Dynamic BC-born, Toronto-based duo, Once A Tree, take a trip to Mexico to capture a sense of freedom for their new single, What You Say. Members Hayden and Jayli Wolf self-directed the video, creating a piece as liberating as a vacation in a new place. Set against the vibrant backdrop of San Miguel de Allende, we see vocalist, Jayli Wolf, traversing the city streets with a model skeleton, symbolizing “dead weight.” Loosely following the story of someone in a dead-end relationship, the visual sees Jayli jumping in between the worlds of her imagination, culminating in her burying the burden she has been carrying in the relationship, ultimately setting herself free.

Watch What You Say here

Most of us know what it feels like to be led on, betrayed, or lied to,” says Once A Tree. “We all deserve honesty, love, and loyalty. This song is about having the courage to get rid of the toxic people or relationships in our lives.”

“We filmed in the colourful city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It was an adventure traveling with a 30-pound skeleton (we named him Tony) in our luggage. The airport customs officer’s eyes nearly fell out of her head when we sent him through the X-ray machine. Hayden and I film the majority of all our music videos ourselves, and this was one of the more difficult shoots we’ve done. Carrying Tony and all our camera gear through the tiny streets of San Miguel under the blazing sun in a full red dress suit was pretty ridiculous. We had people constantly filming us on their phones and others yelling from their balconies asking if the skeleton was real. This was definitely a project we’ll never forget.”

What You Say follows Once A Tree’s previous single, Worth, another project highlighting the group’s intentional visual storytelling. Once A Tree returned to their home province of British Columbia, filming in the southeastern region’s Lower Kootenay Band Territory with First Nations Youth from Yawa Nukiy School, honoring Jayli’s Indigenous roots and Saulteaux heritage. 

The music video follows a young girl resembling a monster. She feels neglected at home, invisible on social media and bullied at school. The end of the video reveals that the girl isn’t really a monster – it’s simply a visual representation of the inner belief system she carries and has built from exterior judgments, evolving into courage, compassion and understanding above all.