Jon McKiel’s new video for ‘Brothers’ the second single off of his upcoming album Memorial Ten Count hits close to home. Filmed in McKiel’s hometown of Amherst, Nova Scotia and his current home of Sackville, New Brunswick in the midst of winter it’s a familiar landscape you might mistake for anywhere right now. It’s the sprigs of colour that make life standout: the field of windmills, the curious wayside attractions, and naturally, Grandma Josephine the River Queen.
They say we all look the same with the lights off, and that’s probably true. I’ve never really bothered to check. I imagine the world isn’t so different in monochrome either, and for the next three months it’s going to look that way. The landscape has being lost under a blanket of white. It might be a bit drab, but there’s a solidarity to it.
This is the picture filmmaker Colin Medley paints as they travel from Amherst to Sackville. It’s a gray landscape pocked with the quiet remains of industry – the kind you’re always surprised to discover are still in business. Frankly, all of us are out of season just now, and if you’re going to find colour of any variety the place to look for it is on the inside.
“It’s a familiar voyage for me,” says McKiel, “I wasn’t sure we’d have a video for the song going into it. Colin medley filmed it and I just took him to Amherst because I knew there was some beautiful stills he could get of old buildings (he loves those).”
‘Brothers’ is full of colour, or at least the highlights one learns to spot when you know what to look for, and a past that McKiel only alludes to. Travelling back to his childhood home seems like dusting off a set of memories. While you may not always want to pull every box out, there are always a few you need to at least push out of the way.
“I wanted to film my nan because she’s amazing (and also the song is at least partially about her). I haven’t shown it to her yet, though she knew I was filming her for a music video. I think she’s fine with being a queen and a loud mouth, but I think she’s also into irreverence. That song deals a lot with family stuff. It speaks to my relationship with my father, his greatness and weakness, and presents Josephine as his foil. You could say he was polarizing; he was definitely a strong presence and had some dark energy. The record is named for him. The Memorial Ten Count is for him. It probably fit the narrative though because there’s a tenderness and bleakness to that place.“
It’s a quiet moment of Canadiana, a reminder that we’ve all got a history, and wherever you’re coming from it’s still going to be cold out tomorrow. McKiel’s album The Memorial Ten Count is due out March 10th, 2017 on You’ve Changed Records / Headless Owl Records.