By Sarah Kitteringham
BeatRoute is proud to present this exclusive stream of dark folk musician Laura Hickli’s debut music video. Created and filmed by Calgary filmmaker Doug Cook, “Midnight” tells the story of disheartened young woman consumed by the profound feelings of loss and regret. She roams around a lonely, scorched chamber, haunted by her mistakes. While tormented by her memories, a robotic intravenous apparatus guides and pulls her away from the darkness, towards the hope of a brighter tomorrow. “Midnight” is set in a cold and dark futuristic galaxy. The sombre tone of the video matches Hickli’s raw vocal and piano-driven music.
CALGARY — Hickli is an emerging folk musician from Calgary, Alberta who is working on her debut full-length with local producer Sasha Laskow (of Perfect Fifth). A trained pianist, Hickli has been making music since childhood; she got her start in the Calgary music scene as the keyboardist for metal act Orphan Hammer. It was during that time that Hickli was introduced to filmmaker Doug Cook, a music video director who has completed videos for Jung People, Mortillery, Chuck Schuldiner’s post-Death band Control Denied, Exit Strategy, ATOMIS and many more. They met during the video shoot for Orphan Hammer’s “Pyrrhic Victory Part One,” keeping track of one another ever since. Years later, with the help of a large crew, they’ve created “Midnight.” Sonically and visually, it’s a vast change from her previous musical output, but one that was a long time coming.
“This is the stuff I’ve always been interested in,” says Hickli, who came to the downtown BeatRoute office with Cook to discuss the video. “My brother was the guitarist for Orphan Hammer… so when he said ‘we need a keyboardist,’ it helped me expand my skills. It also brought a darker side to my music… I spent two years in metal; I was also in Streets of Pestilence. But two years of that really helped bring out the anger.”
Those who noted the strong emotionality embedded in the simple, dark and beautiful song were not mistaken.
“Honestly at the time [I wrote ‘Midnight’], I was just incredibly hopeless,” says Hickli candidly. “I had been homeless for almost two months, and we had just moved into our new house, there was a lot of family strife, and a lot of friends and relationships were breaking up. Everyone wanted to be there for me at the time. I ignored their help, I should have accepted it. And to this day, it’s still a problem. I don’t know how this music came out, because I was in such a state that I don’t think I should have been able to do anything.”
She continues, “That’s why this song is so powerful to me, because it proved to me that music is bigger than you, it’s bigger than all of us. It’s a force of nature.”
Cook was drawn to the project due to the aforementioned emotionality and was equally eager to conceptualize a complex storyline.
“There was a lot of metaphor,” he begins. “When I first sat down and thought about “Midnight” the song, in my brain, I saw loneliness. She said music was therapy; that’s where the intravenous machine came in, that was following her around. I saw something feeding her, and her image on that machine is how she used to feel. There is a lot of visual things going on in my head when she was talking about it. I visualized her in a room, that was all burnt, and her life was ashes.”
He continues, “In the last moment, there is a sense of hope, the sunlight that comes in. I visualized that as, even in the darkest days, when you’re going through problems in life… there is always a sense of hope that is shining somewhere. You’ve got to chase it. In the video, it’s there for two seconds and fades away, but at the very end the machine plugs itself back in and the light flickers, and she has a little smile on her face at the end, which is perfect. I don’t think I directed her to do that, she was lying on the ground and she had this little tiny smile that you can barely see, but it’s a sense of moving forward.”
“The video is my interpretation of what she was going through,” he concludes.
“Midnight” will be streaming on www.beatroute.ca at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 20 until Tuesday, February 3. You can check out more of Doug Cook’s videos at www.dougcook.ca and listen to more of Hickli’s music at http://music.cbc.ca/#!/artists/Laura-Hickli.AB, Alberta, Doug Cook, Laura Hickli, Midnight