We recently chatted with London based artist, Lewis Knaggs. Over the years, Knaggs has become known for directing and producing stunning music videos and short films for iconic artists and brands. Now Knaggs is bringing his compelling storytelling evident in his visual work to songwriting.
Driven by a piano riff, his latest single “Hold On” tells a story of how your past can shape your future.
Check out what this multi-faceted artist had to say about directing, his upcoming EP, and more.
Excerpt from the podcast:
When did you first get interested in directing?
I kind of got into it by making videos for my own music back when I was 17 or 18, just left school, borrowed one of my Dad’s cameras. He had one of those DSLR cameras that could also shoot video. I just played around with it, messed around. I guess, over time I got pretty good and started doing it for my mates and started doing it for other people. That turned into other musicians and clients. I started working for a youtube channel a couple years after me making videos for my friends. Then I used a music video to try to get a job at this youtube channel. The rest is kind of history from there, really. I learned a lot of stuff from various directors that I was working alongside with. It has kind of gone from there.
Are there any tips and tricks or advice that you picked up from those directors?
Yeah, I suppose it’s just seeing people working with artists and working with people on set. The main thing for me is that some directors can be quite stressful on set and it can be quite a stressful environment, but then some other ones I worked with run a really nice, lovely, tight ship where everyone is happy and peaceful. Things might go wrong, but you kind of just make good out of it. I guess the main thing is just keeping it positive and relatively stress free as much as you can. And keeping a calm head in times of stress on set. Then you come out with a better product if you are working with artists or any kind of talent. It keeps them calm and you get the best creative moments when you are staying positive within a certain degree.
What made you make the jump from directing to music?
It is quite a natural progression for me, like I said, starting off making music videos for my music . Music and film has always been kind of related, making scores for films and things. Music is heavily involved in film. I’ve always done both, so they sort of compliment each other. When I’m making a music video or I’m making a film or whatever it might be, I always think about the music for it. Even when I’m making music, I always think about what the film could be.
When you are writing music are you thinking what the visual could look like and does that play into how you’re writing?
Yeah, it kind of does. I don’t necessarily think of the video while I am writing. I will write a tune and once I’ve written it and produced it up and I hear it, that’s when I start to see the visual. I would not say there have not been times where I have been writing and have been thinking that would be a cool video for this lyric or a lyric might inspire quite a cool idea for a short film or the music video. Definitely.
Is there anything that you’ve learned from filmmaking that you have been able to implement in your songwriting and vice versa?
That’s an interesting one actually. Maybe subconsciously you do. I think there’s definitely something in that. I suppose if a certain song has a certain kind of feel to it it might inspire a certain way of making a video or making visuals for it. Yeah, it’s a tricky one there.
You have just recently released your single, “Hold On.” What was the inspiration behind writing that song?
There are quite a few influences flying around for that tune like Cold War Kids, Gang of Youths, some Jack White. There is a studio over in North London where I work. That is a place where I can go and hang out. No one really knows about it other than me and a few people. We can just spend loads of time there. Those chords for the song came out of a really nice piano that is in that studio and I just basically built it up from there. The song is about looking back at your past and seeing how your previous experiences in life can shape your future. I guess some people always run away from their past, run away from something in some way or trying to progress forward at least. It’s a song about accepting that and using those experiences to make you a better person in lots of ways.
Listen to more of our conversation from Lewis Knaggs on Episode 6 of our podcast.