From sourdough starters to embroidery projects, the past year has left a lot of us clinging to the joy in the simplest parts of living, and that’s exactly what Keep for Cheap bring with their latest music video for their new single, “Forgive Me.”
The song opens with a gentle guitar melody and guitarist Kate Malanaphy singing, “If you listen closely you can hear the birds’ advice,” alongside their bandmates. The band’s setup, with members clustered next to their amps, looks almost like it could be a scene from a house show basement, as Keep for Cheap found themselves playing on countless nights not all that long ago.
However, instead of low-hanging water pipes and crushed beer cans surrounding the stage, the scene sprawls on to an idyllic farm on a late fall day, complete with a disaffected audience of goats and sheep. As the song builds in energy, the video shows Malanaphy and fellow vocalist Autumn Vagle sneaking around the farm and eventually getting chased off in a dreamy race away from an irritated farmer.
“[‘Forgive Me’] is about me being impulsive,” Malanaphy said. “I write songs to process what’s going on in my life, and, maybe, to teach myself to be more careful of the consequences.”
Keep for Cheap are a self-described “prairie-rock” quintet from St. Paul that formed in 2018 when some of their members met at Hamline University. “Forgive Me” is the group’s first single since the release of their debut EP, Get Along, in the fall of 2019.
Through their time at Hamline, the band became acquainted with the video’s director Abby Thompson. Thompson’s video work largely centers around create videos for communication with social justice organizations, but they’ve also branched into experimental types of storytelling through their filmmaking.
“A lot of my work is justice-oriented,” Thompson said. “It’s mostly important to me to know who and what communities I’m working with. Since I already knew Autumn and Kate from Hamline, it was exciting to get to work on a more creative project with them than I typically do.”
The collaboration between the band and the director is seamless and the warm personalities on screen come across effortlessly.
“Abby was so great to work with,” Vagle said. “Our band definitely needs direction sometimes, and they were always ready to pull things together to make it work.”
“On the day we shot the scenes with Autumn and Kate we had a couple key shots planned but then we mostly ran around, ” Thompson said. “A lot of what you see in the video is B-reel from the way things happened naturally.”
The video was shot on location at Sunrise River Farm in Wyoming, Minnesota: a family farm loaned by a friend of the band. Livestock meandering around the frames adds a unique charm to the video, though the animals weren’t necessarily taking any direction from the band or videographer.
“I parked my car in the middle of a field and there was road salt all over it,” drummer Lydia Williams said. “The goats were super into that, they thought it was a snack.”
“People in video always joke that working with animals is the worst thing ever like they’ll try to eat your equipment and make things complicated, but it was great for me,” Thompson said. “The family that owned the farm was super helpful and generous, they made it easy.”
As a viewer, it’s easy to get transported into the lighthearted, friendliness of the video and the band recounted the same feeling being present on the days spent filming.
“It was cold that day and they built us a bonfire to stay warm,” Vagle recalled. “We left at the end of the day with leftover jam and honey from the farm, it was so sweet.”
“Forgive Me” marks an important milestone in the band’s evolution, an entry into a new chapter following their debut EP.
“This year we’ve really taken time to reflect and develop our sound,” Malanaphy said. “We’ve been doing a lot of writing.”
“Our sound is getting a lot more mature,” guitarist Rob Northrup said. “It sounds more like all of us now than it did before.”
Given the band’s plans to continue writing, recording, and releasing music throughout the coming months, 2021 is sure to be a great year for Keep for Cheap fans, including Rodney and Verna, the pair of sheep standing front row at the exclusive farm show in the “Forgive Me” video.
Every other Friday we take a behind-the-scenes look at a new music video from a Minnesota artist. Send submissions to fridayfive [at] mpr.org!