Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
In a time when getting some is as easy as sending a quick late-night text, it’s often difficult for women who want more than just a casual fling to speak up and demand more for themselves. Twenty-six-year-old pop singer Sam Creighton, however, has had enough of settling. Her anthemic new single, “After Midnight,” is a fierce rejection of those who don’t value her: “You only call me after midnight,” she sings, “When you can’t help yourself.”
The accompanying music video — directed by Spencer D. Evans and premiering exclusively on Refinery29 — finds Creighton stuck in the same dance (literally) of going back to the same guy over and over again whenever he calls. In the end, however, Creighton decides that she is through being “only good for a good time” and dances triumphantly on a bed to the soaring pop track’s powerful reverberating drop.
“I don’t care if you’re lonely,” she roars in her rich alto. “You should know that I won’t be.”
Refinery29 spoke to Creighton about quitting her job to pursue music, her journey to self-acceptance, and her hope to inspire to other women with her message.
Refinery29: “After Midnight” is so powerful. It feels like the biggest step yet in your career.
Sam Creighton: “I feel like I’m going downhill on a two-wheel bike. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s just so relevant right now. Especially in this political climate, with the #MeToo movement and feminism on top of everything and in everything, this is a kind of anthem that says, ‘We’re done with this treatment, and we’re going to start loving ourselves and respecting ourselves.’ I just feel like that’s such a timeless concept.”
How did the idea for the song come about?
“I was sitting with friends, and we were listening to Lianne La Havas’ song called ‘Midnight.’ I had just gotten out of a really horrible relationship, and I decided to download dating apps and see what would happen. I got this message on Tinder — of course — at 1 a.m. It was literally the quintessential ‘U up?’ text. I remember literally throwing my phone down, so fed up, hearing ‘Midnight’ and saying, “You know what, I’m going to write a song, and it’s going to be called ‘After Midnight,’ and it’s going to be about how all these fuckboys text me after midnight. I’m sick of it.”
The visual is such a nice pairing to the song, especially the theatricality of it. How did you come up with this concept?
“When it finally came down to how we were going to [shoot the video], I just thought it would be cool to dramatize an actual experience that I had. The first phone call in the video is basically when you’re answering [a booty call] and expecting a different outcome — you’re optimistic that he’ll like you or validate you in a certain way. I loved that pink girly outfit because I would literally never wear that, but if you’re in a man’s world that’s exactly what he would want the girl to show up wearing.
“The second phone call is kind of like my moment of enlightenment, where I know what I’m doing, I’m self-aware at this point. I guess I’m just going to go over to his place again because old habits die hard. By the end, I’m like, ‘F this! I don’t need a man. I respect myself,’ and I just go dance by myself. That’s a very dramatized version of what has happened to me in the past. In real life it’s a lot more tears and self-doubt.”
The dance element with your fellow musician Will Jay was a really cool way to help illustrate that story. Do you have a dance background?
“The only dance background I have is choreography in my a capella group, and then I did musical theater all throughout middle school and high school. The dance was the part I was scared of, because Will is literally such an incredible dancer, and I had a certain vision for how the dance would go. We hired a choreographer, and it turned out so much better than I could’ve ever imagined. But he really pushed us. Will got the moves right off the bat, but it was a lot harder for me because I am not a innate natural mover. But I really thought the moves that we were doing painted a nice picture of what was going on inside my head.”
In this song you’ve got someone who’s stuck in a cycle that’s hard to break out of, and in the end she manages to finally break free of it, which is so difficult. Do you have any advice for women who can’t seem to find their own agency?
“My advice would be just to decide that you are worth it — that you are worthy of love, self-respect, and self-love. This is going to sound crazy, but I was in such a hard place, I read so many self-help books, and the only thing that helped me was to look at myself in the mirror every day and actually tell myself: I am beautiful, I am worthy, I deserve everything good. And that’s what it took.
“The first time I did it I remember crying and thinking how stupid it sounded, but then I realized that my problem was that I didn’t even believe it. But I kept repeating it [over time] and slowly started to believe it,. It’s so freeing when you get to the point where you don’t need validation from anyone else. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not preaching this as someone who’s figured it all out. It’s still a process for me, but it’s definitely been the most rewarding process I’ve been through in my life thus far."
You went to college for behavioral neuroscience. How did you get into music?
“[My college a cappella group] was the only musical outlet I had. I’ve always loved music and wanted to pursue it, but my parents wanted something else for me, so I wanted to appease them by doing the behavioral neuroscience thing. But about two years into it I just found myself putting all my time and energy into the a capella group and slacking on the classes, which was a huge sign for me that I wasn’t doing the right thing. I just wasn’t happy.
“After college I worked at a huge pharmaceutical company for two years, and I would go into work every single day doing the same thing. I was just miserable. One day I went into work and I said [to myself], “‘You know what, i’m going to move to LA.’” That idea was inspired by [the fact that] I was on a TV show with my a capella group produced by John Legend, called 'Sing It On.' I moved to L.A. three years ago and have been focused on music ever since."
What’s next for you?
"After this video and song [are released] I’m going to start performing at the top of next year, which is really exciting because I haven’t been doing that for a bit, and I also have a follow-up single called ‘Smile’ and it’s about being cat-called. I’ve been on this anger and empowerment kick. It’s fun.”
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.