City Of Ashes recently put together an incredibly moving and inspirational music video/short film for their song Sometimes, a song inspired by a fan’s incredible battle with depression. We wanted to know more about this moving story, so we caught up with the band to find out more.
What’s the story behind the song?
The song actually dates back two years to when we were in the process of writing for the new record. A young fan wrote to us thanking us for some of the material on our first album as it was helping her through a very difficult time. In fact the girl in question was quite severely depressed which had brought on Bulimia and hospitalised her for a while.
What she was less aware of, I suspect, was my own dealings with depression. I know that particular foe all too well and also that somebody telling you “I know how you feel” is not only a kind of a flippant put down but just entirely false. Depression is an incredibly personal and lonely experience and no amount of condescending clichés will help someone going through it. With that in mind, I did the only thing that felt like it might help, I talked to her about my own experiences. She cherry picked the parts that made the most sense to her experience and hopefully together we helped her through some of her worse moments.
That conversation really became the basis for Sometimes. It felt like a conversation that had happened in a million places before behind closed doors and the more we toured the more we met incredible people dealing with all sorts of levels of depression. I felt that with all of that in mind it was necessary to start having that conversation far more publicly.
Was it an easy choice to choose it as a single/video, given that it’s a song about her struggles with depression?
It was in some ways a very difficult choice. I did a lot of talking with a lot of people about what they would feel comfortable with etc. We even had other bands asking us why we were wanting to do it and talking about how risky it potentially was career wise. However at the same time it was also the easiest decision in the world because it’s not just about one person’s experience and that’s the point. This issue is societal and pandemic! When we tour town to town and see people so affected by the song because so much of it relates to their experience too, you realise very quickly that we have a massive problem on a cultural level. Art should make a statement and this is certainly a cause we believe worthy of standing by.
How did the recording of the video go?
Man, it was tough! I produce all our videos but this really became a short film more than a video which was pretty different to anything we had attempted. The preproduction started way back at the beginning of the year and by the time we came to filming, what had just recently been announced for everyone else, felt like a marathon for me.
We shot around 20 hours of footage, half of which was just myself and our camera operator sitting in an old bank vault talking to people about their experiences and stories. By the end of that day the pair of us were in pieces.
I find it very touching that you’ve also set up the Sometimes Project to reach out to fans with depression – were you inspired to set it up because of your song, or did the Sometimes Project inspire you to create the song?
Really it relates back to what I was saying previously, that the more and more people we met out on tour dealing with depression often felt like there was something wrong with them or that they were alone in this experience.
We have the internet now which is an incredible tool for connecting people so why not do exactly that? The purpose is super simple, to allow people to talk about their experiences when they want to and allow others to offer support for them. Already we have been lucky enough to witness people turning around their lives because not feeling so isolated gave them the strength to move forward. We’ve seen amazing friendships formed too and, (as importantly for me) I’ve had people without any personal experience of the condition come and say to me that because of their ability to read what other people have gone through or to watch in the film, they understand depression in a whole new way.
And what’s in store for you for 2017?
More touring hopefully! We’re dying to get into Europe so hopefully that happens next year (hint hint European bands) and we’ll start experimenting with a few new sound behind closed doors.
There’s so much yet to come!