Sean David Christensen is both a talented musician and creative filmmaker. He has worked on several projects including an experimental documentary based on a true story called The Duel. He earned Vimeo Staff Pick in 2018 because of that. The Hammer Museum, SXSW, the San Francisco International Film Festival, and Pictoplasma Berlin have all shown his work. His filmmaking abilities and experience have been recognized as both magnificent and rare.
But, another very notable thing about Sean is his knack for producing music through his experience-driven lyrics. “I Miss the Old You”, his new single, features collaborations between friends and fellow creators. A mix of artwork, sound, and personality. Together, they created something meaningful and definitely a must-hear. A graduate of Visual Anthropology, Sean has the knowledge and combines science and art through the challenges of culture. No wonder he’s able to build a connection with the world through film, art, and music. All in a way where people can enjoy and be inspired from.
“I Miss the Old You” is a song that is not only about missing someone and how things used to be between past relationships, but it’s also about missing who one used to be. Maybe we’re missing our once happier selves? Or the times when we were still free and innocent from all of the unpleasant circumstances that the world has brought us.
The song represents looking back yet closing the door of the past, forgiving ourselves and others, then opening the door to new opportunities, new beginnings, and new chapters in our lives. It’s a song you can listen to while going for a late-night or early morning drive, while you’re staring at the sunset, meditating with the breeze greeting your face, and so much more. In this exclusive interview with Sean David Christensen, he gives us a closer look at how he identifies his artistry, his inspirations, and more.
The song is wonderful! I love the country music vibe to it and the lyrics are relatable and really meaningful. Can you tell me what inspired you to write “I Miss the Old You”?
“I Miss the Old You” was originally inspired by an R&B/pop song I wrote with my band Maggie Dave. During rehearsals with my bandmate and songwriting partner Mark Christopher, I got into this goofy routine of warming up my vocals by singing a country twanged version of the main lyric: “I miss the old you…” I would yawn into the first vowel shape, like I was swinging a door open.
It started off as a joke, but I continued to dig deeper into what those words meant and found the emotions I unearthed to be very resonant within me. Growing up, I connected with the earnest feelings I heard in country and folk music my parents would play, artists like Patsy Cline and Paul Simon. This song is a way of me going back to my childhood, listening to my heart and singing along to what feels natural.
Growing up, I connected with the earnest feelings I heard in country and folk music my parents would play, artists like Patsy Cline and Paul Simon. This song is a way of me going back to my childhood, listening to my heart and singing along to what feels natural.Sean David Christensen
As an artist, singer-songwriter, and filmmaker can you share some of the most fulfilling things you’ve done in your career?
Though I work across film, visual art, and music, the common thread that strengthens my disciplines is creative collaboration. I cherish opportunities working with others, because their gifts lift up whatever we make together higher than I ever could’ve reached on my own. With Maggie Dave, working with the animator Cassie Shao is that type of an experience, where her visionary way of depicting color and movement define our music. The trust is implicit, and it gets stronger the more she explores every motivation – knowing that we’ll support her every step of the way.
The lyrics seem to suggest someone reaching out and being ignored, apparently due to irreconcilable issues with the other. That sure is so relatable. What inspired you to write the track?
I’m the type of person who carries a lot of regrets on my shoulders, and this song is my attempt to forgive myself for holding onto painful situations or abusive relationships longer than I should’ve. When I sing “I miss the old you,” I’m not only addressing the fictitious other in this song, but I’m also singing to myself…questioning myself for continuing to care about someone who’s clearly spinning outside my orbit, further and further away. You can only reach out to someone for so long before you start to wonder if they’re even there, or if you were reaching out to an “idea” of a person instead. A version of someone you wanted them to be.
Though I work across film, visual art, and music, the common thread that strengthens my disciplines is creative collaboration. I cherish opportunities working with others, because their gifts lift up whatever we make together higher than I ever could’ve reached on my own.Sean David Christensen
I’m really fascinated by the art of the song and how the lyrics are well written. Can you explain who “the old you” is missed in the song? Is it for someone who is missing their old self and who they used to be, is it referring to missing someone from your past, or maybe both?
The cover art was created by Bella Porter, an exceptional singer-songwriter, photographer and artist (she can do everything!) who I met through the folk music scene in Los Angeles. She created this dreamy illustration that captures the impermanence of relationships and memories.
Speaking of, “the old you” can be interpreted both ways. I feel each person carries a piece of the other in the relationship, whether it’s a friendship, family member or a lover. You each carry the weight of expectations or responsibilities, but no one is the same after you share yourself with someone else. Perhaps missing “the old you” is longing for a time before those pieces get heavy or misshapen, before things become unbalanced. “I miss the old you” could be longing for a past version of that person that never existed. It was all aspirational.
Who are your biggest inspirations and encouragement as you continue to pursue your dreams and live out your career in the entertainment industry?
I’m inspired by my friends who commit themselves each day to thoughtfully collaborating with others and helping their peers as they grow in skill and confidence in their craft.
With “I Miss the Old You” out, what can you say to listeners who might have this song as their theme song towards someone they are missing?
If you’re having trouble letting go of someone, ask yourself why those memories are getting stuck? What’s holding them within you? If there’s love there, and you found joy or wisdom with that person, hold onto those gifts that you discovered together and say goodbye to everything else. Holding onto someone who doesn’t want to change doesn’t help either of you.
You can only reach out to someone for so long before you start to wonder if they’re even there, or if you were reaching out to an “idea” of a person instead. A version of someone you wanted them to be.Sean David Christensen
I’ve read that you’re a graduate of Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California. It’s amazing how you used your knowledge and talents to create incredible work. Can you share more on how your school and course influenced your passion for art, film, and music?
My education as a visual ethnographer challenged me to listen to parallel truths that exist within our world and the embodied culture and practices of others. It made me a better artist by acknowledging the interconnectedness of human experiences and questioning the myth of the singular “auteur.” It takes many hands and hearts to make something a reality, especially a film or a song. What I hope to have taken from my time as a student and giving it back to my music, is the practice of listening and reacting together.
As the year continues to go by, what future projects are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to seeing more live music. I’ve missed it!
Watch “I Miss The Old You” below.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Agatha is a college student taking up Psychology and a blogger who loves her dog and mom. Music is her way to find inspiration, excitement, and creativity in writing and in life. She dreams of becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor someday. For now, she helps people by sharing good music that uplifts and makes them deeply feel their vibes.