Recently, my brother and I finally finished our music video of “Trees” by TØP, after a year in the making. It’s very similar to our music video of “Stressed Out,” as we dubbed in cinematography and lip syncing to the original track. Trees, if you’ve ever listened to it before, has a completely different feel in the message, theme, and energy from Stressed Out. I wrote a post years back on my interpretation of the lyrics from Trees and I wanted to incorporate that into our music video––however, we ended up with a story that involved Blurryface and fear and a setting that doesn’t fall too short of a mind palace.
Blurryface is a character the band’s singer Tyler Joseph created to combat his insecurities, anxiety, and depression––an alter-ego, essentially. Blurryface is not brought up at all in the song “Trees,” nor is it referred to in the album the song is found in, Vessel. Though I believe Tyler wrote “Trees” with a more spiritual, surreal focus and theme in mind, the song is interpreted a little differently in our music video.
While storyboarding, I decided to incorporate Blurryface as an illustration of fear, rather than an actual character. Fear is a quality that Blurryface embodies, and the character in the video learns to overcome that fear. In fact, “fear” is the red hat that the character wears. He puts it on, relying on Fear to take him into a different world, where he learns how to face Fear and disconnect himself from its power. He finds a spiritual strength and redemption in the forest (God) and shouts “hello” in celebration at the end when he throws off the red hat (Fear).
Fear, the hat, was what the character relied on to get to this place of the Trees. But when he throws off the hat at the end, he doesn’t exit the world of the trees right away. Now that he has found God, and therefore courage, he can dissociate himself from the Hat of Fear, which was used in the beginning as a portal of sorts to travel. In fact, the world of the Trees all happened in his mind. At first, the character thought he needed to go somewhere or do something to eliminate fear, but he traveled back to reality without relying on the Hat to get him there––and thus walks away with renewed confidence and sense of self, leaving the Hat on the ground. All it took was a mindful decision to rely on God and dispel Fear, and the throwing off of the Hat symbolizes that the character in the music video has accepted the truth that God has shown him and no longer relies on the lies of Fear to give him power. Now he can leave the Hat behind.
“Trees” was more difficult to film because of the style and composition of the song itself. It hits me deeper on an emotional––and oftentimes, a spiritual––level. Attempting to embody the right mindset while acting was tough. Also, when there are only two people involved, one of those being The Procrastinator (oh hi that’s me), the whole video took a whole year from start to finish. It was a long and painstaking process, but it was great to get out in nature and don the red hat again. A very big and special thanks goes to my brother, Michael, who is the only reason why “Trees” is complete to begin with, and the one who was constantly motivated to film and edit from day 1. Hats off to you.
So without further ado––the music video:
If you’re interested in watching our music video of “Stressed Out” from a couple years ago, you can find that post through this portal.