Releasing your debut music video is never an easy task. However, doing so in the midst of a pandemic poses even more of a challenge. Get to know emerging artist AC Jones and learn how the artist shot and edited the footage herself to make her new music video for “Castle” a reality.
This is a story most women are going to be able to relate to. I remember the first time I heard Miranda Lambert sing “The House that Built Me”. That was my life. That was me growing up. And, I’m sure a lot of other people felt the same way. Daddy built the house that Mom always wanted . I left my handprint in the cement on the front walk. We buried several pets under that tree in the front yard. That song went on and on, and I really thought to myself, ‘that could have been written about me.’
When I listened to “Castle,” I had many of those same thoughts. I remember seven years old. I remember that hand-me-down doll. Never being perfect like models in teen magazines. Staying strong…building her kingdom one stone at a time. The journey is part of the dream. Great lyrics that make it impossible for you to turn off this song before you get to the end of the story. She takes us from age seven, to motherhood. Building her castle that no one can bring down.
I listened more than once, and I will probably listen a lot more. This is a great song. Not just a bunch of words that aren’t making any sense at all. No snap-track in the background. A great melody, a real story, a very talented singer-songwriter who also directed the video. Read the interview below, and get to know AC Jones.
1, You’ve just released the music video for your new single “Castle.” Can you tell us a little bit about the song and what inspired you to write it?
AC: The song was inspired by my six-year-old niece, Norah, who battles Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto’s, and Celiac Disease on a daily basis. What’s incredible to me is that she handles it all with such joy and grace. For a long time, I had wanted to write a song inspired by her bravery, but I could never find the right words. Then one day, I thought of her battle cry of, “I’m a warrior princess!” and I knew that that had to be the feeling of the song. I just wanted to remind women of all ages that they are beautiful and unique beings filled with strength and a purpose that can never be taken away from them. I’m so thankful to my co-writers for helping me bring this song to life.
2, The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of daily life. What is it like working as an upcoming artist during such a difficult time for the music industry and country as a whole?
AC: It is not only difficult, but discouraging, to work on and invest in something for months and to have multiple radio tours and promotional shows planned, only to have them all cancelled in the matter of a few days. As an independent artist, face-to-face interviews and live shows are some of the most effective tools to get my music out there, and I no longer had that option. I had to learn how to adapt quickly, and immediately, I started reaching out to country blogs, country radio, and other acquaintances in the industry to see if I could do live stream takeovers on their pages. I am so thankful that these outlets have welcomed artists like me with open arms. I truly don’t know where I’d be without their support right now.
3. I understand that you originally hired a production company to do the music video, but because of the pandemic you ended up shooting and editing the video yourself during quarantine. What were your original plans for the video and what changed due to the circumstances?
AC: I had planned on filming the video in a beautiful, old castle in Cleveland, Ohio, with a dancer performing a powerful lyrical-style dance throughout the stone halls in between shots of my niece and me. The goal was for it to be extremely cinematic in nature. I had the date set, the location permits sent in, and was in constant contact with the videographer, but as much as we tried to push back the filming date, my hopes were dashed when the location fell through and we were pushed into further isolation. I decided to film the video myself rather than not have a video at all, and so, masked and six feet away from my niece, I filmed the video by the playhouse in the backyard of my childhood home.
4. How was it shooting and editing a video yourself? Did the process go smoothly for the most part, or were there any additional challenges that came up?
AC: It was a lot of fun and complicated at the same time. Filming my niece was somewhat easy because I knew what I had in my head and was able to translate that as best as I could to the camera, but filming myself was a much more difficult task. I had the camera on a moving track, but I could never truly tell what the shot looked like in the moment. This made it hard to know if the picture was clear and focused, if the lighting was adequate, and if I ever went out of frame. Editing was a long and slow process of digging through the good, bad, and ugly of all the footage I had. After I had finished editing, it was found that the quality of the initial shots of me singing the song were not adequate for distribution. I ended up re-filming all of the shots I was in and re-editing the video. It was a frustrating learning process at times, but I’ve learned so much through it.
5. Can you tell us any other stories about the day of the shoot? Anything funny or amusing that happened on set?
AC: For one, my niece was so excited that she got to wear the princess costume and the crown and that she got to keep the wooden sword! I think she also made herself dizzy spinning around! In the first cut of the video, the footage of me singing was in a dark room with a single light and a lot of smoke. We had filled up the living room of my apartment with a fogger and I had to step out every now and then for a good breath of fresh air! The jacket I’m wearing in the video was a semi-custom piece. I had purchased a red coat from Amazon and a bunch of appliqués from the fabric store, and my mother assisted in hot gluing it all to the jacket while I was wearing it with towels underneath so the glue wouldn’t burn me!
6. The video features your niece, Norah, a brave young girl battling three different autoimmune disorders. Are there any organizations you work with or would like to help raise awareness for that could help others in a similar situation?
AC: Ever since my niece was diagnosed with Type 1 at 9 months old, we have participated in the annual JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) walk, which supports T1D research and advocacy. The Celiac Disease Foundation (Celiac.org) helps to provide useful information for those with the disease or those desiring to learn more about life with Celiac, and Gluten Free Watchdog helps to confirm whether or not certain products are truly gluten free.
About AC Jones: After four years of balancing a musical career and college education in biochemistry, AC Jones dove into her country music career full-force. She has since achieved three Top 40 singles on the Music Row Country Breakout Chart as well as two Billboard Indicator charting singles. Her latest EP, Campfire Sessions, was recorded live around a bonfire at a KOA in Waterloo, IA during her 2019 summer tour. She has toured across the United States, Canada, and Scotland opening for acts such as the Kentucky Headhunters, Marty Stuart, Molly Hatchet, and The Oak Ridge Boys. If you’d like to learn more about AC Jones, be sure to visit her official website at https://www.acjonesmusic.com/ and be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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