‘Even though the footage may take us to another planet, Lee always remains down-to-earth.’
At a time where many of us haven’t been able to travel abroad for months on end, a sense of escapism may be very much what we need. For some of us that may be going for a stroll in a woodland, heading to the beach, or doing something that consumes us so much that we no longer think about the confines of current life. However, in the case of the visuals for Lee Michael Walton’s ‘Photographs from Mars’ the focus is less on the literal and grounded, and more on the metaphorical and beyond-earth contexts.
Speaking about the concept behind the track itself Lee says ‘Photographs from Mars recounts a time in my life that was pretty wild! I had arrived in London at the age of 20, having lived in Wales, and it was one long party. I use the metaphor of ‘being on another planet’ which I think pretty much describes how I was at the time!’
Transferring this feeling into what we see on screen, an opening CGI newspaper shot tells the wider story of this exact moment and those that occurred after. Within this, there are also references to lyrical content with the direct quote of ‘cost me quite a bit’ and the name-checking of others involved with the release. This though, isn’t the only moment where we have a sense of connection between the two, something which may have come about in a more subconscious manner than you would think.
‘Whilst I wasn’t consciously thinking of the video at the time of writing the track’, says Lee, ‘I did have quite strong images in my mind that were part of the writing process. I often have strong images when writing music but it was quite a cosmic experience with this one!’
Shifting through the visuals, as if a nod to those feelings that Lee had the time, a montage of earth and space-based footage forms the bulk of content with noticeable, hitpoint-style moments. Linking with its relevant lyricism, aerial shots of our light polluted cities, airport arrivals, and rockets taking off occur at appropriate moments. Hinting at the world Lee is leaving behind in this metaphorical way is actual more successful to the overall story being told.
Meanwhile, footage of astronauts exploring, celestial bodies, and glimpses of the Mars Rover take us increasingly further away from our home planet. This blend though was just down to those images in Lee’s head, but through him working in combination with his team.
‘My manager Kenny D’Cruz and I co-produced the visuals along with Marc Hamill who came up with some fabulous footage. He’s very talented and while I was very involved, Kenny and Marc – who took care of the additional graphics -had some really brilliant ideas. I loved the idea of ‘Wales meets Mars’ and Andrew Lawson from Fieldgate Studios did the filming for this part. I was blessed to work with such a great team.’
Knowing that the majority of the video is stock footage, this change to original may strike you as a departure. And in a standalone context this would be a fair comment. However, the decision behind the inclusion of these moments makes them incredibly suited to the overall storyline.
Enhancing the moment Lee’s 89-year-old grandmother says, ‘What are you doing on Mars? Come home, it is much better for you in the valleys and I will make you a nice cup of tea’, seeing her on screen brings greater prominence to the phrase we hear in the track. This phrase though, isn’t just one of longed for comfort, but echoes the feelings felt by her when Lee was on his downward spiral in his twenties. The time that inspired that whole track.
Bringing the storyline full circle sonically is actually a rather clever stroke, but made all the better visually by us seeing Lee’s personality for the first time. Here, in the closing frames, he sits, dressed in a spacesuit adorned with the Welsh flag accompanied by his grandmother, both enjoying that longed for cuppa. Sure most of the footage may be harnessing life on another planet, but this is, in fact, the most down-to-earth of conclusions.
Thanks Lee Michael Walton for chatting with Listen to Discover