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The Frame: Local artist John Phelps directs chilling concept video

John Phelps

After the successful release of his debut alt-pop EP John last fall (with his first single “Rumors” at almost 30k streams), John Phelps is back at it — this time, with a cinematic concept video for one of his catchiest R&B-inspired songs. “The Frame” explores the aftermath of a long-term relationship, depicting what happens when only one person feels truly sick from the fallout. There’s also the possible interpretation of this emotional sickness being transferred to future relationships, repeating the cycle of pain. There are so many ways to read the narrative of this song, and I loved the way the video presents it like an old-Hollywood glam horror movie. Imaginative aerial drone shots of a city at night collide with close-ups of a couple eating dinner in a dark room. It’s typical enough – until things get a little crazy. You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean (see it here: https://youtu.be/cMq_nFSic0g). 

The song opens with the lyrics, “You just pushed me out of the frame / and I’m having trouble saying it ain’t my fault / four years down the drain / thought I earned more than just a phone call.” It’s relatable for anyone who’s experienced a breakup, and the memory of pulling yourself back together after being mercilessly broken hits hard. There are also subtle tones of anger at the other person for the time it takes to heal. 

John Phelps offered some input on how he views the song, and his overall vision for this self-directed music video:

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“The concept of the song was simple enough: that feeling of being choked up. I just thought about that feeling and compared it to a physical ailment. It’s dramatic, but that’s a good place to start. I wanted the music video to be a continuation of that metaphor — how heartbroken people might want others to feel their pain, to empathize. I have always loved horror movies and practical effects; I feel like this music video is a nod to that,” he said.

Phelps didn’t work alone on this project and wishes to thank his many collaborators, including James Pilkington, Matthew Sullivan and Aneeva Erban, as well as actors Justin Ferris and Jill Rosati. 

I heard this song from his EP last fall, and as much as I liked it then, this video adds so much to it. It’s got some sci-fi-inspired sound effects layered against continuous electrified percussion. Dreamy guitar licks and Phelps’ smooth vocals bring a nostalgic, desperate quality to the strong bass lines and intense emotions inspired by the provocative lyrics (read my review of the EP here: motifri.com/latest-from-electro-pop-artist-john-phelps-was-written-in-lockdown-this-collection-of-songs-is-as-raw-as-it-gets).

If you’re itching to see some new live content from John Phelps, he’s going to be livestreaming a set and recording a podcast interview at The Parlour on July 15. Tune in for that on Motif‘s podcast “Between The Notes.” In the meantime, you can watch and listen to the music video for “The Frame” on itsjohnphelps.com – and let it heal the pieces of yourself that you’re still trying to glue back together. He’s also got a new EP in the works, with the next single coming soon.

Stream more music by John Phelps on Spotify: open.spotify.com/artist/537ngPyyn8WNF3Patu35BX?si=_SFRTEv4SqabfGn8XWhSyA; Catch John Phelps’ As220 Livestream on Facebook: fb.me/e/11HSevxge; The Between The Notes podcast and set will be available on the Parlour Facebook page after July 15: facebook.com/ParlourRI/

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