people out there who have no idea what I’m talking about when I say that! So I just thought I’d take a little chance to explain it a little more.
For DECADES, music videos have added something fresh and exciting to the songs we love. Anyone remember the days of TRL?? Man, my friends and I would watch that for hours! And VH1 was one of the best channels to watch late at night. I remember a huge variety of visual styles in these music videos. Some had stories, where something important wasn’t revealed until the very end. Like Coldplay’s “The Scientist” which told the whole story in reverse, and you don’t realize it all started with a car accident until the very end (spoiler alert…). Pretty epic. Or Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” had this epic steam punk, kaldeiscoping animation?!? Also epic in a very different way. Other videos were simple performance videos of a rock band, others were dance videos from pop artists.
Can you remember your favorite music videos? Which ones stick out in your memory??
Now think about how the world of YouTube has revolutionized the music video market. Not only has it become and encyclopedia for these "pre-internet" music videos, it’s now a brand new market where anyone can upload a video from home at any time. We notice a lot of the younger generation is posting their own videos from their bedrooms, and gaining a huge following! All the artists who are making hits on the radio right now (across all genres) likely have music videos for their hits, but I can’t recall a single music video from one of these artists. Maybe it’s just their superfans who watch these music videos, (or perhaps I’m just out of touch). But with the internet, the TV is no longer our only source of music video consumption. Like the radio, we don’t have to be limited by what they show us, we can look up the most obscure bands, see their live videos, see their music videos, even post our own vlog ("video blog" for older folks) about what we think about them! The boundaries are so endless, it almost feels like the music videos are after-thoughts in the industry. Is it too early to say that music videos are starting to go out of style?? (Seriously, if it is, I want to know! Cause I’m not over it yet!).
This EP has been a long process for me. All of these songs started out as acoustic songs (which is why I’m also releasing the Acoustic B-sides too). Once I got interested in producing, it was only natural for me to take songs I knew well (like ones I wrote!) and develop those ideas in Ableton. But once I started, each of those songs became like a whole new world to me. It wasn’t just my story – how a singer-songwriter often tells his/her story in sort of a universal way, it felt like a PLACE. I could see it, I could hear it, and in lacing a group of songs together, I realized they told a story, MY story, but also everyone’s story. And maybe this time, I didn’t have to tell that story with “just” the music, I could also tell a visual story.
I walked into Massif Studios about one year ago, and told them about my ideas. I was overjoyed that they were also inspired, and added so much to my creative vision. It was awesome to get to practice our teamwork with the single “Bombshell” made specially for Bombshell Beauty Salon in Las Vegas. And it was even awesomer to develop this creative vision together for a video series;
all 5 songs on the EP string together to become one seamless video by the end.We got some inspiration from Kanye’s “Runway,” which they called a “full-length film.” Florence + The Machine did something similar called “The Odyssey.” But they aren't traditional "films" as most what think of movies, they are semi-short artistic visions that create a pseudo-world inside the music album. Of course, who can forget Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” and new Frank Ocean’s “Endless.” I admit, I am not the first person to think of this, but I can see that it’s becoming more and more normal.
It’s exciting to me, because in this way, the arts are now becoming collaborative, and that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most about this processIncorporating videography, co-producing with the ideas in my imagination about these songs, and incorporating costuming, makeup, and even stage design into the plots was the most inspiring collaboration! Bringing in different artistic experts, even contemporary dancers allowed other creatives to express themselves through my music. With the props, it was a new opportunity to have creative control in a new way! It’s almost funny because when we started “Driftwood,” I told Hunter & Joey at Massif that I put together a Pinterest board with props I thought would fit the video! And as I’m brainstorming how we should get it done, they were like, of course, YOU do it! And it’s as if I had never thought of that before. Wow, yeah! I can do it! I found a lot of amazing sterling silver props at a Thrift store in Lakewood, CO and I designed some extra homemade dream catchers, sun-catching driftwood pieces, and dried flowers to set the scene for what I envisioned as this little hideout in the woods that I had.
I drew a lot of inspiration for this first video “Driftwood” from “The New World” (2005) about Pocahontas. I loved the cinematography and the incorporation of Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major” has always stuck with me.
I aimed to capture that whimsical, adventurous new world in our trailer and the soundscape made specifically for the trailer.We of course wanted to leave a bit for the imagination at the end of both the trailer and the video, which will be continued in Video 2 set to come out in January 2017.
Specifically speaking, my Visual Concept Album is a story of hopelessness and redemption. As we all navigate the treacherous waters of an unpredictable journey, it’s often
not the things we are prepared to face, but those which we are unprepared that truly catch us off guard. The Album as a whole is of course, meant to be universal and interpreted individually. However, I can say that “Driftwood” is specifically about that calm moment in your life when you know things are sort of too good to be true. It’s when you almost feel that something is about to change, and you can’t say quite what. The visuals represent an innocence, even a naivety, and an enjoyment of freedom in nature. There is a whimsical and curious spirit to the videography as well as the props and costuming we chose. As the ominous door suggests, this fairy tale doesn’t last forever. I notice fairy tales are becoming almost as popular in our culture today as vampires and superheroes. We have not, and may never lose our love of fantasy and adventure. Yet we recognize that this is not reality, and I believe
this entire concept stems from a moment in all of our childhoods were we realize life is not what we thought it was.We long for a childlike freedom in the world, not only from “adult responsibilities,” but from the heavy burdens we never knew life could offer. And now I believe these tales are often our escape.
Although the visuals are whimsical and unburdened, the words reflect those times in our lives where we are almost numb. We don't know how to move forward, and know we cannot go back. All we can say is, “I’ll make it through.” Reminding ourselves, almost as if a mantra, this soon shall pass It’s about going through our day to day and feeling almost nothing, apathetic to things we once loved, perhaps distracted, perhaps full of regret or loathing. Whatever it is, we may feel powerless, we may want to resist change and keep things exactly as they were when we felt free and weightless. And now, as we begin to feel the weight of the heavier things in life, we resist. That is what “Driftwood” embodies to me. Going throughout one’s day, distracted with ordinary, unimportant tasks, but mentally trying to understand the apathy, trying to dissect it and get to its roots, knowing that once we got there, it might be even deeper pain awaiting. Yet there’s no looking back, only going forward.
Although the message of this album may sound dark, let me remind you that there is redemption in the end, as life always ebbs and flows in hills and valleys. I hope that it will offer hope to those who find themselves in dark valleys and are lost and endless seas of confusion. Hope that these times in life that feel like endless centuries of incurable pain, DO in fact soften and heal. I am beyond excited and proud to show you the rest of the video series.
Please feel free to comment, Q&A with me, and ask me anything!Life is a dialogue, and a riddle. Thank you for reading!