Noël Wells Leaves the Past Behind on “Follow Me”

When Noël Wells found herself reverting back to an earlier love—music—the actress, comedian, filmmaker, and former Saturday Night Live cast member, who also starred in Netflix series Master of None, and directed and acted in the 2017 film Mr. Roosevelt, started unraveling her multi-genre storybook, playfully traipsing through vulnerabilities, cathartic moments, and sharply documenting some sense of renewal on 2019 debut It’s So Nice!

Videos by American Songwriter

“Follow Me,” one of the more intimate songs on the album for Wells, lingered and was one she needed to revisit, and re-release, with a visual component. “The re-release feels very appropriate for the time, as we’re re-emerging into a changed world” says Wells. “The lyrics really are about someone going through a rebirth.”

She adds, “The song’s journey follows someone who has been disconnected from their body and soul after a traumatic event, who eventually leaves the past behind and chooses their freedom, inviting people to follow.”

Deeply introspective, the song, a follow up to Wells’ 2020 re-released rendition of Bill Withers’ 1977 classic “Lovely Day,” unraveled more in its visual story, directed by Christian O’Keefe and Michael Priestley of Overlay Films. Dreamier sequences reveal clouded pictures of a life’s journey with the directors paying homage to some more tranquil moments on film, including the swing scene from Satyajit Ray’s Charulata, also loosely depicted in the closing of “Follow Me.”

“For the music video, I knew that I wanted something that reflected the song and felt organic and poetic,” says Wells, “and we traded music videos we loved from Fiona Apple and John Lennon.”

Noël Wells (Photo: Nora Zehetner)

For O’Keefe and Priestley, they wanted to capture something more transcendent with “Follow Me.” 

“It begins in an intimate and vulnerable place, but by the end feels like you’ve floated into the sky and landed emotionally on another planet,” says O’Keefe. “That struck a chord with us and became the roots for the visual journey we wanted to take. In the song, Noël is paving the way for a future that isn’t tethered to the past. It was important to us that the video mirror this shift in perspective with Noël acting as the guide.”

Priestley adds, “This ethereal climax is starkly different from the video’s grounded opening and to us represents the potential for rebirth even when we weren’t trained to jump for joy. We hope that people will love our video as much as we do and see it as a fitting companion to her wonderful song.”

When the directors pitched the music video, Wells instantly knew it was the missing element to her story, and the perfect visual reflection of her song. 

“It felt like it mapped this journey perfectly, from this disconnected voyeuristic long shot to this last setup in an intimate CU on the swing,” says Wells, “a fun and heavenly sequence that invites the viewer to live in a shared joy.”

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