Wild Child’s new single “Sinking Ship” is so personal to the Austin, Texas group’s Kelsey Wilson — “The percussion is literally a sample of my heartbeat,” she tells Billboard — that making a video for the track was going to prove tricky. But it was director Matt Smuckler who came to the band with an idea for chronicling a young couple thick and sometimes violent thin of their relationship in the clip, premiering exclusively below.
“It’s as much of me as I can put into a song, so I was really excited that someone wanted to come in and do something special for it,” says Wilson, whose sister Helen Messenger stars in the video. “Matt painted this picture through all these scenarios of this couple that really tripped me out because there were things I’d done in my life in every single shot — sitting outside, shooting cans with BB guns, getting a drunk significant other into the show to get them sober, right down to the liquor they’re drinking. Every single shot was something I’d done before with the person the song was about. The first time I watched it I couldn’t breathe, especially watching my sister act it all out.”
Wilson also didn’t get a chance to see the video until it was completed, since Wild Child’s touring schedule kept her from attending the shoot in North Carolina. “I never met the director, I didn’t know any of the crew or anything,” Wilson recalls. “To have a song that was so precious to me just blindly be like, ‘OK, you make all these emotions in the story come to live and I’m not gonna be there…,’ that was hard. My sister was kind of like my spy on the set. She called the last night after they finished shooting and said, ‘You’re gonna be really freaked out.’ There’s just a lot of weird, heavy things about it, but it felt as good seeing the final product as it did hearing the final product when we recorded it.”
Wilson does confirm that the subject of the song is no longer in her life — though she notes that “it’ll be very difficult to convince him that I didn’t write the whole about him…The song is heartbreaking, but it’s also beautiful and happy. It’s just about coming to terms with a situation and learning from it instead of being upset.”
“Sinking Ship” hails from Wild Child’s fourth album, Expectations, and is the group’s most successful release yet, with more than 20 million streams on Spotify. The group returns to the road on Jan. 16-17 in Denver, but Wilson says that she hasn’t stopped writing since Expectations‘ release and wants “to focus a lot more on writing now” and is, in fact, planning a solo album called Sir Woman in the new year. “I’m working with a bunch of cool people I wanted to work with for a long time,” Wilson says. “There’s a lot of R&B and soul — it’s kind of a gospel record, in a way. On (Expectations) I was able to put more of myself into it than I did on past records, so I’m really, really excited to take that even further. I try to put as much soul as I can onto these ukulele songs I do (with Wild Child), but there’s a limit there. So I’m gonna go big on this (solo record).”