As a relationship ends, the time to reflect on it (and yourself) is in that moment. From this, Los Angeles-based artist Ocean Pleasant wrote the song “Always Been You,” a soft blend of vocals and guitar that illustrates the tender end to a relationship of passionate but misplaced love. Today, six months after the song’s release, she shares the music video for “Always Been You.” Adolescent Content spoke to Ocean Pleasant and the video’s director, Anastasia A. Antonova, on its premiere.
Adolescent Content: “Always Been You” touches on such a poignant experience of love not so much lost as it is nonviable, and all of the emotions that come with that. What was the process of writing the song?
Ocean Pleasant: To be completely honest, I kind of just sobbed into a voice memo for an hour, slept it off, then transcribed and arranged it the next day.
Adolescent: “Hurts less to say / You got away / Than simply admit / It wasn’t a fit;” Why do you think that is?
Ocean: When you fall in (or out of) love with the idea of someone, you eventually confront the ego’s attachment to a specific outcome. For years, it felt easier to blame “bad timing.” The turning point was when I realized that I wasn’t waiting for their love—I was waiting for mine.
Adolescent: “Always Been You” is a vulnerable contemplation of love and relationships. What’s your approach to accessing and conveying vulnerability in your music?
Ocean: That’s a great question. I used to get stuck on, “How honest can I be if I end up releasing this song?” But vulnerability is nuanced. We’re taught to compartmentalize, but at what cost? It’s a daily practice to make sure my sensitivity has a seat at the table. Our brains literally change details every time we recall a memory, so on a neurological level, giving yourself permission to be vulnerable in real time can result in a more streamlined artistic retelling.
Adolescent: Do you find that in songwriting it’s easier to write about certain emotions and experiences than others?
Ocean: Finding the right words may have more to do with whether or not I’m ready to be honest with myself.
Adolescent: “Where we came from / Where we’re going;” I’m interested in hearing about your juxtaposition of the past and future of a relationship that you’re writing about retrospectively, after it’s already ended.
Ocean: It's reassuring to know my experiences are literally timestamped in the music. No one can ever make me question how real something felt at the time, not even me. That makes it easier to retroactively tell a story.
Adolescent: The dynamic acoustics of “Always Been You” are a step away from electronic danceable tracks you’ve released in the past, like “Party Trick.” Was this a conscious shift?
Ocean: “Always Been You” was a tender nightcap to three years of misplaced love. I wanted to strip down the sound to reflect that. And it’s funny you should mention “Party Trick,” because both of these songs were written about the same person. They’re just sonic timestamps on the beginning and end of our story together.
Adolescent: You collaborated with director Anastasia A. Antonova on the music video. Can you describe the vision for the video? How did it all come together?
Ocean: Anastasia’s visuals and my soundscape mirror each other closely across different mediums. That’s such a special creative connection that I’m really grateful for. My favorite texts from her always start with, “So I have this crazy idea…“
Anastasia A. Antonova: When I heard Ocean’s single, I knew I wanted to make a video for it. I was initially inspired by trying to use those materials in a similar abstract way. My process for music video concepts is usually to listen to the song a few times to get a feel for the vibe I’d like for the video and then read the lyrics a few times and see what imagery comes up in my head. It’s my favorite part of the process, because I get really meditative. Sometimes, I’ll ask the artist what the song means to them. I’ll listen for concrete images they bring up, which is always really rad because then I have an initial reference to incorporate that’s also personal to the artist. The image Ocean brought up was a lily. Knowing I wanted to work with a small scale and being initially inspired by Michael J. Fox’s series Plastics, the lily was the piece that created the initial vision of flowers melting out of ice cubes.
I’m an eco-conscious content creator so I always have materials lying around to make art with, and I had the blue backdrop and a bunch of plastic wrap I’d salvaged. The use of water and flowers in other scenes came from that initial idea of frozen florals. We had my initial treatment, but a lot of it grew organically (no pun intended). Being limited to my house and unemployed due to the shelter-in-place orders actually created a beautiful little container for us to improvise and imagine. It really did feel like we were little kids playing.
Adolescent: The freezing and melting flowers were so picturesque. Is there a particular significance of the floral imagery in the music video?
Anastasia: One thing I love about working with Ocean is that she always looks for how to amplify the thematic elements behind a dope shot. It’s pushed me to be intentional about the story behind any creative decision. I initially wanted to do the scene of flowers thawing out of ice, like love thawing the parts of ourselves which are frozen. She suggested that over the course of the video, they melt and freeze again in reverse, to convey how uncertain love can thaw our vulnerable, tender parts and how heartbreak can tragically freeze them back up again.
Adolescent: What’s in the works for you, moving forward? Are you working on any new music at the moment?
Ocean: My next single, “Undone,” drops at the end of the month with Chance Peña, followed by another video with Anastasia. It’s a privilege to continue creating with her on the visual front.
Anastasia: We’re currently wrapping up the video for her next single and look forward to collaborating more in the future! Independently, I’m working on a photo book of portraits centering water, the sun, and Earth.