Partial Recall: An Overly Philosophical, but Short, Memoir about Music Videos

Growing up in the late 90s and early aughts, music videos were such an important part of my life. I would spend whole days in my summer vacation watching Fuse and MTV2, soaking up as much as I could. It wasn’t just the music that captivated me, but the entire visual aesthetic that bands would create to represent their music. It was the storytelling, the creation of a total, pure artistic expression. Somewhere in that young mind, I knew or was in the process of knowing, that I would create music videos one day.

It would be a long time before I did and it would be in a less-than-rockstar fashion. I was working for a furniture company as their creative lead and we thought it would be an interesting approach to content creation. What kind of furniture store made music videos, after all?

So, I wrote a kind of David Berman-esque song — deadpan vocals, lazy chord progression, catchy hook — about a furniture salesman not being able to sell furniture in the beginnings of the pandemic. I threw together a simple drum-loop and poppy bass line. We had a jingle in the course of an afternoon.

I didn’t really know what all went into a music video outside of what looked cool, but I had. team of creative powerhouses. One of our marketing team members had a pretty sweet camera and had done a few videos in Hawaii. Another had an intimidating amount of knowledge about video production (and was great at bringing my lofty, high-production ideas down to earth).

We took a day to gather as much materials as possible shooting in and around the furniture store. It took all day in the blistering sun, but eventually we were able to call it a wrap. I looked forward to seeing how our team member would pull together a final edit with all the rad footage we’d spent the day creating.

But, as fate would have it, he wasn’t very good at editing. His footage was super dope, but for whatever reason — whether lack of drive or vision — he faltered at a crucial step. This left the the project in my hands. A frustrating position, certainly, but I knew the basics of video editing. I ended up calling one of my old fraternity brothers to walk me through the basics of Adobe Premiere and he gave me a rough path to work through.

Often, challenges like these teach us what we’re capable of and can give us a new direction. At that point, I hadn’t even picked up a camera, and I wouldn’t for about year. It would be another year or so after picking up a camera that I started to play with the idea of making videos. In the last year or so, I’ve made tons of video content for clients, my friends, my students, and my bands — it’s a major part of my personal, creative, and professional life.

Recently — like earlier this week — I directed, performed in, and will be editing a music video for an upcoming single for my band Merlock. Initially, this article was supposed to be about how much I’d learned about video production in the last year or so — but I realized, as I wrote, that this project was an inevitability in my life. Not the culmination of year’s hard work learning how to use a camera or how to light a scene or how to use Davinci Resolve, but rather the culmination of a lifetime.

I often think on this kind of melodramatic Anne Rice quote from The Vampire Lestat. Discussing the eternity of a vampiric lifespan, Lestat says: “None of us really changes over time. We just become more full what we’ve always been.” Some might read this with a sense of hopelessness and despair; I read it with a sense of teleological assuredness. That is: everything we encounter is leading us somewhere we’ve always wanted to go — we just need to remember how to get there.

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