Sep 16, 2019

Won't Know Yet, a single and a story

This music video commenced filming right after our Kampung (village) wedding in Sabah, Malaysia. My husband and I actually have been married for two years already, but my family insisted that we come ‘home’ to do the traditional ritual. I’m half Malaysian, or more specifically, Kadazan-Dusun, one of the indigenous tribes of Northern Borneo. My mom grew up living in a stilt-house overlooking misty paddy fields, endless exotic fruit trees, and water buffaloes. It is customary to go through the motions of what it was like to prepare a meal in the Kampung on your wedding day. With my whole family as eager spectators, we pounded and sifted rice from their husks, then cooked it in a cauldron over an open fire. Everyone in my family goes through this ritual wearing their traditional, black velvet Dusun baju (clothing) that I’m wearing in the music video.

We submitted a new song (also semi-spontaneously) for release and was anticipating it being up on Spotify a week into our trip. The second day in, the boss at the company I only began working for two months prior WhatsApped me to say that they didn’t need me anymore. I was super shocked and upset by this news. We were sitting on the couch in the living room and I turned to my husband and said, “Do you wanna just make a fuckin' music video?” So we did.

We brought our Sony A7III on the trip, which I primarily use as a still camera. We thought that a nice gimbal would make the recordings look 1000% better, so we found a used Ronin-M on Facebook marketplace and the day before our wedding, met up with a seller at a KFC – which is hugely popular in Malaysia!

We didn’t know if we’d have time, but immediately after our Kampung wedding, we ran out to a field by the ocean and filmed a few takes with my cousin. We thought this was the only opportunity we’d have to film because the weather forecast said that for the next 7 days (the remainder of our trip), that it would be intermittently raining with thunder and lightning, and my family had loads of sight-seeing planned.

Everyday we were terrified that we wouldn’t get another opportunity to film, so between doing family stuff while we were on our family road trip, we would run outside and quickly shoot for an hour in the morning, or right before the sun went down. We were able to take advantage of some of the places we visited like the Canopy Walks in Poring and going to the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. The shots in front of Mount Kinabalu were some of the hardest because the forecast said it would start raining at any moment.

The scene with the ‘claw’ was also shot up in the mountains. We found a beautiful gated off area and hopped the fence. As we got there, we were immediately penalized. The scene was perfect – and also it was swarming with hungry mosquitos. Not just any mosquitos, but MASSIVE tiger mosquitos. So big that they could poke through my outfit. We did two takes and ran the fuck out of there.

The scenes during the ‘do do doo’ section were done about 100 feet from my cousin’s house at a decommissioned paddy field. We started walking through the forest to get to the dry land, but Sammy, not realizing it was a bog, ran right into it with the camera and gimbal and started sinking like quicksand. I guess my cousin and I should have warned him haha. When we filmed at the bog, we counted 8 wild dogs that were hanging out and barking at us and one rooster that followed them around. Whenever the dogs barked, the rooster would cockadoodledoo. Watch the scene after the video if you want to hear the ruckus.

We wanted a spectacular place to record the last chorus parts. It was already Saturday and we only had one more day to film and were getting super nervous. A friend of my cousin’s told my cousin about this dope campground by the river. We went there, and luckily the campground people were super cool with letting us film. That sick-ass tree house with the swing over the river was just completed a few weeks before we got there. We were so fortunate! These campground people were so chill, they even let us go swimming in the river at sunset.

It FINALLY rained like cats and dogs on our very last night. The thunder and lighting storm was so intense, that the power went out more than 10 times at the 5-star resort we were treating ourselves to. If you look closely in the claw section, those flashes of me in blue are actually real lightening! Our balcony had a great vantage point of the spectacular thunderbolts.

Let me tell you; filming this was an intense AND great learning experience for both of us. My husband shot the music video while simultaneously trying to learn how to use the gimbal. Getting used to using and holding the gimbal with our camera was a challenge, too, since it was really heavy, we didn’t have time to take breaks, and didn’t have a convenient stand. We didn’t have an external monitor so a lot of shots were guess and check. We didn’t completely understand what focus settings were proper the first couple days of shooting. Not having an external monitor made it hard. We tried using Sony’s wifi protocol, but the lag and quality was only good for seeing what was on camera. We also tried getting a ND filter, but unfortunately, all the good camera stores were about 45 minutes away from where we were staying, and it was too hard to get there. We’re not lighting geeks, and didn’t have any reflectors or external lights, so anything lighting-related was a bitch. This was also our first time trying to color correct outdoor shots in different locations where the lighting changes so dramatically, so editing was quite trying to say the least.

I hope you all enjoy this video and my love letter to Sabah. It’s an incredible place and if you ever decide to go, I can recommend the best food places near Kota Kinabalu and Mount Kinabalu.

We can’t wait to shoot our next video, it was a lot of work completing this project in 12 days, but goddamn, it was a lot of fun. My husband and I make a great team and it was awesome getting to work on a new kind of project with him. We hope you enjoy our music video and we’d love hear what you think. 🐓