Interview + Premiere: Watch Wes Swing’s Haunting New Video for “Mirrors”

It’s been about half a year since Charlottesville-based prodigy Wes Swing returned to the cello folk vanguard with And The Heart, the perfect time to release a music video for the album’s lead single.

The wondrous musicality in “Mirrors” finds common ground with the gorgeous cinematography of Pando Creative Co. Themes of internal struggles and self-discovery come into focus as Swing and company use the scenic splendor Virginia’s own Chesapeake Bay to tell a musical tale as personal as it is dazzling.

Swing was kind enough to open up about the creative and technical process that went into the video.

What was the process of choosing Chesapeake Bay as the location for the “Mirrors” video?
We knew we wanted to shoot at a lighthouse and we wanted their to be ghosts and dance. Searched for an island lighthouse thinking there was no way we would find that, or if we do it would be too expensive to go there with a crew, but the first result was New Point Comfort Lighthouse.

We took one look at it and said, “it’s got to be there.” It’s in Virginia, only a two-hour drive from where I live, and it’s gorgeous! Although, there is a bit of CGI. The lighthouse really is an island, but the only structure on the island is the actual lighthouse. There’s a hut beside the lighthouse at the beginning of the video that’s supposed to be where the lighthouse-keeper lives, which was made with CGI.

Forrest Pando and Zaynah Akeel Pando, the husband-and-wife team at Pando Creative Co., do extremely high quality work, so their use of CGI doesn’t surprise me.
They did an amazing job. We had a producer, Forrest and Zayna directing, we had a CGI guy, and a cinematographer with an amazing camera. We did a combination of drones and digital camerawork, and the directors helped out with editing.

How did you become involved with Pando creative?
I moved back to Virginia from the West Coast in 2016, and a guy I worked with told me about them and showed me a video they made. I thought it was awesome. We met at a friend’s halloween party, and it turned out they had been listening to my music while I had been checking out their work. We kept in touch, and I eventually asked them if they’d do a video for me.

It’s always cool to hear about how artists end up collaborating.
Actually, the main actress in the video is Diane Cluck. She’s a friend, and we sing together on occasion. I imagined the roll as a historical light-house keeper Ida Lewis, who was a total badass and saved a bunch of people from drowning during the Victorian era. I thought Diane totally had the vibe of Ida. She did it, and she was a great! I asked her how she learned to act like that after the shoot, and she said she majored in acting. It was a really cool coincidence.

How do the songs themes connect to the new visual accompaniment?
I didn’t have imagery of the lighthouse in mind when I wrote “Mirrors,” but the themes definitely translate. The song, to me, is about finding a piece of yourself you didn’t know what was there, and that’s what the character does.

She’s challenged by ghosts, which represent her past, and as the video progresses they become more intense and eventually physically restrain her. Her past is challenged by her dream, and you don’t know if it’s real or her imagination. Her decision to stay in the lighthouse represents a catharsis, because she finds peace within herself even though she doesn’t leave.

Does the video play into the album’s overarching theme of your rediscovery of music after suffering from a wrist imagery.
The narrative could have been that she has to leave her past behind, and that would represent a true catharsis on film. I thought it would be nice to have a more personal to the character, a more subtle theme of coming back to oneself as opposed to leaving oneself behind.

Can we expect more music this year?
I’ll probably do two single covers (Bjork’s “Unravel” and The Smiths’ “Last Night I Dreamt that Someone Loved Me”), and maybe an EP in the next year.


photo by: Kristen Finn;