6 videos in 6 weeks: Boykie’s Sam Stopforth chats mental health and his massive music anthology

Our mates over at Boykie have just done something pretty bonkers, to say the least. Kicking off with I Didn’t Have A Shower Today aka Episode 1, they’ve reimagined their 2017 EP Still Hiding by releasing a new music video for each track, one per week for six weeks (check out one of our favourites above, and the rest below).

Last week saw the close of the sequence with Through The Roof I Raised You, and the first moments lead singer, guitarist, and now director and producer Sam Stopforth was able to sit down in a good long stint.

Once he caught a breather, we sat down for a chat.

boykie interview

Would you release six music videos in six weeks? For Sam Stopforth and Boykie, it was just another project that nearly killed him.

HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

SAM: Hey mate! Arrived in Melbourne about three weeks ago so finally beginning to settle in.

HAPPY: So the obvious question first – why six videos in six weeks?

SAM: I knew I was moving to Melbourne halfway through the year and I think I really felt a sense of urgency to do something with my time that was meaningful to me, but above all else I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted put a task in front of me that seemed impossible from the get go, while also collaborating with the endless pool of amazing people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the last six years. The Perth community is teeming with talented and creative minds, and I wanted to tap into that in a way that would get people’s attention and breathe life into the Still Hiding EP we released last year.

HAPPY: What was the filming process like for the videos?

SAM: Absolutely insane. Manic. Ludicrous… but super rewarding. I wouldn’t recommend producing and directing in any one project at the same time (let alone six) unless you’re really willing to test yourself.

Although I was very lucky to have my manager Calogero Algeri help me out by co-producing all of the videos with me, he’s a machine, couldn’t have done it without him. He’s the reason our editors Samuel Evans and Ashleigh DeGroot got on board, and without them I shudder to think what the end product might have looked like. Also, because most of the cast and crew were friends of mine, the responsibility to coordinate the videos was largely on me, which left me no choice but to kick myself into gear, which thankfully in hindsight I think is exactly what I needed.

HAPPY: Did you run into any major roadblocks during production? There’s always a stitch-up somewhere along the line.

SAM: Just getting all of the people in the same room together at the same time was hard, and then on location at the right time. I had a massive wake up call as to just how hard the role of producing really is, not to mention coming up with all of the concepts, stories and shots on the day etc… I was very lucky to have some awesome people who always put in 100 percent on set.

The biggest stitch up I would say was when the bowling alley we had originally planned on filming Episode 1 at canceled the morning of the shoot. That was rather stressful, it was for such a bogus reason but we couldn’t really do much about it. I had to call about seven bowling alleys around Perth on the day but each one had their own set of hoops to jump through that would’ve taken weeks to finalise. I nearly lost hope until I was greeted by the most chill lady from Super Bowl Melville (the last place on my calling list might I add) who pretty much said, “Yeah come down around 6:30, we’ll sort you out.” And that was it, it was about a three minute conversation. They treated us so wonderfully and really saved us that day. Biggest lesson I learned from this was that having a location that’s accommodating is just about the best thing any crew could hope for.

HAPPY: How did Mind Mischief Productions start? What’s it all about?

SAM: Mind Mischief Productions is my brain child that I created to help facilitate my pursuit and love of film making. I see it as a vehicle of sorts that will grow over time as I find more and more people who want to create the same kinds of stories that I do. I graduated from WAAPA (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts) back in 2016, majoring in Performance Making (Acting, Writing & Directing), and at the beginning of 2018 I realised I really missed that side of me after focusing on just music for so long. So I thought, ‘What is a way I can leverage both of my skills into one giant passion project?’ And the ‘6 Videos In 6 Weeks’ campaign was the result. A R-EP release if you will, but in visual format. Something to give listeners another way to experience the music and provide further insight into the stories that dwell beneath the surface.

At the moment, Mind Mischief specialises in music videos but are also looking to broaden our creative exploits as we move deeper into the Melbourne underground and rally more creatives to join our cause.

HAPPY: Who else did you work on the video series with?

SAM: Well, because I had assigned myself the added goal of co-directing each video with a different local Perth director, I soon found myself in a situation where every video had a completely different crew – something I didn’t expect. It didn’t exactly make my life easy (laughs), in hindsight I must have been stark raving mad!

That’s except for a few regulars: Harry Vlachos of Bwana Jimmy Productions who we can thank for all of the killer drone shots, and was happy to change roles throughout each of the four videos he helped with; Oscar Ward from Four Ward Productions who worked on Episode 1 and 5 and who I knew from being cast as his lead in my first ever short film back in 2012 (best on set experience I’ve had to date); and finally Luke Parsons who helped out on Episode 3 & 6, who I immediately clicked with filming the short film Faceless he directed earlier this year.

I’m eternally grateful for the efforts from these guys. They are all people I can work with so easily and I’m glad we’ve stayed in touch over the years… more projects to come in the future I’m sure!

HAPPY:  Talk us through the last video, Through The Roof I Raised You. What were you trying to represent?

SAM: Okay… you asked! (laughs) I wanted to show a journey that starts from helplessness and ends in personal triumph through perseverance and a new-found motivation. For a little bit of context; I broke my foot back in May of last year – playing social basketball of all things – about three weeks after we launched our EP Still Hiding. The night of that launch was one of the best nights of my entire life; I was on cloud nine. An important thing to consider in all of this is that the boys and I had been sporadically recording this EP for over two years, and playing for another year prior. So to finally release something into the world was a very big deal and such a huge moment for us.

We ended up selling out Jack Rabbit Slims, had an awesome line up, and I think played the best set we’ve ever played to an adoring crowd. We had never been tighter as a band. So naturally still riding this high, I played down the extent of my injury and we stuck with the couple of shows in the month following that were already booked. But slowly as the weeks piled on and I realised I still couldn’t walk, no new shows came after that for a considerable time and my descent had begun. I couldn’t walk properly for over three months and we lost all semblance of momentum during a time that was supposed to be us our prime.

These events are what inspired the last video. I really liked the visual metaphor of this guy going through each stage of recovery in a condensed, uninterrupted timeline unfolding in front of our eyes.

HAPPY:  Why is mental health important to Boykie?

SAM: I think what happened last year after my injury had a major impact on my mental wellbeing in the six months that followed… I could have spent this time promoting our music online and still doing everything I could to push the band’s online presence and get our music out there. But instead I lay on the couch eating Nandos and watching Vikings all day, every day. I also got fired from my job of two years, crashed my car, nearly got thrown out my house, and a number of other events that happened even after my foot had already healed itself.

But even after all of this the funny thing was that as soon as I could walk again… I instantly put those 14 weeks I had spent on my ass doing nothing completely out of my mind, almost as if it never happened. It’s amazing what the mind can do unconsciously if we allow it to go unchecked. Only when I began to reflect and shine a light on these feelings, bringing awareness back into myself, did I start to really look back in hindsight and to understand how I had been treating myself and the people around me.

HAPPY: The track itself was recorded live on radio, what made you want to include it on the EP?

SAM: To be honest I just really liked the overall performance. I had no idea it was going on the EP when I went in for the interview. I think because it was all recorded in one continuous take, it felt like a far more authentic and raw snapshot of how I was feeling at the time. I did record a studio version with Andy Lawson (the mixing magician who recorded our whole EP) but after plenty of listening to both versions, I felt that the live recording was more real; I think I instilled a different kind of energy into each line and the end result was a much more dynamic and emotional performance. You can check out the video on the Live and Local 89.7FM Facebook page!

HAPPY: So what are your plans moving forward? Why Melbourne?

SAM: I’ve lived in Perth my whole life, it will always be my home. But now the time feels right for me to find my home away from home… I am going back to my roots to study acting at an international studio called 16th Street in Melbourne. I’ve been here two weeks now and I’m answering this in my new house as the campaign comes to an end, surrounded by people I’ve just met… it’s a huge reminder of just how much things have already changed, and will continue to. It really feels quite surreal, I can’t believe we actually did it!

As this chapter closes it really does feel like the end of an era and the beginning of something completely brand new. The whole band sadly couldn’t join me for the move over east so I think I’ll take a breather from recording and come back with new found ferocity and a fresh lineup to suit!

Hopefully I’ll find some killer Melbourne musicians who I can work on some videos for. It would be great to coordinate a music video anthology series for another act… now that we know it’s possible! This is the mission I have for Mind Mischief as we set our sites on Melbourne and this exciting but bittersweet opportunity.

HAPPY: Thanks for the chat!

SAM: Cheers guys! Appreciate the love.

Boykie out. xo