Video premiere: Kathryn O’Shea’s “Fall”

STAND ON YOUR OWN: Singer/songwriter Kathryn O’Shea says her new song and video “Fall” encourages individuals to embrace life’s uncertainties and to trust one’s instincts. Photo courtesy of O’Shea

Local singer/songwriter Kathryn O’Shea celebrates the release of her music video, “Fall,” recorded in the Black Balsam area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Local videographer Laura Boswell filmed the shoot. Xpress caught up with O’Shea to discuss the release. Below is the interview, along with the video premiere.

Xpress: Can you speak to the inspiration behind the song?

Kathyrn O’Shea: It’s all about the messy process of finding your voice and healing your wounds. When I wrote this song in 2018, I was in the thick of a really tough breakup and had just moved home to Asheville on a mission to get reacquainted with myself or “tend to my roots,” as the song says. This was also around the time I decided to start sharing my songs on stages instead of just beside campfires. In all honesty, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing; I just had a lot of blind faith and resilience. But I think that’s how all good things start.

I stumbled through that period of time as best I could, just trying to follow my nose and stay honest. This song reflects that stumbling journey. There’s hope there; there’s always hope. It’s just sometimes hidden in a brier patch of all-consuming dread. Sometimes the battle in my head gets loud. Real loud. And I only seem to find relief by learning to discern which side of the battle is fighting for societal expectations and which side is fighting for my instincts. As soon as I can tell them apart, I know to let the instincts win.

What was the process like in storyboarding and selecting the locations for the video?

The video was basically improvised on my end! Laura Boswell, my dear friend and videographer on this project, called me one day and said, “Guess what, I’m learning how to use a drone! We gotta shoot a music video!” So we decided to take it up to Black Balsam and take advantage of the gorgeous views up there. We shot the thing in one day. She showed up with a backpack full of cameras and I showed up with a backpack full of clothes, and we walked the trail up toward the knob, stopping whenever we saw a view we liked. I’d hide behind a rock, put on a different outfit, come out and sing into the camera for a while. Then we’d pack up, hike a while, stop, and do it all again. That area is just magical.

Once we finished at Black Balsam, we got in our cars and drove north on the parkway until we saw bright yellow leaves. That’s when we pulled over and shot the scenes in the forest. I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t quite as pretty for that part, somewhere a little unkempt. We had to go off the beaten path to find the right vibe.

Were there any challenges during the shoot?

All in all, it was a really gorgeous day with very few stumbling blocks. If anything, I’d say my biggest challenge in this process was getting over an internalized belief I struggle with that I am not a “good enough” dancer to be dancing in a music video. For my whole life I’ve loved to dance, but I’ve also been around a lot of highly trained professional dancers and made the mistake of chronically comparing myself to them, which has led to nothing but insecurity.

I actually didn’t plan to do any dancing in this video until the morning of the shoot. I was listening to my song “Fall” on repeat to prepare and memorize the vocal performance in that recording, but I kept getting distracted with making up dances to the song instead. It felt so good and natural that I decided to go out on a limb and dance in the video. I told Laura my plan when we arrived on location, and I’m really glad I did because once the camera was on me, I desperately wanted to chicken out. But with her encouragement and gentle coaxing, I finally got brave enough to dance. And I’m thrilled to report that since making this video, the fear of dancing in public has had a much looser grasp on me.

What do you hope viewers take away from the music video?

Stand on your own, find your voice and keep stumbling through step by step even when it’s dark. You won’t have a clue where you’re going, others will think you’re crazy, and there will always be heartbreak. Just accept that. If you can accept that and learn to trust yourself and trust your process, there’s a world of hope there.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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