“For Love to Grow” is a call to humanity to take a look within their hearts and see whether love is growing or not. Tree leaves and branches will often die, depleting energy from the living parts of the tree, causing the tree to let go of the dead parts, falling to the ground. By shedding it’s leaves and branches, the tree is able to make space for new growth to flourish. In the same way negativity and hate take away the life giving energy of love, peace and happiness. The song is a call, to “cut out the negativity” and “make space in your soul, for love to grow”.
In trying to capture this theme for the music video, the obvious metaphor was to show a bunch of trees and plants in growth, but the narrative needed more layers. While traveling in Bali, my wife and I went to the spiritual town of Ubud, a place of vegan restaurants, rice patties and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Before visiting the forest, I didn’t really have the highest expectations because I thought is was just another tourist trap. I saw the videos of tourist holding bananas in their hands and monkeys climbing up on their shoulders and heads and thought it was a dirty gimmick, dirty cause monkey’s are little filth balls. Well guess what the first thing I did when I got in there was? I paid for the damn bananas and had a big ole monkey climb on my head and it was awesome, dirty yes, but a moment I will never forget. With hundreds of macaques monkeys through out the wildlife sanctuary and various Hindu temples built in 1350 providing an incredible backdrop, the Monkey Forest was the perfect setting to film much of the music video.
Armed with my GoPro Hero 4 and Feiyu Tech video stabilizer I set out to capture monkey magic. There was a sweet moment in which I caught a mother monkey grooming her baby (Clip 1:34) and another comical monkey grooming display in which the little guy is sprawled out on his back in bliss, while his friend picks out the bugs (Clip 2:37). But something I didn’t quite realize about monkeys until I was closely observing them is how much they like to wrestle and fight. Like the song says, “If you’re acting like an animal you got to grow up” couldn’t be conveyed more accurately than watching two monkeys trying to steal fruit from one another (Clip 1:06). The monkeys represent the animalistic nature of man while at the same time these primates can show the most tender affection to one another. I was thrilled to be in their world for a little bit and have them as my co-stars.
Naturally a song with so many tree metaphors needed some footage of amazing trees and for one of those shots I only had to drive a few hours up to Calaveras Big Trees State Park in the California Sierra Nevada mountains. Known as some of the largest and oldest trees in the world, there was a massive Sequoia tree that had fallen in the park. The tree’s trunk was so large it was like walking through a cave and as I walked through it I recorded the sky above, literally filming from inside a tree (Clip 4:32). Yeah walking through a tree was pretty cool but I wanted to capture some really great roots to illustrate “That you will grow stronger if the roots are good”.
I had to travel pretty far to find trees with quintessential roots and my search took me all the way around the globe to Fraser Island on the Central East Coast of Australia. Fraser Island is the largest island made of sand in the world and it is full of fascinating creatures such as rare birds, poisonous spiders and snakes and the adorable and misunderstood dingo (“A dingo ate my baby”). It is also home to some incredible Banyan trees with roots that grow up the entire length of the trunk (Clip 0:40). I had found the perfect tree with the perfect roots, but like I said before I needed more narrative layers for my music video than singing in the trees.
While still in Australia, I needed to create a visual contrast from all the nature shots and downtown Melbourne’s famous graffiti walls of Hosier Lane provided a colorfully rich, urban background. From a 20 foot tall tree mural (Clip 0:16), to the heartfelt message “Home is where the heart iz” (Clip 1:23), to the mural of Sulley from the animated movie “Monsters Inc” (Clip 3:12), Hosier Lane is an epicenter of human expression and creativity. The art piece that perfectly captured the song’s line “If you follow the corrupt you got to grow up” was the “Pirate Empire” poster of Fox News propaganda kingpin Rupert Murdoch (Clip 2:19). The Australian billionaire pioneered modern Western propaganda through his News Corp newspapers and position as Founder and CEO of Fox News. It doesn’t get more corrupt than this dude.
To tie it all together, I brought the production back home to Los Angeles to film at the “Love Wall”. This bright red wall with the word “love” in graffiti letters covering the entire surface, was the perfect backdrop to communicate love in an urban street style. Because I was in my hometown, I could bring out my Gretsch hollow body guitar “Cathy Ann” (named after me mum) and have my buddy Paul Bajerczak come out and shoot some video for me (much better than selfies with my GoPro). The red background of the Love Wall was a striking contrast to all the rich green nature shots and created a metaphorical tension between the concrete jungle and the real jungle.
“For Love to Grow” initially started as a love song for my wife with lines like “We spent time in the wild, learning bout love and life”. However, as I was writing the song the message of love took on a deeper meaning and became a celebration of love for every human, animal and tree. To let go of pains from the past, to allow the heart to evolve and adapt, shedding the dead parts to give birth to the new.