Over the last few years, Nicole Ariana has been quietly building her reputation as a talented singer and songwriter. Her 2022 debut album, Crybaby, brought her multiple East Coast Music Award nominations, winning Music Video of the Year for her music video “Master of Denial,” as well as SOCAN Songwriter of the Year and Electronic Artist of the Year.
Nicole is back again with a new video for her single, “Shameless.” Capturing a bittersweet romance, “Shameless” is a heartbreaking song, and the visuals make the experience even more tender. “Shameless” is “an ode to a love gone wrong, painting a picture of holding on to something far too long.”
Realized through director Griffin O’Toole and cinematographer Andrew Rhodenizer, starring Cory Urquhart and Ariana herself, the idea behind the video was to “bring the vibe and story behind the song to life.” The whole video intentionally depicts a relationship’s good and sorrowful moments in a longingly nostalgic way. “We thought it would be cool to use an old handycam to record memories of myself and my ex, back when things were good, and also captured some beautiful shots with cinematographer Andrew Rhodenizer portraying happy times in the relationship,” Ariana explains. “The remainder of the clips were shot in the house, which was meant to be our old space where we lived together. The furniture is stacked up and partially packed, covered in plastic sheets while I sing the song, looking back on the relationship and where it went wrong.”
And that’s where the video hits most. Looking back, retracing steps and replaying memories—all patterns anyone who has found themselves in and out of love has experienced firsthand. The loop plays on as endlessly as the video, but often, it isn’t simply a person you find yourself returning to; sometimes, it’s the idea of love itself.
“For me, I think the most addictive aspect of love is found in its beginnings,” Ariana explains. “I am a bit of a daydreamer and idealist, so I’ve found myself getting caught up in the idea of love with someone before truly knowing if it was a proper match or had a realistic future. Being a creative, I’m quite sensitive and tend to overthink, so I have definitely jumped the gun with love in the past,” she says. “I love hard and see the good in everyone—even when I know they’re bad for me, I keep trying in hopes they can grow and change.”
While growth might not always come from the people you want or in a timeframe you most desire, learning about your own habits in love and finding understanding can lead to a window of opportunity for growth within yourself. For Ariana, working on her album provided just that. “I feel like in writing the songs on Crybaby, I grew as a person and know a lot more about myself and love. I’m much more self-aware now, and I’m glad I have this album to look back and reflect on so I don’t make the same mistakes in love in the future.
“I’m a huge empath and feel things deeply. I think I’ve always been this way, and it hasn’t been the easiest. There were many years of my life that I lived in a victim mentality, and likely many of these songs came from that space. It was easy to accept the melancholic energy that comes through in Crybaby because it’s where I was at the time. It’s much easier to write songs when you’re sad than happy, at least for me.”
When faced with a breakup, a question often left to wrestle with is, “what do you do with a memory once you let go of the person that also occupied that space?” In the music video, there is an emphasis on focusing not just on the two individuals as lovers but also on the moments that surround them. The reality is that memories remain in place even as the two people part ways. The relationships Ariana builds all seem to influence her work in different ways.
Outside of romance, collaboration has similarly shaped the context and content of Crybaby. “Working with other people in the industry has definitely helped me grow in so many ways. Songwriting is such a vulnerable and bonding experience. It was really important to feel relaxed and open when creating the songs on Crybaby, so naturally, a lot of the album was written with close friends who I’ve grown alongside in the industry over the past several years.” She adds, “Some of the songs were also written overseas in the UK and Germany, and the people I wrote those songs with became close friends quickly. I think just being able to open up and speak my truth and experience in my songs with these wonderful people has allowed me to grow and just feel more comfortable being myself and finding my voice as an artist and songwriter.”
Ariana knows she can be confident in the compelling language of her work, and this video is further proof. As for her future endeavours writing about heartbreak? “Shameless” shows that there’s also nothing shameful about that.