We first found your music with “The Lost Boy” a few years ago, which was right before “Boys in the Street” took off. What do you anticipate will be the big single on the new album?
Well, I’m still figuring out what the new album looks like, or whether it will be an album or an EP. However, my next single “The Power Shift” is coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’m pretty excited to let that loose into the world.
What stylistic changes did you make for your sound with the new album? Does it still have the Greg Holden singer/songwriter core to it, or are you doing something new?
Well, 95% of the new stuff I’m putting out was recorded by me, in my home studio in Los Angeles. So sonically it’s been both an exploration, and a learning experience. I tried to avoid the typical “singer/songwriter” vibes this time around, for my own mental state. I think ultimately the new stuff sounds like me, because it’s my voice, but I’ve been handed the keys to a car I barely know how to drive, which has been both liberating and a total fucking nightmare.
The first single for the new album that we heard had a bit of an 80s vibe to it. Is that something that we’ll hear throughout the album, or just a few tracks? What inspired that sound for you?
Yeah, I’d say so. I didn’t mean for it to come out so 80’s sounding. Butch Walker and I just sort of got a vibe going and didn’t stop. As for the rest of the stuff, I’m kind of loving the guitar/synth combo right now. They’re so expressive and emotional together. So, I’ve been really digging into that without trying to overthink it. Hopefully it doesn’t turn people off.
What are some of your musical influences right now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of The Killers, The War On Drugs, Post Malone and MGMT lately. I’m really enjoying the simplicity of it all. It’s so easy to pile shit on shit on shit and then attempt to carve something out of it, but there’s something about letting go, and just doing what feels good. Doing more with less is key.
What other art and cultural influences help to shape this album?
Well, I’ve often written about other people, about books I’ve read, or documentaries I’ve seen, the two songs you mentioned at the start of this interview being perfect examples. Maybe to avoid looking at myself, or not wanting to talk about it or something. Either way, most of the new material has involved me turning the camera onto myself and focusing on the blurry mess. A lot of self-discovery, looking inward, being horrified at what I’ve found or not found, and the feelings that have surfaced in doing that. I guess I’m back to being a self-centered singer/songwriter!
This might be too big a question for an email interview, but how do you see the “digital world” shaping your music career? For example, how are streaming platforms helping and hurting your work as a creative?
I think ultimately, as an artist and a listener, the “digital world” is incredible. As an artist, you can make music in your bedroom, and then for very little money, without any middle men, labels or unnecessary bureaucracy, put it out into the world for — in theory — everyone to hear. For the listener, something like $10-15 a month will grant you access to nearly all the recorded music in history. I would’ve murdered someone for that when I was a kid. You couldn’t get ONE album for $10 a decade ago.
I think the more realistic answer though, is now that 2394829348729346235892735 records are released each week, it’s basically impossible to be break through the noise without investing thousands and thousands of dollars on marketing and promo, or being connected with the major Spotify playlist curators. And guess who has both of those things? The Majors. So, from the outside, it looks like the artists have regained the power and control of their careers, which in many ways they have, but on the inside the story is a little less romantic and certainly a lot less lucrative.
When push comes to shove though, digital music and streaming is a good thing. It’s accessible, user friendly, cheap, and most importantly, it’s popular. I wouldn’t say it’s shaping my music career as much as it’s encouraging me to evolve.
Your music tends to tackle some fascinating questions about social (in)justice and personal motivation. How do you maintain a positive mental attitude in the midst of facing these types of issues?
By giving all my money to a therapist.
What would you like our readers to know about your music and/or your new album?
That it was carved from my very own blood, sweat and tears. That I made it for my fans, and not for the music industry. And that even though it might not sonically be my best work, it’s certainly my most honest.
Thanks for your time guys.