The Artist Explains: Matthew Mayfield - 'S.H.A.M.E'

Matthew Mayfield talks to us about his gritty single and music video, ‘S.H.A.M.E’, which is a call-out to the self-righteous who say our shame should stay hidden and not discussed. A call for empathy and the freedom to talk about struggles.

Where was the video for ‘S.H.A.M.E’ filmed?
We shot most of it in Birmingham, AL which is my hometown. So many incredible locations that showed up beautifully well on 16 mm film. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to shoot on analog film. So much grit without losing the warmth.

How does the video connect with the song?
This video is the most powerful piece of art I’ve ever released. Shame is something we ALL experience in this life, but very few folks are vulnerable enough to put it out there. The characters are all sharing various “shameful” experiences. An inmate who made one mistake that he can’t shake, a veteran with severe PSTD who can’t escape the bullets, the bombs, and the blood, a woman who has resorted to prostitution out of desperation and can’t believe she’s stooped that low. Shame is toxic and oftentimes it’s lethal. We need to be able to rid ourselves of that poison which is why I wanted this to not be simply a video release, but a full-on campaign.

Do you have any behind the scenes stories you can share with us?
The shared vision between myself and the director Greyson Welch was written in the stars. They dumped pounds of dirt of me and put me in a car that was ACTUALLY on fire. We had to have a pyro tech out of frame at all times and the Fire Marshall was on set as well. The smoke bombs in the car were the real deal so they just said “hold your breath as long as you can until you fall off the car.” It was a hell of a ride, but incredibly worth it. We filmed the inmate scenes in Martin Luther King’s actual cell in Birmingham where he was held in ‘63 and penned “THE LETTER.” I get chill bumps every time I see him (Fred Weaver) behind those bars.

Could you tell us about the ideas/themes/imagery used?
The list of images and metaphors is endless. At the end of the day, the video is all about exposing the darkness and letting people in on OUR secrets. That’s step one.

Is there a message the video is trying to convey?
Step two is to break the silence by offering not just a song and a video, but letting people know they’re never alone. Ever. No matter how heavy or painful the situation is... you are never alone. I wanted to build a website to let people share their stories anonymously. It’s such a vulnerable, yet empowering experience to let it all out. All the shame anchors around our necks need to be cut and released.

Interview by Karla Harris

Matthew Mayfield has partnered with Love Is Louder to donate proceeds from ‘S.H.A.M.E’. Love Is Louder is an organisation founded by his friend, actress Brittany Snow, to foster a supportive community/space to ask for help and/or start a conversation about dealing with shame, being mistreated, being isolated, and being misunderstood