Blue Lights actor stars in music video dedicated to musician’s late wife

Singer-songwriter Stephen Conley talks to Sophie Clarke about the healing power of music and how Blue Lights actor Martin McCann ended up starring in his latest music video

Blue Lights actor Martin McCann stars in new music video
Blue Lights actor Martin McCann stars in new music video

“MUSIC itself is such a healing thing,” explains Belfast musician Stephen Conley, who recently released his debut EP in memory of his wife Sharon.

She died of cancer in November 2022, a tragedy which Stephen says meant he “didn’t pick up the guitar for months”. “It was the last thing on my mind,” he explains.

“Then last summer hit and I just started to write down how I was feeling and play about with different structures and melodies and it all just started flowing out really naturally.

“So, I made the decision to try and make something out the stuff I was writing, and it’s escalated from there.”

The self-titled EP consists of four tracks all inspired by and dedicated to Sharon.

“I’ve been playing and writing music since I was 15,” says Stephen.

“Anyone who knows me knows music is a part of me, but Sharon probably knew that better than anyone.”

Before Sharon passed away Stephen penned his first single, The One, which was inspired by the strength she showed whilst undergoing her cancer treatment.

“When I recorded The One, she loved it and always encouraged me do more with my music – she would’ve encouraged anybody to got out and do whatever they wanted to do that’s just who she was.”

In addition to the EP Stephen also released a music video to accompany the third track on the record, Have a Shot On Me Babe, which stars Blue Lights actor Martin McCann.

"At the end of the video he ends up sending an old text message to somebody and it’s really open ended in terms of the meaning," says Stephen
Memories from the past are Martin McCann's character's companion in the video for Stephen Conley's song Have a Shot On Me Babe

“Sharon was actually where the connection with Martin came from,” he explains.

“Both him and Sharon are from Divis and when they were teenagers, they grew up with each other.

“When he heard that Sharon had passed, he reached out and we’ve stayed in touch a bit and he said if I ever needed anything, to let him know.”

Stephen recalls watching Blue Lights and thinking Martin, who plays Stevie Neil in the police drama, would be perfect for the video and after messaging him on Instagram the actor agreed.

“He waited until Blue Lights had finished filming around Christmas time and then we filmed the music video around the end of February, and it only took a couple of hours.”

The music video was directed by theatre director and writer Nuala Donnelly who also happens to be the fiancée of one of Stephen’s closest friends.

“Nuala came up with this story line for Martin to follow and we shot it her house,” Stephen describes.

“Basically, we as the viewers don’t know who has passed on or who Martin’s character is missing but there are boxes sitting round the house.

“You can feel that his emotions are running high, he doesn’t want to be there, but he looks in these boxes and finds a note along with a cassette tape and video player.

“And he sets it all up and watches back all these different memories from his past.”

Blue Lights actor Martin McCann in Have a Shot on Me Babe music video
Blue Lights actor Martin McCann in the Have a Shot on Me Babe music video

Stephen hopes the ambiguity within the music video will help it to resonate with a wider audience.

“At the end of the video he ends up sending an old text message to somebody and it’s really open ended in terms of the meaning.

“For me personally, it represents the idea of how grief can sometimes mend those difficulties in relationships.”

Since its release the video has racked up hundreds of views although Stephen fears he may have peaked in relation to casting.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next now that Martin McCann has been in my music video,” he confesses.

“I might have to go and wake Liam Neeson up out of bed,” he laughs.

However, Martin wasn’t the only one to lend his talent to the video.

“My stepdaughter Grace is singing harmonies on all the tracks as well,” adds Stephen.

“At the end of the video I sing ‘Have a shot on me’ and she responds with ‘Have a shot on me’, but it’s in Irish which I thought was a nice wee nod to the Irish language as well.

“After Sharon passed Grace moved in with her dad but she’s starting to get really into music now, so it’s been great having her be part of the recording process – she’s got a great voice.”

Stephen Conley's self titled EP is out now
Stephen Conley's self-titled EP is out now

Stephen hopes to eventually make music his main source of income but won’t put off writing and recording – especially because he lives in such close proximity to his number one fan.

“My son knows every word,” he says proudly.

“He’s only five and he knows them all off by heart, he’s in P1 now and he’s doing great.”

Stephen believes that music has been instrumental in helping him understand and explore his emotions in the wake of Sharon’s death.

“I have a second EP out in September. Working on my music has really helped me to stay busy and stay creative.

“When Sharon passed lifting a guitar or playing a chord didn’t cross my mind, but I think after some time had passed it’s almost like the grief became a source of inspiration.

“Once you write down how you’re feeling it sort of becomes real and I suppose that’s a way of dealing with it.”

Stephen Conley’s self-titled EP is out now to buy or stream and you can find out more on his Instagram page @stephenconleymusic