Oklahoma-bred singer-songwriter JD McPherson released his third LP last October — Undivided Heart & Soul debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Americana/Folk chart — and now he’s kicking off 2018 with the video for the song that guided the entire set, which EW is premiering exclusively above.
“‘On the Lips’ is the first song I wrote after saying, ‘Okay, we’re making an album now,'” says McPherson, 40.
“Once I’d finished [the track], I’d convinced myself it was written for someone else, despite being so obviously autobiographical!” he adds. “Each of the two verses is a story about a time during adolescence where I felt like there was a cure for boredom and loneliness: first kiss, the first time music inspired me to sing, and maybe [when I started] a band or three. It’s an origin story, like in a comic book.”
For the accompanying clip, McPherson enlisted George Salisbury of DELO Creative (Broncho, the Flaming Lips) of his home state. “The song has a melancholy, surf twang to it. [So] early conversations with George led to the idea of “Goths at the beach,” and he ran with it,” McPherson says of the project development. “The finished product is so lo-fi and trippy. George’s style utilizes a lot of VHS loops, and other processes that emphasize the ephemeral side of video.”
As for the artist’s favorite aspect, he notes: “You might not notice right away, but all of the band footage was shot in slow motion. We sped up the track and performed to it, so when slowed down, it makes the action dreamier, in a subtle way. I love all of the background footage that George dug up. It’s vintage beach footage, but with gymnastics and a sea creature, it’s just absurd.”