The 22-year-old Johnnie Mikel gears up to release his debut album by dropping “Nothing to Lose” and its accompanying music video which premieres today on American Songwriter.
The video brilliantly contrasts flashbacks of a loving relationship with the darker scenes of someone desperately trying to move on. Mikel’s props of older technology, including a polaroid camera and cassette tapes, aid in evoking a longing for the past. But this cultivation of a vintage feel appears to glitch between the past and the present as Mikel focuses on leaving his former flame behind.
And at the end of the video, a physical flame consumes all of Mikel’s mementos from the relationship allowing him to walk away.
Overall, however, this music video portrays positive feelings towards young love and even a desire for simpler times. Mikel splendidly represents the experience of that first love you had that ended all too soon. Read below for American Songwriter’s exclusive Q&A from Johnnie Mikel about the song and video.
What inspired the song?
“Nothing to Lose” is a melancholy song about reminiscing on being young, in love and having nothing to lose. I wanted to make the track reflect not only that concept, but that feeling… even though it sounds happy, there’s a lot of yearning in the lyrics. It’s about thinking back on a time when you were fearless in giving yourself — because you hadn’t been hurt before, and you had nothing to lose. You thought it would last forever.
Who produced it? What was the recording experience like?
James Michael produced this song, as well as a lot of the other music I’m releasing this year. Although the song was written in Nashville by Blair Daly and me, “Nothing to Lose” was recorded in LA with my band last fall. It was SUCH a fun experience having the live band feel in the studio. Not only is every member a killer musician, but they also double as my best friends. It was a super open environment, to be honest, and creative. The time we spent in the studio is something I’ll never forget — it was no doubt the best musical experience I’ve ever had!
Whose idea was the video treatment? Who directed the clip? Where did you film it?
The video concept was written by a combination of the director and me. We bounced a few ideas around, but I knew I definitely wanted an “all-American” vibe with the vignettes of the couple and a deep storyline. After several conversations and brainstorming sessions, we landed on the final concept of me obsessively reliving a relationship… the good times, the bad times and rewinding to get back to the start. Eventually, a fire breaks out and destroys the films filled with memories, as well as the room. To me, it kind of represents cleansing and letting go. The video was directed by Andy Tedder and was shot just outside of Nashville, in my hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Any great stories to share from the video shoot?
There were SO many amazing and hilarious memories from the two-day shoot. I think the most fun to shoot was either the car wash scene or the fire scene. In the car wash scene, the water was SO cold, but we were jamming to ’00s hip-hop tracks the whole time. My dog, Ruby, was running around having the time of her life! My other favorite scene with the fire was also a blast – it was filmed super early in the morning, around 3 or 4 AM. I definitely did not get any sleep that night, but it was so worth it!
What do you want people to take away from the song? How about from watching the video?
I love this question! The main thing I want people to take away from both the song and video is nostalgia and a melancholy feeling. I would love for people to think back on their youth and past loves. That’s part of the reason we used older technology in the video, it has a very timeless appeal!
What’s next for Johnnie Mikel?
I’m going to be releasing a LOT of music this year and doing some (virtual) touring. A lot more videos are definitely on the way. There’re honestly several things in store — stay tuned!
Watch the exclusive video premiere here.
Photo credit: Andy Tedder