Cape May has been the location for thrillers and lent its charm to novelists and painters. Now many of its candy-colored buildings serve as the backdrop for a new music video by Philadelphia hip-hop artist Alexander Charles.
Earlier this year, Charles shot his video for “These Days,” a song from his latest album Fortune Cookies, in front of various Cape May locations including the rainbow-painted front steps at Lokal Hotel, the porch at capeScape guest apartments, Victorious’s monarch butterfly wall, and the iconic Pink House.
“My videographer, Mike Oberlies, spent many summers here as a child, so he recommended us using Cape May as a backdrop to a song we felt matched its vibrance,” Charles told us via email. Inspired by a shared love of films by director Wes Anderson, they sought out a similar aesthetic and found it in Cape May’s “colorful architecture and eclectic vibe.”
Color was the primary reason they selected the buildings that appear throughout the video. “As superficial as it sounds,” Charles said, “we wanted to capture as many different hues as possible. Keep in mind, the video was shot during the height of quarantine, so we wanted to make something that felt like an ‘escape’ for the viewer. We basically just drove around town, and found businesses and houses that let us shoot on their property after just knocking on their door and asking.”
Filming took a whole day, though with so much of Cape May shut down because of the pandemic, Charles didn’t get to experience the town the way he’d hoped. Ultimately, however, that worked in his favor. “It felt like we had the town to ourselves for those few hours, and it was eerie in the best way possible,” he said. “Cape May has a charm and an altogether amazing feel that I wanted to reflect in our visuals.”
When we asked if there’s a chance he’ll be performing in or around Cape May in the future, Charles said, “Yes, absolutely! I can’t wait to get back to performing again in general, especially going down to Cape May. I am counting down the days until I can perform my album live!” We’ll keep an ear out for details.
“These Days” could serve as an anthem-of-sorts for 2020: a mellow tune with lyrics that call up burnout and uncertainty. But the catchy song isn’t a downer by any means, and the video’s cheerful color palette and easy-going vibe (replete with juggler, a friend of the videographer) steer it away from being bleak. If that’s how this year has you feeling, maybe give it a listen and take heart in the final lines:
“These days don’t love me, and that’s okay. Everything is gonna be alright. Everything is gonna be alright.”
Fortune Cookies is available on streaming platforms including Apple Music and Spotify. Learn more at alexandercharles.com.