By Sara Waber
If you frequent this site, the moniker UNCLE MEG should sound familiar to you. However, if this is your first time joining us WELCOME! and be sure to check out my first feature on her here. But let me (re)introduce you to the creative triple threat that is Uncle Meg. Uncle Meg is a West Virginian born, Brooklyn-based rapper best known for her videos and lyrics in the all female Hip-Hop trio-Hand Job Academy.
I’ve been fan-girling over Uncle Meg’s second music video release for the track “For A Second” and had the opportunity to talk with her about the process.
Play Too Much: Last time we spoke you said that your “Uncle Freestyle” video showed the quirky side to you but that the EP has “some stuff on there that’s a lot more emotional, honest, & raw”. “For A Second” is definitely different than “Uncle Freestyle”. What was it like making this video compared to your first official video?
Uncle Meg: “For a Second” is definitely more emotional and raw than ‘Uncle Freestyle’, but we still had so much fun making it. I always have so much fun making videos and being around super dope people that want to be involved in my art. The main difference from this video to the “Uncle Freestyle” video is that I was actually shooting all of this footage as well, even for my lip sync parts. I just set up the camera, took a focus mark and pressed record.
PTM: Where was this video filmed? Give us an idea of the day(s).
UM: The video was filmed in my homie, Meagan Hester’s town of Ossining, NY. Man, it’s a different world up there and the Hesters rule the damn town too. Meagan was legit gonna call the local cops and let them know that we were filming all over the town and to be cool about it. Her father lives in the upstairs of a local funeral home, that’s where we filmed all of the indoor scenes. A dusty attic in the top of a funeral home, the mattress, the television, the desk, were already there. We actually drove up from the city around 5pm and shot on the way up to Ossining. We found a random gas station on the way and literally just walked in and started shooting and the dude was cool with it. The rest of the night scenes were shot right around Meagan’s house. She lives literally right outside the walls of Sing Sing Maximum Security Prison, so I wanted to make sure I got some shots of the prison towers as well.
PTM: That’s so cool. Things are definitely different in smaller towns so it’s cool in all worked in your favor. How did you come up with the video concept?
UM: The video concept was a story I wrote one night based off the feelings I felt in my last relationship. There’s something about driving and being in the suburbs at night thats so nostalgic and almost primal to me. The events that take place in this video are not exact in nature to what happened in real life, but I wanted to capture the feelings I felt through the two actresses. I feel like I’m such a masochist sometimes, and I stayed in something that was super toxic to me for such a long time because part of me liked the pain and the highs and lows. I wanted to show these highs and lows in the video. Kind of like a tornado of emotion. I hate you one minute and the next I love you. I wanted to shoot outside of New York City because I wanted to show a town and locations closer to home and to my heart. I grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, and I wanted a small town and run down suburban look just like from what I remembered growing up. As a teenager, 17 years old, running around the streets at night being bad, searching for anything to make me feel alive and free. And that’s exactly what I was searching for out of that past relationship, to run wild and careless again with zero consequences. I loved the drama and it made me nostalgic for those days when I was 17 years old, snorting pills, and running crazy through suburban wasteland. And I loved those tortured feelings until I bottomed out on them. One day I woke up and I was like, shit, I’m 25 years old, I need to grow up, this is so painful and unhealthy.
PTM: It must have been cathartic for you to be able to make this video that represents so many of lived feelings. I noticed that you direct and edit your videos. Do you have a background in filmmaking?
UM: I do direct and edit all of my videos and have a background in filmmaking! It’s what I do to pay the bills and to pay for my music!
PTM: Dope. What’s it like to direct and edit your own videos?
UM: I love directing & editing my own music videos, and in the case of this video, I even shot the whole video. I’m such a control freak and nerd, I love having as much control over my own personal vision as I can. I bought this new camera with my homie April, a Sony FS7, and became OBSESSED with shooting with it at night in super low, natural light. So I knew what look I wanted to have for this video, I knew what lenses I wanted to use, I knew how I wanted to edit it. I already had a plan for all technical aspects of the video before even recording the first shot, and that calms me.
PTM: From one control freak to another, I feel you and I love doing all the same things: planning, producing, editing. It’s the best! What was the hardest part and most fun part to film?
UM: The most fun part to film was the gas station scene, because we literally just walked into that place and did whatever we wanted, just like the scene said to do in the story!! I think this helped my actresses (Ashley Lawwill & Millz Serrano) too, because it was just so weird and random to just walk into any random gas station without any pre-planning and start trying on souvenir clothing and stealing junk food. But that’s usually just the way I shoot. “Do what I want always. Do what I wanna do I do this shit regardless.”
The hardest part to film was all of the physical stuff between the two actresses. The tackle outside the house, the slap in the face, the Cheeto kiss. I probably made them tackle each other like 4 times. The tackle I ended up using was a total accident and the slap I used was a real slap. The only way to make it look real was for Ashley to literally just smack Millz pretty hard in the face. I had those two beating each other up pretty hard, but they had a super cool attitude about it and we had a ton of fun and laughs while doing it.
PTM: Who do you want to shout out for helping make this video possible?
UM: SHOUT OUTS!–
1) My homie, Meagan Hester, for letting us use your wonderful, unique town. For making us little beds to sleep in at night and for all the laughs and memories you gave us.
2) My actresses, Ashley & Millz. You two were amazing to work with and had great attitudes the whole time, especially for all the weird shit I made you do to each other.
3) David for helping to keep my ass organized with the shot list!!
4) My girlfriend, Clara, for always inspiring me and supporting me all along the way.
5) Shout out the universe for the lessons you give me that I need to learn. For putting the right people in my life at the right times. For awareness and growth and raw emotion.
6) Shoutout to Erin Tonkon for making this mix BUMP