‘Bittersweet’: Making a music video with Olivia-Amy Lockwood and Only Girl

25 Apr 2018

Ellen Murphy (Only Girl) and dancers Meshach Henry, Lydia Cowcher and Jack Butler in ‘Bittersweet’

One Dance UK’s Marketing and Communications Assistant Charlotte Constable spoke to choreographer member, Olivia-Amy Lockwood, and musician Ellen Murphy (aka Only Girl), about their collaboration on the music video for Bittersweet.

You can watch it here:


C: Ellen, tell us about your new track, Bittersweet.

E: I wrote Bittersweet during a difficult time in my life, when I was trying to adapt myself to huge changes. Following on from writing Mountain about my boyfriend suffering a brain injury, Bittersweet was about us re-entering the real world, trying to adjust to the huge difference we faced in our life. Despite his recovery, it was incredibly hard to accept the different course that our lives had taken – ‘so bittersweet’ – and I realised that one of the only things that could keep me going was being uplifted by the love and support of those around me. I wanted to write a song that could reach out to anyone who had gone through a challenging time in life, to make them feel uplifted, and ultimately bring the message that the power of love can sometimes be the only thing to pull us through.

C: Olivia, how did you and Ellen begin your collaboration?

O: I came across Ellen’s music towards the end of last year. I really enjoyed watching how she moved in the video for her single Stone; I figured someone [a choreographer] had already got there before me, but I decided to contact her about a collaboration. She got back to me super-quick. She’d had some funding for a video from the PRS momentum fund, and told me that she’d always loved dance. It was the perfect time.

C: How was it working with each other?

O: In the Stone video, it was Ellen’s natural movement that I’d picked up on, but she’s really into watching dance and has an awareness of it looks, both in videos and live work. Ellen told me she’d loved doing GCSE dance, but had not really danced properly for a long time. I would invite her to watch rehearsals, and she would watch for about five minutes before asking to join in! She’s a joy to work with because she’s really uninhibited about her movement.

E: I absolutely loved working with Olivia. She completely reignited my passion for dance, and it was such a pleasure getting to know her and really feed off her passion and enthusiasm. She’s also an exceptional dancer and choreographer and her interpretation of my song was completely spot-on.

C: What was your vision for capturing the song’s message in the video?

O: I felt responsible for doing something that was right for Ellen. I think the dancers were a really important part – I wanted to create a sense of support for her. That was the main stimulus of the choreography; a sense that people ‘have her back’. But we didn’t want it to be too ‘hands-on’ or pushy, like Ellen was being manipulated; more like they would pop up when she needs them, offering her the strength to keep going. Ellen was also quite keen on the word ‘bittersweet’, so we worked with the two contrasting words within that same word to give moments in the choreography where it’s quite strong and sharp, and others where it’s free-flowing.

C: Olivia, assuming the song came before the choreography this time, have you ever choreographed as a song is being completed, or even before it exists?

O: The song did come before, but Ellen was mixing it throughout, so we didn’t hear the final mix until two or three weeks before did the shoot. Ellen is very vocal though – she sings a lot! – so you get a sense of what she wants as she works. With some artists, I’ve been asked to create something before I’ve even heard the track; with others, I’ve heard the track and had to create something the day before it’s needed. It can be a very fast turnaround.

I’m currently working on a dance film with no music at all; all the movement is being generated based on different conversations I’ve had, different references, and the coaching from the directors.

C: What’s next for you both?

E: I’ve just released the EP on London indie label Lemon Records, which I’ll be launching with a special headline show on 3 May at Thousand Island. I’ve also just recorded a live acoustic version of the EP which will be out in May, with a new single to follow in the summer and another EP later in the year. I’m looking forward to working with Olivia again on some more movement pieces for the visuals, as I’d love to continue incorporating movement into my music.

O: I’m working on videos for two artists: Niomi; and Holly Walker, a vocalist from Maribou State. And as Ellen says, hopefully another video for Only Girl in the summer as well! In addition I’m working on a short dance film for LeMoon Production Company; I’m creating movement for their film Wake, which should be shot on Dartmoor, so that should be quite magical.

C: Olivia, as a freelance choreographer for commercial work and music videos, do you have any tips for budding choreographers looking to pursue similar work?

O: I was initially unsure how to get into this field, so I reached out to [choreographer] Holly Blakey. She was very humble and gave me the opportunity to shadow her while she was working. I thought she would be too busy to get back to me at first, so I think it’s important to be optimistic, but have no expectations.

Holly said this to me – if you really want something, it is there for you. If you really think it’s possible to do it, you will make it happen. Now [my commercial work] is building momentum, and I think that’s just through being a go-getter and not waiting for people to contact you. [After all] I contacted Ellen!

Bittersweet is the title track from Only Girl’s new EP (which also features the singles Mountain and Fall ft. James Vickery).