Below you will find the world premiere for "Tupelo," The debut single from Conception Bay, Newfoundland (Canada)'s Mallory Johnson. The fantastic single, which is currently rising the charts, was produced -- as was Mallory's forthcoming album -- by Sammy Kershaw and showcases her dynamic talent as a vocalist. After watching the video, we hope you'll stick around to read her fantastic responses to a short Q&A about her album and working with Sammy Kershaw and his label Big Hit Records/SonyRED!
Mallory Johnson Music Video Q&A:
What can you tell Roughstock about the making of the music video for "Tupelo?"
This video is a special one for me. Not just because it’s my first music video, but because I got to share the experience with so many friends and family. My brother, Cecil Johnson (Tuckamore Productions) actually produced, directed, filmed, and edited the project, so it was really cool to see him do his thing on one side of the camera, while I did my thing on the other. He knows me so well, so having him take control of the project really helped me feel more confident in my performance and how I’d look on camera. I’m so proud of him and feel extremely lucky to have his expertise at my fingertips!
Working alongside my brother, we had an phenomenal production team. Kevin Tobin of KT Creative designed the story board and really helped the song come to life. He’s been a big part of my creative team thus far and has contributed his talents to my album artwork, merchandise design, and other promotional material. Troy Maher, Cody Westman, and Thomas Kelly made up the rest of the camera crew. It’s amazing what those guys can do.
Apart from some of the cut away shots of Tupelo, the video was filmed entirely in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. In the coldest months of the year I may add haha. You could say it was a challenge when we had to look like we were performing during the summer in Tupelo, Mississippi, when we were actually driving around in a van with no heat, late November in Newfoundland. We filmed the wedding portion of the video in January, so everyone had to arrive in scarves and boots and then change into sandals! Despite the weather conditions, the whole process was a blast and an experience I’ll never forget. Everything you see on camera and behind the scenes were filled with people and places that I hold dear to my heart. The first scene is myself and my bandmates jamming in my shed. The room is filled with my family’s record collection, my old rocking “moose”, and tools that belonged to my great grandfather. When we fast forward to the wedding scene, we’re at The Masonic Temple in St.John’s, which is a venue I’ve performed at for years. The wedding party and guests were made up of my family and friends. My best friend, Jennifer Shears, did my hair and makeup. The sets, wedding decor, and costumes/gowns were all thanks to my friend Keith Roberts, Flaunt Decor & Design, and Ever After Bridal Boutique. It certainly took a village, but I think we did a great job pulling it off.
What can you tell me about your single "Tupelo?"
When I started choosing songs for my album, I knew I wanted most of them to be original music. That being said, if there were songs out there that really resonated with me, I was willing to sacrifice some of my own songs to make room. “Tupelo” was one of those songs. Ironically, “Tupelo” was the very first song that Sammy (Kershaw) sent along for me to take a listen to, and now it’s my first single! It’s a catchy summer love song with a flirty vibe and a really cool groove. I immediately loved the demo before I even knew who the writers were. I quickly discovered that Gordie Sampson, Hillary Lindsey, and Steve McEwan wrote the song, which made it even sweeter because they are the big guns in the country music writing community, and I can only dream to weave beautiful lyrics and melodies together like them one day. Hopefully with them! We initially released “Tupelo” on December 4th, 2015 to country radio and download/streaming sites. On the first day of the release, the song hit #6 on the Canadian Country iTunes Top Songs List!
How much fun did you manage to have making the video?
Fun would be an understatement! It doesn’t get much better than making music, filming videos, and partying at a pretend wedding with your closest friends and family. We got dolled up, goofed around with Photo Booth props, and drank champagne. We even got to snack on some wedding cake at the end of the night! We also had a lot of fun during the production meetings leading up to the filming. I wanted to have a comedic flare to the video without being cheesy, and we wanted to point out the connection between Tupelo and Elvis. So as you may notice, an Elvis bobblehead makes an appearance a few times during the video for that little something extra.
What was it like to work with Sammy Kershaw as your producer?
One thing I really admire about Sammy as a producer, is that he’s all about the song at its rawest form. It has to be a good song first without all the extra sparkle. He didn’t want to throw on too many layers because he wanted to make sure my voice stood on it’s own.
It was definitely very nerve-racking to meet him for the first time and then walk into Freeway Sound Studio with some of the most sought after, award-winning, and ridiculously talented musicians. I knew I had to make a good impression, so I did my homework, knew the material, and sang my heart out. Everyone made me feel at home, the energy was very positive and warm, and I cried many happy tears that day. Sammy was so excited and so proud. It felt pretty amazing to have someone of that caliber speak so highly of me. There were many moments where I really felt I was meant to do this. It was inspiring to be around them and it crushed a lot of doubts that I had for myself.
What lessons did he teach you as you recorded the record, if anything?
Sammy really emphasized the importance of capturing the emotion in the song. He never wanted to do more than 3 or 4 takes because the more you sing a song, the emotion starts to fade and you lose a bit of that power behind the story you’re telling. Country music is all about the story-telling. If you can’t make the story believable, then it won’t resonate with your audience.