Reflecting on the Concept of Youth, and Simpler Times
How a school assignment turned into my biggest, and most fun challenge yet.
A comprehensive school assignment gave me the opportunity to finally create a song for an audience. It gave me the chance to show what I was capable of by revisiting my childhood.
"The Lightest of Days" is a song about exploring my thoughts about my youth. I wanted to touch upon concepts of home and self-reflection.
The school assignment was all about sharing how you concieve your environment, so I decided to take personal things, and share my thoughts in song-form.
I would love to return to simpler times when the most difficult task I had was making sure my Kapla tower didn't collapse, nowadays that Kapla box might be in the attic somewhere considering I went from playing around with wooden slabs, to playing around in digital software.
Physically returning to my childhood is impossible, but I am lucky that I do have all sorts of footage of a more introverted me, trying his best to be a regular human. It was fun to base the music video on that older footage.
The Song-Writing Process
Writing this song was a unique experience, I had never put this much effort into writing before, but I knew I wanted to convey my thoughts correctly, and pay tribute to my childhood in a meaningful way.
The song was always going to be a happy song, since I experienced my childhood as a happy and lucky one, now that I look back.
However, I do feel like I took my life for granted when I was a child, of course I was still developing, but I remember being an introverted, simple boy, never talking to people, never taking risks, but that is why I, as said in the song, forced myself to change for the better.
It may sound weird to encourage people to change themselves, but that wasn't exactly what I was implying with those lyrics, those lyrics define how I wasn't proud of myself, and how I wanted myself to be better when I reached a certain age. This is an interesting thought to revisit, so I might do that in a future song since more exploration of that thought didn't fit into this song anymore.
Talking about that, I started the song-writing with a detailed 'experience-essay' to get myself into the right mindset, and to start writing my thoughts and memories down to already get some ideas for what the song would be about. The song quickly evolved into a personal song, but I wanted it told in a joking way, since that does fit my personality, and my writing style.
The lyrics, "Thinking oh what a present, that past," and "Take me back to the lightest of days" fit this description of "joking" during the song. My hope was that these lyrics would make the song a bit more personal and unique, since it might be such stupid jokes that no one else would have ever written them that way.
Lyrics like "Pushed to be optimistic," and "Tell me if I make any mistakes" are serious, and a bit sad when you think about them too long, which is why I followed them up with the lyrics "Didn’t really mind though, gave me time to fly home," and "I am ready for the best memory yet" to hold on to the feel-good nature of the song, and to show how I tend to look on the bright side of situations.
Many lyrics in the song contain motivational messages, because I wanted the song to show how there's always a brighter side to your memories, no matter what they are, and that it's not crazy to follow your dreams; if I didn't follow my dreams, this song wouldn't exist.
I am open to answering any queries regarding the lyrics, I think if I keep explaining every lyric choice right now, this article will become too long.
The Music Video
I was browsing my harddisk, and I found a lot of material of me as a child, and that's where the idea came from to add my After Effects knowledge to the project, and to insert an older version of myself into that footage.
The first thing that I actually recorded, and animated, was the scene at the parking lot where I walked out of the alley, that scene was originally a test for combining the new and older footage with the glitch-effect on top of it to see how smooth it would be. I really liked how the scene turned out, so I knew it needed a spot in the music video, and that's when I realised that the music video would consist of me walking around my neighbourhood, literally revisiting memories.
Recording the music video in my bedroom was done on purpose, not only because I didn't have a budget to film on location, but also because that strengthened the personality, and 'amateuristic charm' of the entire video. I didn't need the video to be as perfect as television, I just wanted to get my messages across.
The 'amateuristic charm' also fueled the childishness of the whole video. The colours were a bit saturated on purpose, so the entire video would continue to be a colourful and joyful journey that hopefully reminds people of their "Lightest Days" too.
I am thankful for my brother who I kept asking to circle around me and such, this project could've never been possible if it weren't for him agreeing to help me shoot, so I guess here's some deserved appreciation.
There was an ambitious idea to record a shot of me on a stage somewhere, so there would be an interesting parallel between me in my bedroom singing to nobody, and me on stage singing to an audience, this eventually proved to be impossible considering there was no stage available, and I realised how it might take the theme of revisiting and embracing the past away.
As I said, at the end of the song-writing process, I am open to answering any queries based on the video, or to maybe even make an effects breakdown, just let me know!
Even if I danced like a lunatic, or sang how no one else would sing a song, that is exactly what makes the project mine, and I am still proud of the fact that the song and video are so expressive of my personality, and journey up until now.
I have received an overwhelming amount of compliments for the video, and that certainly fuels my motivation to continue being myself. I hope the video, the song, and this article inspire you to take shots in the dark too, and to continue being yourself.