Seth King is showing a side to himself that he never before has. With his new single “Break,” King is at his confessional best, not afraid to show his vulnerability as a person nor artist. The song, the title track to his latest album, recounts an eventful evening he experienced when in a state of stubbornness, he made a terrible decision by breaking up with his girlfriend. He arrived home that night at 3 am and in somewhat a drunken stooper, he began messing around on the piano, and by three hours later, he had the demo for “Break” written.
Fortunately, he was able to smooth things over with his girlfriend the following week, but the whole experience taught him an important lesson of the value of certain people. The music video emphasizes the pain and vulnerability that King experienced that fateful night, as you witness him pouring his heart out on the street, in the liquor store, and at the bar.
King’s success stems back to a viral video that got posted of him performing on a holiday in Bali, Indonesia. He released his debut EP, 2020’s Got Me Feeling Like, in January, which featured the single “Forgotten World,” which has racked up 125,000 Spotify streams. He has also become quite a TikTok sensation, with his recent videos topping three million views.
We recently connected with King to discuss the music video for “Break” in greater detail. King offered us a behind-the-scenes look into how the video was shot, its concept, and his more general point of view when it comes to music videos. He also shared with us some behind-the-scenes photos of the actual video shoot.
Any mishaps on set?
Seth King: “Shooting in Indonesia was always going to be prone to mishaps and weird phenomena but to be honest this shoot went really smoothly considering everything that could have gone wrong.”
Any concepts where you started and, midway through, thought “what the fuck are we doing?”
“Oh for sure… On the second night of shooting, I had one of those moments. I had written in the script ‘this is the point where I crash’ and I thought that a mattress on the floor, someone holding my bike ready to throw me off, and a quick jump from me would be all we needed… but after all the shooting we got to the crash bit. I was ready until I got to the bit where I had to jump off a slowly moving bike onto a mattress and I thought… What the fuck am I doing. I am not a movie star or a stunt double… like my back hurts in the morning if I get up too quickly… maybe I am in way over my head.
But we changed the scene up a bit and decided to not film it that dangerously I like to say because it didn’t look that good on camera but I really think it was because my common sense returned to me that night.”
If money was no issue what would be in your perfect video?
“A proper crash scene… With a stunt double!”
If you could have any guest appear in your video who would you have?
“Oh not for this video but I have a song called Russell Brand and I would absolutely love to get him in the video and rap speaking the bridge. This is genuinely one of my big dreams!”
Do you prefer writing a video around the theme of a song or just going to a warehouse and banging out a live performance?
“Oh, writing a video around the theme for sure! I spent eight years as a filmmaker, I made a feature film, wrote a feature, and made up to 300 live performance videos and music videos for artists… When it came time to record my own videos I felt in my element. The video plays a big part for me in the storytelling.”
Tell us about any good, bad or crazy director or film crew-related incidents.
“I was the writer and director and singer/actor so it made it drama-free really… there can be no power play or dramas if it’s just me and a couple of crew members I trust.
I guess the weirdest thing about the video was that (except for the crash at the end) the song tells a true story. I saw my then ex-girlfriend at a bar, we both had the worst night of our lives because there was so much still between us, then while drunk I got home and wrote the song (that was my crash moment). Me and my girlfriend got back together after I wrote the song, but when it came to filming it I wanted to show me seeing her and I couldn’t cast anyone else in the role. So my girlfriend said yes and then I had to direct her to retell a moment that was so hurtful for both of us.”
How does the music inform the video in terms of visuals matching sound?
“It’s a slow song so I knew I had to have a slow video, but I also wanted to create intrigue from the first moment so I guess the music made it imperative for me to tell the story backwards so that it would be interesting the whole way through.”
Have you ever had such a baller idea for a music video that you’ve written music for it?
“(laughs) Not yet! But that would be crazy. Let’s see if that happens one day.”
What is your favourite childhood music video and have you any secret nods to it in your catalogue?
“Oh, I really don’t have one. I actually as a filmmaker find more of my inspiration from films. Like Christopher Nolan’s catalogue. I really tried to take a nod from his movie Memento and make that into this music video. In fact, I pitched it to my camera man as Memento in a music video.”
How important are music videos in terms of increased exposure?
“For me I am not really sure it is that important for exposure. I just know it is important for me sometimes to tell the full picture of a story.”
How important a role does social media play for sharing videos and increasing exposure?
“See, this is the important part for me. I mean without people knowing who you are, how are they going to know your music? It’s a tough one sometimes we want to just hide away and only write music.. but I am learning that the only bit about making music that really is ‘work’ is the social media/marketing side.”
How much more effective or beneficial is creating a music video now compared to 20 or 30 years ago?
“I would argue it’s less effective. There are more avenues to music now through playlists that I can say it’s actually not that important to have a video. I mean everyone can sing Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect,’ but does everyone know what was in the video? I am not so sure.”
Are the benefits worth the costs and effort involved?
“Depends on the project. I have a good six singles coming out this year and I think I might only make two music videos. This is probably more due to the fact that I just can’t afford to make six music videos. That probably gives an answer. It’s important but not essential.”
Is YouTube (or ‘online-only’ platforms) a good enough platform by itself to justify creating a music video?
“Oh for sure! TikTok as well. Any means necessary! We need to make our own cavalry.”
Is a well-made DIY video just as good or beneficial as a professionally-made/directed video?
“It’s all in the story. I’ve seen million-dollar productions look like a polished (expletive). So it’s about executing ideas. In fact, I find it better to challenge myself and try doing the crazy thing I have in my mind with no budget, it makes me more creative.”
Does the video for “Break” have a concept and, if so, can you elaborate on it?
“Yea the video for ‘Break’ is told in reverse but not a clear backwards video. In fact, I wanted it to be like the Christopher Nolan movie Memento. Where you watch a full scene in forward motion (let’s call this scene one) and as soon as that scene finishes we go back to the scene previous (let’s say scene two). Scene two then ends previously with the first shot of scene one before it goes back to the scene previous to that. It’s a weird mind fuck. Even writing and storyboarding the music video I had difficulty getting my head around the concept.
But in the end, I loved the idea, it was like peeling back layers of the onion. Each scene gets us closer to the heart of why the motor crash happened in the first place. At first, we think, oh it’s because he didn’t put a helmet on, then you learn that he is drinking, then you learn he is plagued by something on his phone until finally, you see… Ah, it’s about a girl, it’s about love (it always is). But this way it just seemed more interesting to me, like the climax was always going to be more intimate because in the end, I am always more interested in the ‘why’ of a bad situation or outcome, not the outcome itself.”
Did you work with a crew at all in the making of the video?
“Like I said before, I wrote, directed, and performed in the music video but I also edited it too (gotta love being a filmmaker before being a musician). So the crew was always going to be very small. But the notable inclusion was the cinematographer. I have made three music videos with my friend Tim Belchamber and when it came time for this one I really just trusted Tim to make my imagination come alive through the camera. Other than Tim we hired a local guy from Indonesia named Haldy and he was a great allrounder, holding lights and helping throw me off of a bike.”
Did the video have a budget and were you able to stick with it?
“All out of my own pocket. Ended up just paying for lighting costs and the time of both the cinematographer and the lighting guy.”