While Michelle Branch's latest single, "Breathe," shares its name with a Faith Hill smash, its theme is loosely borrowed from a tune Frankie Goes to Hollywood made famous nearly 20 years ago.
" 'Breathe' is basically one of those songs where it's just like, 'Chill out, relax,' " Branch said of the second single off Hotel Paper. "Especially, a lot of my female friends whine about a lot of stupid things that really don't matter at all in the big scheme of things."
Where the Frankie song "Relax" deals with fairly graphical sexual matters, Branch's tune simply cautions about investing too much into puppy love — a common and often unavoidable mistake most young people are prone to making.
"Especially when you're a teenager, it's always the end of the world if someone doesn't call you," she explained. "It's basically all really stupid stuff, where you look back and go, 'Why did I even care about that in that moment?' But that's kind of the fun of it."
The treatment for the "Breathe" video, which surfaced last week, was initially written for Branch's previous single, "Are You Happy Now?" Marc Klasfeld (Sum 41, Vanessa Carlton) scripted the clip, which put Branch and her band in a rehearsal room that slowly gets overcome by the sea. But the Branch camp had other ideas for "Are You Happy Now?," and went with a treatment by Meiert Avis (All-American Rejects, Audioslave) instead.
When the time came to solicit ideas for "Breathe," Klasfeld reminded Branch that his idea was just gathering dust. Luckily, the idea for the video lent itself to both songs.
"It's kind of a metaphor for what ['Breathe'] is about," Branch said. "You're in this room and everything around you is falling apart, and things can seem like they're really not working out, but in the end ... Usually 99 times out of 100 if something is bad, the only thing it can do is get better. That's the only thing that can come out in the end — something more positive."
All the positivity doesn't mean the video shoot wasn't without its setbacks.
"Overall, it was kind of a nightmare to shoot," she said. "And it was nothing in particular. I just got off a plane from Tokyo and I was acting like a crab apple. And we were getting in arguments: The styling was wrong. Stuff happens on video shoots all the time that people never hear about or see. It's 11 p.m. the night before we're shooting the video, and I don't have an outfit to wear. The stylist is running around, and I'm going through my closet saying, 'What should I wear?'
"On the day of shooting, it was funny that I was in this mood because I really felt like [the song is] perfect for what just happened," she continued. "And in the end I am really happy with the finished product."
When Branch isn't forgetting to breathe during video shoots, she continues to tour. Although Hotel Paper was released in June, her first headlining tour in support of the LP only kicked off this month (see "Michelle Branch Sets North American Tour, New Single"). This summer was spent opening for Sheryl Crow, an experience Branch said helped better her own live performance.
"Sheryl had a really great video show behind her," Branch explained. "Not her face on the screen, but other things ... different images. So I asked the guy who does that for her to do that for me. It worked out and it took the show to another level."
After the current string of confirmed dates ends October 29, Branch will head to Japan for a few weeks, then back to the States to tour through mid-December. The near future, coupled with a past that found her promoting the unexpected hit "Game of Love" off Santana's Shaman, along with her own LP, hasn't left much time to work on her next album. And rather than worry about it, Branch often needs to remind herself to just "Breathe."
"I haven't written a thing for it, which is kind of frightening," she said. "I'll start things and won't finish them. I don't want to force it. When it's time to write, I'll write."