JesusWired Interview With Samuel Day about The Roses Debut Music Video
Tomorrow at noon est we will be exclusively premiering Samuel Day’s debut music video for “The Roses,” the first song he ever released back in January 2013. The video took a long time to make and features a lot of items and people which have been an integral part of Samuel Day’s life. As Samuel Day explains in his first blog, “There’s an old saying that goes ‘Give them the roses while they’re here.’ Or something like that. But the basic sentiment is to let the people in your life know that you love and appreciate them while they’re on this earth, and not wait until the funeral.”
The video really means a lot to Samuel Day, and the amount of effort which went into it is phenomenal, so you really don’t want to miss this wonderful piece of art. I recently had the chance to interview Samuel about the video so read on below to dive head on into the video and find out about all the special items, the concept behind the video and much more.
[JW] Could you share about the story behind the song The Roses?
[SD] I’d love to! The lyrics to the song are actually a a mix of very direct as well as general reference to events in my family’s lives. The first verse is actually a lot more specific than people might think. My mom told me the story about how not long after I was born, she had this private moment where she just kind of brought me home from the hospital and cried over this infant she now had, knowing how big of a responsibility it was. Sometimes I wish more parents would realize that the way she did. The line “Remember how hard they tried to bring the waters rushing in, and make beginning be our end? And you denied” is a direct reference to how she and the rest of the family fought for custody of me after a pretty jarring divorce. Without going into too much detail, if they wouldn’t have done that there are a lot of places I could have ended up. The rest of the song really kind of deals with a lot of the challenges we’ve gone through. With my Grandma as the Pastor of my church, I’ve got a very unique relationship with her and that whole dynamic. There are a lot of challenges behind the scenes that most people don’t really think about when it comes to being in leadership or in a leadership family. I could fill up a whole book with that stuff, about the victories as well as the REALLY hard times we have gone through in private, but for the sake of keeping this interview at a reasonable length, I’ll let the lyrics do the talking for now! But the bottom line is that example of consistency and character is something that they always taught me to move forward with, regardless of what anyone else says or does, and I wanted to honor them for that while also just making cool video.
[JW] It seems rather fitting that your debut music video should be for your debut single, but what made you decide your first music video was going to be for The Roses?
[SD] It was kind of everything coming full circle. While I’m always working on new music, I really believe in the first few songs that I came out with, and I think video is a cool way to rejuvenate those and bring them to the front again in a new way. With The Roses, it also seemed appropriate through the lens of Ephesians 6:2-3. A lot of the work that my family has done in their lifetime hasn’t been glamorous, so I thought it would be cool to cement their legacy in a glamorous way.
[JW] How did you come up with the concept for the music video?
[SD] I honestly fought with myself when it came to both this song and this video. In both cases I wanted to create something beautiful and heartfelt, but I didn’t want it to be cheesy. I think it came out really well in both cases, if I may say so! I had seen other works where people paid homage to important moments or people in their lives with the integration of different elements, but I wanted to really push it to another level that was more pointed and focused. So I thought, what would the inside of my mind look like where these memories are concerned? How would that “mind palace” or “soul pavilion” be illustrated as a place? That’s basically the overall concept for the whole thing.
Originally there were going to be other parts to the video. I love music videos with a storyline, so I planned for an opening scene that was basically supposed to illustrate how my family was there to support me and my music in times when it seemed like no one else really cared. It culminated in me performing, closing my eyes and then suddenly being in this “Soul Set” inside my mind, which is where the bulk of the video takes place. I had even thought about things progressing to a bigger stage at the end to show growth and trajectory. There were actually some arrangements with a venue to shoot that part.
But ultimately I decided against all that for a few reasons. The most basic being that after I saw the footage we got on the Soul Set, I realized there was already plenty to work with. I think for this video too, I wanted to focus more on the triumph than the struggle. While it’s important to be honest about what we’ve been through in order help others and glorify God for how far we’ve come, it didn’t seem necessary to go into the nitty-gritty here. Finally, from a practical standpoint (and even though I love story), I thought it may not be the best idea for my first music video to have 60 seconds of exposition before the music even started. I thought it was best to get people’s attention more immediately this time around.
[JW] I understand that a lot of work went into this music video, how long did it take from start to finish? And what was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome with making it?
[SD] You know there were a lot of challenges when you have a hard time picking which one was the biggest! All things considered, this video really took over a year to come to fruition. I’m counting within that the time I spent training my own camera crew. A big shout out to Melissa (Missy) Smith and Austin Newman for being willing to work with me and learn something they had never done before!
There was a lot of preparation involved. I spent inordinate amounts of time experimenting with gear, learning stuff on forums and from youtube, and then planning. Planning what needed to be bought, who needed to be networked, when we could do test shoots, etc. There was also prepping all of the flashback footage, which took months in itself. After the shoot there was about 4 months of work in post-production due to a bunch of technical difficulties that I won’t go into here. There were times where I wondered how it was ever going to get done in any reasonable time. I think THAT was biggest hurdle. But honestly, I thank God for giving me the connections so that everything was able to come together, as well as the resources and ability to even do the work. We sometimes don’t realize how much we are able to do is because of His grace.
[JW] The video is well done, did you do all the shooting and editing yourself or did someone else do that?
[SD] So as I said before, big thanks to Missy Smith and Austin Newman for being the camera crew on this shoot, and being willing to let me teach and direct them! Missy is a visual artist (check out her site at http://www.melissareneeart.com/) and Austin is a firefighter, so they didn’t really have much prior experience in this, if any, and I appreciate that they stepped up to help. To answer the second half of your question, yes, I did shoot a chunk of the video as well, and I also did the editing in post.
[JW] At the end of the video there’s a clip of you as a child saying that you’d let your family see everything you ever did musically, what was their feedback like when they saw the new video?
[SD] My family sort of slowly got an understanding of this video as it was going through production. I hadn’t really gone over it with them because I wanted at least some elements to be a surprise, even thought they had been there on set for the shoot. When I first let them watch a rough cut it was the flashback footage got them talking the most, specifically that last scene you mentioned. Again, here comes the theme of things coming full circle.
That snippet is what really got them emotional (TOUCHDOWN!), and they looked at me and said, “All the way back then, you prophesied your own future.” I’m glad I found that clip, and I plan on following through on what I said in it.
[JW] There are lots of items and people in this video which mean a lot to you and have been a big part of your life. I obviously won’t ask you this about the people, but which item featured in the video means the most to you or was the most important part of your life growing up?
[SD] That’s a hard one! So I think that would be pretty much anything that came from Germany, specifically my Great Grandfather’s cane. I see you have a question about that later on, so I won’t go into too much detail about it here except to say that it was one of the first gifts that ever made me cry. Which was especially weird to me because he gave it to me when I was very young (in my single digits). My reaction surprised me. Usually being given anything I would have went “Woah! Cool!” and then ran off to play superhero in the next room or something, but for some reason when he gave me that cane my young age didn’t stop be from seeing the gravity in it. Especially since there were two other generations of people he could have given it to. Maybe it was the fact that it meant he wasn’t going to be adding any more plates to it; it was my turn to go see the world and get my own badges.
[JW] In fact, let’s go through each of the significant items and people in the video one by one and share each story with our readers, if you’re up for that?
[SD] Oh yeah absolutely.
[JW] Cool, let’s start off with the dresser, is that your dresser?
[SD] It IS my dresser! It’s been in my room literally my whole life, and it’s much older than I am. There’s a lot of history in that thing, as with a lot of things in our house, and that’s why I included it.
[JW] There’s some cool hats and canes in the video and I understand one of those canes belonged to your great grandfather, tell us about him and these canes/hats…
[SD] So I said a lot about it before, but essentially that’s traditional German hiking gear. The hats are basically folk-hats. As a kid I used to grab one of those all the time and put a mask and cape on and play Zorro (didn’t matter that it wasn’t mexican, I just needed a black hat!)
The canes are pretty special. Basically, every time someone would climb a mountain, or go to a notable city, or visit a cool site, they got a new souvenir plate to hammered onto their cane. It encapsulated a person’s travels. The two canes that appear in the video are the one gave me (which he had for YEARS of his life), and my personal one.
[JW] Your Grandpa’s bike also appears in the video, why’s that significant in your life?
[SD] Grandpa just really enjoys biking. He has multiple bikes, and from the time before my mom was born and all the way through now he’s always enjoyed getting out and riding. He used to buckle me into this kid-seat when I was small and pedal us around town. You can even see that in the music video.
[JW] It’s well known that the saxophone is just one of many instruments you play, but tell us about the story behind that instrument, how you got into it, when you started to learn to play it etc.
[SD] So I actually chose the saxophone for my mom (and myself too, but she was definitely a big factor). I already played the piano and sang, but when I got into middle school band we had to choose and instrument, and for me it was between saxophone and trumpet. All things considered, I’d actually REALLY enjoy to learn the trumpet as well. I love a lot of things about that instrument. But my mom always loved the saxophone, and at that time I knew nothing about either one, so I went with the sax. That decision actually ended up being a lot bigger than I realized, as it became my major instrument in college and led me into playing a lot of jazz during that time.
[JW] A Katana is featured in the video; for those of us who don’t know what on earth a Katana is (including myself!) could you explain what one is and why it’s important to you?
[SD] So a katana is what most people would just call “a samurai sword”. It’s a traditional Japanese sword. I spent a good amount of time in martial arts doing a mixed form of Kenpo, as well as Aikijutsu and Kickboxing. I did some tournaments, and while most of our training didn’t focus around weapons, it did incorporate them to some degree. Truth be told, the katana wasn’t one of the things that our style majored on. But among the martial arts weapons that I have at least a basic working knowledge of, this one seemed like it would be the most noticeable in a video. A bo staff would have just faded into the dark, sai and nunchaku would have been too short. You get the idea.
[JW] The horses statue looks cool, tell us about that.
[SD] So my mom loves horses! She used to ride when she was younger, and I know she’d love to again. This is something I got for her one year at Christmas actually a local Chinese restaurant. The folks who run it are really sweet people and live just a few doors down from us. Mom’s room is full of little statues and figurines, a lot of which are horses, so I thought it would be cool to get her something bold to add to her collection.
[JW] There are a number of little handmade airplanes in the video, did you make them? And if so, how old were you?
[SD] I did not make them, they were actually handcrafted by my Great Uncle Huddle (I believe that is how you spell his name) in a little German village called Possenheim. We visited there when I was a kid, and the exact moment when he gave me those planes actually appears in the flashback footage. Aside from his small farm, he had a whole workshop filled with those things. I’d love to know where some of the other ones he made ended up.
[JW] There are lots of videos from your childhood playing on the screen in the background, how long did it take to select the moments that appeared in the video?
[SD] It took a lot of months to get that together. We have tons of footage from over the years, and my family wanted me to convert all the old tapes to DVDs anyway (which I’m STILL in the process of doing). But the trick was to strategically copy the tapes from certain years and events that would hold the most relevant stuff. Then it came down to combing through them for the right stuff. I was really looking for stuff that said a lot in a short amount of time, AND that contained the right people.
[JW] And last but certainly not least, there are a number of people who appear in the video. Could you share who these people are?
[JW] So now you’ve stepped into the world of music videos…do you have any plans for any others in the near future?
[SD] Most definitely. I believe that music and imagery together are a very powerful thing. Just look at movies! I’ve always admired artists who put out a lot of videos for that reason, and I aim to do the same. I remember Carman used to make a music video for practically EVERY song on his albums, then he would release them all as a special collection. I thought it was really cool. That was my perception of music videos growing up: you make a song, you make a video for it. I thought that was just normal. I know that putting out a TON of videos almost seemed to fall out of style for a while, but it’s kind of resurging now with YouTube. Lindsey Stirling is a great example of an artist that loves to constantly couple visuals with her music, and she’s very active in that sphere. I’m just now seeing things “get going” in that department, but it can only go up from there. I really enjoy filmmaking, acting, and music, so this is a great outlet for all of that. And at the end of the day, I think video can really add a lot of extra meaning and aesthetic to a song, which I think is pretty phenomenal. So yes! I am simmering a few ideas as we speak!
[JW] You’re a talented guy, you sing, you play a huge variety of instruments and you can now shoot, edit and produce your own music videos; is this music video going to take you to the next level and gain a bigger solid following?
[SD] Thank you very much for the kind words! The answer to your question is definitely ‘yes’, I expect things to grow exponentially! I don’t say that to be arrogant, but rather, I say that as an exercise of faith. I look forward to many, many new people getting connected and becoming Reclaimers.
The reason that I want to get this music (and the experiences that come with it) out to a huge number of people is because I believe in the message. I want to get a trajectory of victory into people’s minds, mouths, and lives. I think that’s supposed to be a mark of a Christian, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges or that no one will ever mess up. If you draw breath on a daily basis, you already know there are challenges. But Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19). That’s a pretty bold statement, but it’s a message we are supposed to carry. So I’m looking forward to and eagerly expecting things to grow.
[JW] Thank you Samuel for taking the time to do this interview and for premiering the video with us. We wish you all the best with the video.
[SD] Thank you! I’m really thankful that you were will to partner with me to help make this as big as it can be. Media outlets like yours are a great help to artists like me, so please keep doing what you’re doing!