By Isabella Schneider
Ever since he was a child, ASU student Chance Hanefeld, 20, used music as an outlet for his emotions. After heartbreak took a toll on his mental state in 2017, Hanfeld was able to use this therapeutic channel and embark on a three-year process of writing his first song, “Broken Heart,” which debuted earlier this month.
While he had years of experience with turning his feelings into music, the road to producing his first music video still wasn’t easy. He faced roadblocks of failed studio sessions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and shooting in difficult terrain.
Still, Hanefeld persisted to make his dream come true. With friends who acted as a vocal engineer, videographer, director, and photographer, as well as the emotional support of his roommates, he said he was able to get his voice heard, share his “power anthem,” and express his mission of self-love for all.
In addition to writing the song, Hanefeld also choreographed his music video, which was shot in the Imperial Sand Dunes in Arizona. “Broken Heart” is a pop song with EDM influences, and Hanefeld said he attempted to draw his inspiration for the choreography from EDM dancers on YouTube.
“When it actually came down to the choreography, it was just what I felt within the beats,” Hanefeld said. “I didn’t follow any choreography that I had saved videos for, it was just all what I felt and the movement that felt most natural to me.”
Hanefeld’s roommate, Sammy Leonard, said she was in awe at the hard work Hanefeld put in before she went to watch him film.
“I saw him practicing in his room for countless hours, sometimes until 3:00 a.m. just to nail the choreography and he had a clear picture of the vision he wanted,” Leonard said. “I saw his progress every day and he put so much time and effort in just to make sure everything was perfect.”
While the heat of the sand dunes prevented Hanefeld from executing some of the choreography, Leonard said she could tell he pushed through the pain because of his joy in fulfilling his dream. Likewise, Hanefeld said the challenge of shooting in the sand dunes was worthwhile because he was able to create a space that emulated how he felt before writing his song.
“When someone is going through depression, anxiety, or just dealing with a situation that might be challenging, they enter into a space where they feel alone,” Hanefeld said.
He said the barren dunes represent the same feeling of isolation, where someone doesn’t have the tools they need to learn how to navigate their situation.
Before the song starts in the music video, Hanefeld voices a preamble. He said he didn’t want to get straight into the song because he wanted to set the story up.
“It allows the audience to really enter into the kind of mind-frame that this is where I’m at, this is more than a story of someone crying from a broken heart,” Hanefeld said. “This is a real story, it’s a visual, it’s entering into a moment of music. It’s escaping from some outside noise and really entering into the visual of a broken heart.”
Hanefeld uploaded the video to YouTube under the stage name Naro, which is both his Cambodian birth name and the name of a Cambodian pop star. He said the stage name allows him to recognize his Cambodian origins by using the name of someone who produced similar music.
“I wanted to pay homage to my roots,” Hanefeld said. “In the event that something does come out of this music atmosphere, I think Naro is very symbolic in the sense that instead of saying Chance Hanefeld, it’s a performer’s name. It’s something short, and it’s something bold.”
Hanefeld is in the teacher’s college at ASU and said he also chose a stage name to protect his privacy when he has future students. He said that while he’s studying to become a teacher, he’s going to continue sharing his passion and expressing himself through music.
“Music for me is just a passion, and how I view music is a way to heal, a way to inspire, and a way to connect with people,” Hanefeld said. “ If I can get signed to a bigger platform or reach a bigger audience, then it’s something I’m going to pursue fully, but for now I just want to create for the sake of creating.”