- 28 Oct 21
"'Civil' tells a coming-of-age story of a boy that is growing up through a troubled home, trying to find his own way in life and grow an understanding," Down singer-songwriter Sam Wickens explains.
NI Music Prize nominee Sam Wickens has unveiled the ambient new visuals for his latest single 'Civil', directed by Danny Mills from Dan Dan Media and premiered below.
A mesmerising performer, Bangor native Wickens offers haunting melodies laced with poignant lyrics sung with his trademark transparency of spirit.
Compared to Jeff Buckley, John Martyn, Death Cab For Cutie, Tom Waits, Sam is a soulful writer and performer with a restless creativity, conveying a personal blend of electronic, soul, blues, gospel, folk and indie. The creative plies his craft with a focused sincerity, and has created a style his own: consistently delivering on his reputation as a bewitching live performer.
Following on from his acclaimed 2019 album All I've Seen and 2021 singles 'Strange.24' and 'Murky Waters' - as well as February's Watson EP - 'Civil' is masterful storytelling at its best.
The track explores anger, frustration and a sense of hopelessness at the subject's fractured home, with a sepia-esque video to portray the emotions at the song's core.
Working with Danny Mills again, Wickens knew how best to get the point across visually.
"Danny and I have always worked well together combining both of our ideas and insights. I have a rough story and different aspects in my mind and then he comes up with his ideas," Sam tells Hot Press. "We normally just meet up for a coffee and go through each other's ideas and how we can meld them together. Through conversation, more ideas and visions come to light about what we want the finished video to get across to the viewer. We both really love the smaller details of music videos and how they can really shape the story being told."
"From the start, we both had agreed that this video was the start of 'chapter 2' and it was in a different place than the previous two videos," the Down artist adds. "'Strange.24' and 'Murky Waters' were both monochrome, black and white. We wanted to introduce colour but not too much straight away, so we decided to emulate how older videos would look and feel, very dull colours and slightly blurry. It plays with the story and gives the feeling of a home-made video that you are rewatching years later."
Interweaving images of Sam himself sitting in an empty warehouse with that of a young boy, the video inserts the experiences of Wickens and others around him, with intense results.
"The song is intertwined between my own personal experiences and other people's journeys and experiences that I've been told about. It really is a story about how a lot of the problems and experiences we face make us closer to others that have faced similar experiences. One of the lyrics in the song is 'send it on' - being repeated."
"For me, it means that patterns can very easily be repeated or passed on to a child, like children that grew up around alcoholic parents or guardians then growing up to have problems with alcoholism," Sam explains. "It can also mean to learn from those experiences and to try and be a role model to those ahead of you. I am very lucky to be where I am today and I do feel it's my duty to send it on and try my best to help someone else that I may have experience in what they are going through."
Why did he choose 'Civil' as the single's concluding title?
"The word 'civil has a lot of different meanings. With the story of my song I found this word to share worlds with the different aspects of the story - 'relating to private arguments between people or organisations rather than criminal matters'. This definition really does explain how problems in the home can feel. Another definition is simply 'polite and formal', which is the polar opposite. It has this massive pull from different ends of the spectrum, again how problems in the home can feel. It can be a traumatic experience and hellish but still - it's happening at a place that you call your home and eat your dinner."
"I hope that viewers and listeners will be able to empathise with the story, to be able to see the bigger picture that is," the rising indie act remarks. "If you have dealt with any of the issues that you see and that you do feel comfortable or in a place of peace, to try and help someone else that could be going through the same trouble. We all can help each other with the different experiences we all have."
Wickens is only just returning to the stage - fully embracing the vulnerability of this act. He's set to support some idols of his before releasing new music in 2022.
Check out the beautiful video for 'Civil' below:
13th November 2021 - The Workman’s Club
28th November 2021 - The Empire, Belfast