John Smith - Hold On

Co-Director • Video Editor • VFX • Color

“A trippy, psychedelic mind fuck.”

Official music video for “Hold On” by John Smith from his new album “The Fray”

When John approached Stassmonster and I to direct his new music video we honestly had no idea he was also from Wales. As with all the music video treatments we create, we listened to the song on loop as we ideated. What was presented to John was a psychedelic love letter to my Welsh homeland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made international travel near impossible. While I consider the USA home (after living here for near two decades), Wales is still my motherland. Wales is the land of song, beauty, magic and dragons and not being able to go back home for a visit has left me with a sense of longing for Wales and her wonderful allure. Only another Welsh person will fully understand the passion and love we all have for her and creating the “Hold On” music video helped sooth my hiraeth (Welsh word for longing for home), if only for a little moment.

Shot over numerous days in both South and North Wales, many of the landscapes highlight key Welsh places forever etched in my mind and that I wanted to share with the world. From the moors above Markham through the lanes that drop into Wattsville mixed together with a variety of small valley town vignettes. These South Wales moments were mixed with similar places in North Wales that feel the same to John – from deep foggy forests through the top of Moel Arthur mountain – which happens to have one of the best views in Wales. The mountaintop of Moel Arthur ended up looking like heaven thanks to the deep fog on shoot day. Mother nature and Wales herself helped us change the tone and vibe of the music video.

I decided early on that I wanted to play with the very time intensive process of frame by frame masking across a variety of scenes so that John could visually drift in and out of thoughts, feelings, moments and dreams. At times the viewer is left wondering if John is really there? Maybe he died? Is he asleep? We never really answer this question, instead we offer the viewer a trippy, psychedelic mind fuck. The final piece of the puzzle was cemented through stunning performances by John in a variety of gorgeous locations that look like they were pulled straight out of a Hollywood movie.