I started working on “Coastlines”in 2015.
I had a song on my hard drive that I had abandoned three years before because, at the time, I couldn’t put words to the melody. No clue. Zero inspiration. But when I was searching for ideas for my next album (“Night Cab”), I listened back to the song and decided I had to do something with it. I liked the guitar riff at the beginning, I thought it could be good for my album, but I still had no clue as to what the lyrics could and should be. I wanted to write something meaningful, not just another love song. I thought it deserved better. Around the same time, the refugee crisis was breaking news and the death of three year old Alan Kurdi shocked the world. I didn’t want to write on the subject at first because I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, for a variety of reasons. But the images of the boats in the middle of the ocean, so fragile, with all these people crammed inside, hoping for a better life, the despair in their faces and the growing intolerance towards them, all these things got to me, and once I took the guitar and started to sing “Hold on, my son”, I knew I had to give it a try. My only rules were to make sure I meant every word, and to try to really put myself into the shoes of these guys. I wrote a first draft and showed it to my girlfriend. She told me she liked it (which is always nice to hear), BUT that it was a bit unidemensional. I had to agree. All the verses were about the refugees on the boat and the ones in the middle were not bringing anything new to the table. She said: “why don’t you write about something else in parallel?”. I said: “Like what?” She said “I don’t know… 9/11? maybe?” I wasn’t sure at first but decided to give it a try anyway. I replaced the middle part of the song with a narrative about the poor souls stuck at the top of the towers, helpless but still fighting for their lives, and that was it. To me, the parallel between the 9/11 victims and the Syrian war victims was telling something important. Something about tolerance, and understanding, and helping each other in times of need.
As the days went on, I grew prouder and prouder of the song and decided I had to create a video that would serve it right, and maybe even add to the complexity of the lyrics. I didn’t want to shoot a quick clip of me singing the song like I had done before for my other singles. In fact, I didn’t want to appear at all in the thing. So I candidly opted for a 2d animation video made with the Adobe suite (mainly Illustrator, Photoshop and, of course, After Effects). The problem? I had never used After Effects in my life and had to learn it fast! I bought a couple of books, surfed the internet, consulted the CreativeCow website for some of the best advice I could find and, after eight months of hard work, managed to produce something that I’m very pleased to share with you.
My dearest hope is that the song can help, even just a little bit, in these times of intolerance and extremism. It may be just a drop in the ocean, but it comes from the heart and and I hope it touches yours.
Thanks for watching!