The first music video that Dan Bettridge remembers watching was Blink 182’s ‘What’s My Name Again.’ The one where they run down Sunset Boulevard naked.
“I do love a good comedic video,” he tells me, “Some proper jackassery is always fun.”
However, his latest video for sublime single, ‘Blame’, doesn’t run in the same vein. It’s the second half to a duo of videos, paired with the soothing folksy tale of ‘Heavenly Father’. Together they tell the tale of a tested relationship facing crime, corruption and their own conscience. The warm autumnal tones of the powerful visuals, combined with the raspy distinctiveness of Dan’s vocal barely stop the chill that runs down your spine as the story unravels.
‘Blame’; a gentle piece of melancholic soul, flecked with wistful melody and a pleading bite, is “a warning really.” A song about the internal struggle to becoming a better person, Dan explains; ‘It’s pretty basic in it’s idea but had been bottled up inside me for a long time until I knew how to communicate it constructively, so by the time it came out it felt pretty potent.” The track, that reads as a cynical heartfelt letter almost, is written poetically in raw first person. He doesn’t hide behind a character or peek in on another tale, instead he lays out his own. Lyrically, “It’s more or less a culmination of conversations I had to have a lot of times,” He says, “Looking back on it I was trying to make people feel special, for them to see how amazing they were, but when it came to sticking around I didn’t have the capacity for it at the time, so I just ended up undoing any good I might have done. I can hear the tiny violins from here…”
It’s potent. It pulls at the heartstrings in a different way to most songs, for the connection is so real. The language that has been chosen so delicately means that you can almost see it; your version of the person that Dan speaks of, before a fire flickering as the words fill your ears. Represented visually in the video, it shows the protagonist “trying to do his best, trying to provide – albeit in a pretty destructive way ultimately. But it’s the only way he knows how and it’s better than doing nothing.” They add a new dimension to the multi-layered track and two part series.
“For me, when watching music videos of an artist I love, the magic of it is feeling like you’re getting an insight into the mind of that person even more so than just solely listening to their song. If they had anything to do with the production that is.” Dan says, as a fan of cinema both old and new, something that reflects in his videos.
The video was directed by his dear friend, Rhys Davies. “Rhys’s imagination is wild, he’ll come at with me all sorts of ideas, night and day. Believe it or not this one of the slightly less dark ideas!” Dan says, “He’ll float me something I like the sound of and we’ll go from there, changing it and adjusting it to fit what I want to see. He’s a really great guy to work with.” He even has a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cap, which was popular on set.
Whilst this saga may have come to a close, it’s clear that Dan Bettridge has the music video bug and that his songs will be able to be delved into further. Why not? “It’s like making a 3 minute thriller with a killer soundtrack!” It also creates great social media content – as Dan was able to prank his old school friends into believing that the plot was real.
Words by Tanyel Gumushan