Feature

Celine’s video for “Call Me” is a relatable relationship power play at first glance, but a brave coming out at its core

The process of picking up your first instrument to learning your first scale, playing your first three-chord song (something from the current pop charts no doubt), to becoming good enough and confident enough to put together your first band, is something every musician must work through.

Every process is unique to every musician, because every musician has their own motivation. And the motivation behind the music is a continually evolving process in itself.

For 23-year-old songstress, Celine, the release of her latest music video for her recently dropped single, “Call Me” is an official coming to terms with her sexuality and coming out to the world, and she takes time out of her lockdown schedule to chat to me about it.

Her musical journey started 12 years ago, “I started singing when I was 11. I was actually quite a shy person,” she starts, with only a hint of shyness. She giggles innocently and adds, “It sounds so cheesy to say but through music I kind of found confidence and found my voice. And becoming more confident in music I found out that’s what I wanted to do. When I was 13, 14, I picked up guitar, and then I picked up bass at a later stage.”

For most musicians, especially in the earlier phase of their career, the side-hustle is a necessity. For her, the side-hustle is about expanding into other areas surrounding the entertainment industry, “Last year and the year before I was studying social media marketing and digital marketing courses which I really enjoyed, and I did it to help with marketing the music. I like to be busy. I study acting as well, so I go for castings during the day-time… living the dream,” she jokes.

Pre-corona era, Celine was a regular on the wine farm and restaurant gig circuit. She’s also made television appearances, been playlisted on KFM, appeared in the Huisgenoot, and even made her Up the Creek debut this year — she’s had a very fruitful and lucrative career.

Her confidence as we talk about her music and her career is extremely evident, so I steer the conversation in a potentially less comfortable direction: the coming out music video for “Call Me”.

She’s completely comfortable when she starts, “It’s the first time I’m gonna be open and honest about it. It’s something I’ve decided I feel ready to do. This is the first bit of my work that really just puts it out there.”

I ask how she felt watching the final cut of the video for the first time and she confesses, “I really loved the way that the director handled the whole situation, how he just kinda put everything together in a tasteful way. It came out in a way that I felt true to myself.”

But being satisfied with the video didn’t come without its doubts however. “Initially, I was really excited and determined to do it but after we filmed it, I had a lot of self-doubt, and I was really nervous that maybe I didn’t make the right decision. I felt a bit overwhelmed for a few days after I filmed it until it kinda settled, and I was like, “Okay Celine, you know what, this video is gonna come out great.’”

She continues to explain, “I think it’s normal for the self-doubt to kick in I guess. I tend to overthink things but now I’ve come to terms with everything and I think it’s the right time and the right decision.” 

I wonder if, before the decision to film and release the video, she had already come out to friends and family and her answer is straightforward and honest. “I am open about it to the majority of my close friends and some family, but there are definitely some family members that don’t know. I’ve been slowly opening up about it over time. But I think some people have probably figured it out by now,” she laughs.

“I got sick of holding back a part of myself,” she sighs when I ask about the motivation behind her coming out. “It happens in everyone’s own time but I’m finally at the point where I feel ready. Also, for me when I was younger and trying to figure things out, what really helped me was to see other artists open up because I could relate to them. And essentially, as musicians, we wanna inspire people.”

Directed by Rash Ferguson, the music video deals with the power dynamic in a relationship where the intensity of love isn’t reciprocated equally. It captures the vulnerability, the frustration, the uncertainty and the emotional burden of an unbalanced relationship in an honest and tender way.

It’s a well-packaged love story that we can all relate to, but at its core, it’s a brave, mature coming out to the world.