Grace Larey directed the music video for Faith Longo's song "Backwards" in preparation for the HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Playlist 2018 show.
Every year, HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET program holds their famed Playlist show, which features student musicians and singers performing some of the most popular songs of the year and some original songs as well, working in collaboration with the MMET Media students who specialize in film and live TV Production. Both MMET Popular Music and MMET Media majors are able to combine their talents during this time as the annual shows provide the opportunity for music videos to be made for the original songs, all created and produced by the students.
Faith Longo, a senior in the MMET program, recently had her original song "Backwards" produced, getting it featured in the Playlist 2018 show along with an original music video directed by Grace Larey, a junior in MMET. I interviewed Faith about the creation of her song, the production of her music video, and her experience as a musician and writer.
Faith Longo: Vocalist and Guitarist
Caitlyn: How did your song “Backwards” evolve since its first chords to its final edit?
Faith: Like pretty much every song I write, “Backwards” was created because of a major event in my life. I always start with a feeling, and then try to emphasize it with the chords I use. Plus, I’ve always really loved poetry, so the lyrics for “Backwards” came mostly out of a small poem I wrote a few days prior. Unlike most of my songs, I tried to first create it on piano, which I think is why it took me over 5 months to really finalize it; it never really felt right. Around November I finally went back to it and tried again on guitar instead, and that’s when I really had that “yes!!! This feels right!!!” moment. I met up with Atreyu I think the very next day; he suggested the strumming pattern and helped add bass, which made the song sound a lot fuller. Honestly though, my favorite part of the whole process was probably making harmonies. I’m not the strongest instrumentally, so adding those harmonies was like adding my own little flare. After all that, Simmons got to mixing and added more electric guitar, drums, and percussion which helped make my song really come together. Everytime he sent me a new mix it was like opening up a Christmas gift. Not only that, but Simmons incorporated the super groovy reverb effects to give my song a ‘backwards’ effect (HAAaaaa). I’m so so grateful for Simmons, I don’t think my song would’ve had nearly as much impact if it wasn’t for all that he did.
C: Who was involved in the creation of your song?
F: Atreyu is usually the first person I go to to get critique on what I’m writing. He’s my best friend and so incredibly talented so I know I can always trust him. I had my good friend, Denise, record vocals on the song too since her voice blends so well with mine. Simmons did the most with my song though. He helped bring out and emphasize every feeling, and it was super cool collaborating and using the ideas that he had along the way.
C: What was your experience filming your music video like? What is it like to watch film and your song merge together?
F: Filming my music video was so cool! I loved collaborating with Grace, Drake, and Chase on new ideas. Not gonna lie, I have a low tolerance for cold already, so some scenes were pretty hard to shoot. I’d have to sing and try my best to seem calm and warm despite my teeth begging to chatter. But it was all so worth it once I saw the final product. It was incredible seeing everything come together so perfectly. I felt like the video really complimented the tone of the song, and it was able to visualize the message in a new way it would have never been able to just on its own. They even put in little details to highlight some of the lyrics! Overall, they all did such a great job on the video, and I feel like it fits so well with the song. I also really appreciate Drake for having the courage to get into freezing cold water with me, he’s a true homie.
C: When did you begin singing and following music as a passion? How did this happen?
F: I’ve always loved music. My mom used to sing me lullabies, and my dad would play his guitar all the time around the house. Music is so important to me. I feel like it’s a way to connect with people on a deeper level, and it’s a type of therapy for me too. Having my emotions in a physical form is really helpful for me in letting go and not dwelling on things. When I got my first ukulele in middle school I started really diving into music though. Without an instrument I was limited to just creating acapella songs, but that ukulele opened a whole world of opportunity. I started playing and writing songs almost everyday, and through freshman-sophomore year I released around 3 unofficial E.P.’s on soundcloud. MMET has really helped me grow the most as a songwriter though. Because of the support and tools given to me in the program, I feel really confident in still pursuing music outside of high school.
C: You have been a member of the Academy of the Performing Art’s MMET Pop, so how has this program shaped you as a musician and performer and what are the most valuable things it has taught you?
F: MMET has helped to bring me so much more confidence as an artist, as well as given me the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented individuals. Before MMET I really didn’t have anyone to collaborate with (or the confidence to ask anyone). Now I’m friends with so many musicians and performers; it’s so easy to just call someone and start playing or writing together. Plus, being able to perform on such a big stage in front of such a big crowd is so incredible. I feel so much more confident now as a performer because of that. Being in MMET also means that music is everywhere. I’ve been immersed into a world of melody; people are always playing and sharing songs, and it’s so cool as an artist to have so much inspiration around you all the time. In many ways, it’s not only grown and evolved my relationship with music, but it’s also shaped the way I listen to it. I’m able to notice the little bass lines that weren’t at my focus before, and really appreciate the complexity of little details artists will sometimes put into their songs. Overall, as a performer, an artist, and a listener, MMET has taught me so much.
C: Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
F: I really love Dodie for a lot of reasons. The way she uses language and literary devices to really highlight the messages of her songs is so cool to me, and musically I really admire her style. Honestly though I listen to so many artists that inspire me everyday. Some of my favorites right now are Leon Bridges, Natalia Lafourcade, Harry Styles, Kali Uchis, and Fleetwood Mac.
C: Why do you enjoy creating and performing music? What role does music play in your life?
F: Music is an emotional outlet for me. Whether it’s just singing along to a song in the car, or transforming my emotions into a song; music is that one constant force in my life. Every song I’ve listened to has its own memory sealed onto it, and for that reason music plays an even more personal and intimate role in my life. Not only that, but music is a way to connect and help others in a more meaningful way. It helps people to make sense of the world, to stay grounded even when everything around them may be in chaos. It gives people hope, unity, and freedom. Music is so special, and so important. Literally, everyone listens to music, even if it’s just the beat in their hearts.
C: What obstacles have you faced as a female teenager in pursuing music?
F: Personally I haven’t faced any huge obstacles, but I could easily see how others may feel that way. Automatically, some people think that guys are stronger instrumentally than girls, which can really hurt their self confidence in pursuing music. The music industry is pretty male dominated instrumentally too, while females are usually reduced to just vocals. Because of that, supporting and recognizing female songwriters today is extremely important, especially since females make up less than 20% of the songwriting world.
C: What advice would you give to others looking to pursue music? Any last thoughts on music or being a woman in the arts?
F: Stick with your gut; if you know in your heart where you want your song to go, be confident in standing up for your vision! Being open to critique and collaboration is also extremely important in growing as an artist. Most importantly though, never stop listening to music. Support other artists, go to concerts, and always keep your ears out for inspiration.
Follow Faith on Instagram!
Founder and President of the Heart2Art Project