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Michelle Mandico Offers Hope on the Slopes in Picturesque ‘Ptarmigan’ Video: Exclusive

Michelle Mandico
Kristen Castro

Michelle Mandico

Michelle Mandico grew up on the ski slopes in Colorado and during a difficult time in 2015, she found solace as she skied on the empty slopes alone on Christmas Day 2015 at Loveland Ski Area. It was here that the song “Ptarmigan,” which Billboard premieres the video for today (March 11), came to her as she contemplated a challenging time she was going through personally and with her family.

The stripped down acoustic-guitar based song features Mandico’s delicate vocals as she contemplates her place in the world. "I'm alone again/ A lone wolf again/ I'm alone again in my mountain home," she sings on the song’s chorus. In the video, she returns to Loveland Pass for another day of skiing alone. During this trip, video producers Kristen Castro and Allie Mac filmed the moment over three days while they had the mountain alone to themselves.

"It was a simple yet grandiose effort in capturing the space in which the song was birthed out, getting on the slopes to capture what I experienced the day the song happened,” Mandico tells Billboard. “My hope is that this video as a visual story conveys the metaphor that this album has become for me. The courage and awareness to speak up about the blind spots that depression can cause and in contrast to the bright wide ideas that artists flow through, often times quietly riding the ups and downs of life, purpose and existence."

During another ski trip with her mother, Mandico learned what a Ptarmigan was. As they were loading onto the Ptarmigan Lift, her mother explained that a Ptarmigan is a mountain bird that changes colors with the seasons from dark to white.

“I thought about how fitting that sounded as a metaphor for my own life, as an artist passing through shadows with light and darkness. I turned to her and said, ‘Mom, that's the name of my next record…Ptarmigan!’ That was the same day I replaced the repeated chorus lyric ‘a lone wolf again’ with ‘I’m a ptarmigan in my mountain home,’” she adds.

Ptarmigan was executively produced by Luther Dickenson and released in 2018. The video for the title track is below.

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