Toronto-based indie pop artist Mear (Frances Miller) has released a dreamy new video for the title track of her 2016 EP, The Flood. Watch it below.
The video, premiering exclusively on Aesthetic Magazine, was made over a sleepless 48-hours on a shoestring budget, and deals with befriending your personal demons.
Want more insight into the making of “The Flood” EP and music video? Check out our Q&A with Mear below!
What was the writing/recording process like for “The Flood” music video and EP?
I have been writing and demoing songs on my own for a long time now, but for whatever reason I’ve never prioritized my songwriting and music making in the way I think I’ve always really wanted to deep down. It’s partly been a confidence thing, partly a “how the hell do you make a career of this?” thing. Instead, I’d been pursuing a parallel career of sorts and was in school. Then a few years ago I got mono and after that things started going downhill. As many people who have had mono know, recovery can sometimes spiral into a slow, multi-year process. I lost much of my ability to concentrate and read and I couldn’t be as physically active as I once was. Much of my identity was wrapped up in things I could no longer do and, needless to say, it was a real bummer. School took a back seat and I started to reprioritize. Thankfully, the one thing I could still do was write songs so that’s where I put most of my remaining energy. My friend Robert Purcell, who drums on the EP, invited me to record two songs at Humber Studios with producer Lance Schibler as part of his final recording project in the jazz program there. After receiving a Factor demo grant, we brought in keyboardist Trevor Kai and recorded the next two songs, including “The Flood”, at Imprint Studios. The grant afforded Robert, Trevor and myself the opportunity to work on arrangements at our own pace and make the songs poppy and orchestral and weird. It was a really satisfying process and was kind of healing in its own way.
What kind of themes did you focus on with the EP?
Much of the EP focuses on loss. Each song deals, in part, with a different kind of loss (lost love, loss of strength and self, etc) but the least nebulous of these is probably with the lead track “Old Bones”. “Old Bones” is about the death of a loved one. I found myself struggling to find a way to negotiate what happens after death without religion to fall back on. I wrote “Old Bones” to try and make myself feel better. It’s my imagined version of an afterlife I guess.
What does the title track mean to you?
I wrote “The Flood” after experiencing a really strange weather phenomenon with some of my closest friends while visiting my Grandmother’s cottage. I guess maybe it’s a millennial stereotype at this point but I think most of us were watching the summer blow by while we negotiated our three jobs each or something. We talked a lot about the future, none of us really knowing what we’d be doing next. One evening we were walking down to the beach for a swim and as the lake came into view we noticed the water was covered with a thick, low-hanging fog. When we waded in we couldn’t see so much as a foot in any direction and the water was silver and still. Even though I grew up visiting that beach every summer I’d never seen anything like it and I don’t expect I ever will again. I felt happy and lucky to be experiencing something so unique and beautiful with such special people. The fog was weirdly rejuvenating and I guess the idea of a fog or a “flood” seemed like a good metaphor for embracing fear and moving forward together into the unknown.
How did the video concept for the track come about? What does it mean to you?
I forget exactly where the concept came from. I know Trevor [Kai] and I talked through it a lot and settled on the idea of a monster in a cabin in the woods. Kerry Zentner and Dan Cunningham (DOP) also collaborated with us leading up to the shoot. It stars my little cousin Eileen Cahill who wasn’t quite thirteen when we shot it. When I was her age I would often have really bad nightmares and sleep paralysis. One day, out of desperation, I dreamt up a super scary monster that could fend off the other nightmare creatures for me and help me wake up. It started to appear in my dreams when things got really terrifying, and it would pick me up and toss me back into reality. In the video Eileen’s character is navigating a dream world of sorts too but in this case she has to figure out a way to help the monster escape. Maybe this video is about me returning an old favour. I’m still not totally sure.
Working with artist Kerry Zentner, how did the design of the monster costume come together?
We discussed that the creature had to be frightening but also sympathetic and I think Kerry did an incredible job making that happen in a very low-budget situation. The major design elements were really just about trying to figure out fun things to do with what was at hand (eg. small flashlights and ping-pong balls for eyes, etc). The story somewhat hinges on the creature’s glowing body so finding the right type of lights to weave throughout the costume was critical. Other details, like the long arms and the creepy mask design were all Kerry’s. Honestly, he a magician. The monster is just so cool. I don’t know how he pulled it off.