23-year-old musician Morgan Saint's debut EP 17 Hero is the type of music that gets you just enough in your feelings to reflect on your inner landscape, life and past, but at the same time is upbeat enough to carry you through your busy day. "Just Friends" is exactly such a track, with a bopping beat balancing Saint's light, airy vocals. Notably, Saint is responsible for each stage of her music's creation — writing the lyrics and melody, directing her videos, and creating her own artwork.
PAPER asked Spencer Pratt, a longtime friend and fan of Morgan Saint, to interview her about the video for "Just Friends," and the two chatted about everything from music to spirituality to a mutual love of hummingbirds.
See the video and read the conversation below:
Spencer: "Just Friends" is a banger. What is it about?
Morgan: Thank you! Two summers ago, I developed strong feelings for someone that was not ready to love and care for me the way that I wanted to care for them. When I think back to that summer, It was one of the most adventurous, exciting and passionate few months of my life thus far, yet it was equally filled with so much sadness and heartbreak. And so in writing this song, I wanted to capture the unique dynamic between the feeling of pure joy and complete sadness that I experienced during that time. I got my heart broken, but I learned so much about myself in the process. I think the biggest lesson that came from that experience is that I will never be truly happy unless I figure out a way to feel full without relying on someone else to fill all of the empty spaces inside of my heart.
Spencer: When the video begins, I am not sure who each character is interacting with, and as it plays on, I realize it's oneself. Was your goal of this video to touch on self-reflection and the relationships we share with ourselves?
Morgan: My relationship with myself is the most challenging and complex relationship in my life, and so I wanted to share what that relationship looks like. Each character sees themselves in a unique light, and is dealing with different emotions. By the end of the video, we watch as each character has come to terms with themselves. I think there is a very fascinating parallel that exists between our relationship with others and our relationship with ourselves.
Spencer: Can you tell me more about where this concept came from and how it developed?
Morgan: As crazy as it may sound, this was the third video treatment that I had come up with and presented to my label. It was a challenge to tell a story about love without leaving anyone that listens to my music out. Something that I find disappointing in the entertainment industry is the over glorification of straight culture. I personally do not believe in restricting myself in any way, nor do I want the art that I make to live within a confined box. With that being said, coming up with a concept that still felt like it reflected the narrative of the song in an accurate way was very challenging. Choosing to not reveal that each character is in fact interacting with themselves until the end of the video was a specific decision that I made in order to elude to the fascinating relationship that I find exists between my relationship with other people and my relationship with myself.
Spencer: I know that you are extremely involved in all aspects of the art you put out. How involved were you in making this video?
Morgan: Like everything else that I make, I was extremely hands on in brining this video to life. I co-directed this video with Nathan Crooker, who I also co-directed my other two videos with. He is awesome because although we naturally come from very different visual worlds, he strives to understand my eye and my vision without any ego attached whatsoever. In addition to directing, I also styled and casted with the help of my talented friend, McLayne Ycmat, and designed the lighting with the assistance of the talented Jason Banker.
Spencer: Can you tell me about the cast? Are these people that you know? Are they playing themselves or a a fictional character?
Morgan: Yes! This cast is all friends of mine or friends of friends, which made filming this video super fun and interesting. My goal was to really just capture each person as authentically as possible. I sort of let them go to whatever place they wanted emotionally that day and then we ran with that!
Spencer: You wrote the "Just Friends" lyrics on a flight home from a vacation in Antigua over a year ago. Did you expect it to be as popular as it has become?
Morgan: I did. That was the first time I had ever written a song lyrically before any instrumentation, so it was a unique experience for me! I'm honestly grateful for anyone who has listened or found place to connect to what I'm making. I really never have any expectations. I always just hope that my honesty connects.
Spencer: I know you are very good at so many things including interior design, painting and drawling, graphic design (all your merch, posters, EP art, Instagram content and general vision is so strong). I've never heard of a musician handling all of this at once. You're a powerhouse. Are there any other outlets you want to explore in the future?
Morgan: Thank you! I am very involved in all aspects of my vision and story. I don't think I would do this if I didn't have full control. Actually scratch that. I definitely wouldn't do this if i didn't make everything myself. I write my own music in order for my stories and experiences to be 100% authentic, and so stopping at just that just doest make sense for me. Plus, visual art is equally as important to me, so I wouldn't feel satisfied as an artist if I had someone else figuring out a way to tell my stories visually.
Spencer: That leads me into my next question: is there anything that you don't design yourself?
Morgan: Nothing! Everything you see having to do with Morgan Saint was designed by me.
Spencer: I really feel I have been able to connect with you through my hummingbirds and their response to the music. Are you spiritual in anyway?
Morgan: I know! I feel like the universe has brought us together for some odd reason that is beyond us. So to answer your question—yes. I am spiritual but not at all religious. I believe very strongly in the power of energy and being a good person. How cool is it that your little hummers respond so well to my music?! I've actually done a lot of research about hummingbirds, and I've learned that they are in fact very spiritual creatures. It is said that their fluttering wings move in an infinity symbol, suggesting their symbolism of eternity and continuity. I remember the first time that I went to your house and you took me outside to feed them, I was amazed by how tirelessly they seemed to work to get their sweet nectar. They are an amazing reminder to never stop seeking out the good and beautiful moments in each day. Their energy is so healing! It is a true honor that they connect to my music! It makes me feel equally connected to the universe.
Spencer: Aside from writing your music, directing your videos and designing your artwork, are you enjoying being on the road and performing every night?
Morgan: Yes, very much so. I honestly love performing so much. I feel so at home on stage. It's definitely been an adjustment being away from the people that I love, but it has only made my relationships grow stronger.
Spencer: Can you give us some future plans? Anything is store this summer?
Morgan: I am excited to release some little surprises in the coming weeks, as well as do some awesome festivals and go on my own headlining run this summer. But what I'm most excited about is releasing my full album. It is done, and I am very eager for the world to hear it in the coming months!
Spencer: Is there anyone that we didn't cover that helped make this video come to life?
Morgan: Yes! I want to thank my partner in crime, Sofia Colvin, who helps me make all of my visions a reality. In addition, I'd like to thank the talented Caitlin Monahan and Jarrett Brandon for making us all glow!