Interview & Photos by Harlen Cruz
August 19, 2022
New York, NY
Is this your first time performing here in NYC?
Yes, for my own artist project. I came here with my high school like to play in the band. This is the first time it’s really like me and my songs, its an honor, it’s a very cool thing to say on your 22nd birthday that you’re performing on a sold out show in New York City.
What was your reaction when you found out it was sold out?
I was super happy, super excited, I didn’t really want to have expectations about any of the shows selling a lot of tickets or selling out. So I was kind of not letting myself like get my hopes up. Then when it sold out, I was like well it’s my birthday, it’s almost as if they knew? I mean some people do know but it’s like, the best coincidence.
Is this your second time headlining a show/shows?
Yeah, this is even crazier because the first time headlining a show, it was in Paris which is… hello? And the second time headlining, it is in New York and it sold out. I feel like it’s so cool that I get to do that. I’m also touring with Kira Kosarin, this is my first time having an opener that is actually following me to like different places. Before I was playing all my time solo, just me and now, I’m the headline with a band and the tracks, it’s awesome.
Now that you have a band joining you during performances, how do you feel your dynamic has changed?
It’s really different when you play alone, because when you’re playing solo, you’re in control of everything so if you make a mistake or you do the wrong form of the song, you can always like catch up cause it’s just you. Now with a band, it’s so comforting in a different way because you know these people know the songs and when you play along to the tracks, it keeps you in line, it keeps you from making mistakes. I’m really glad that I get to be on stage with people.
You released both an acoustic and the normal version of “Fall in love Alone,” can you share more about your style or preference for either?
The acoustic version is very much back to my roots and like what I started on YouTube, I still do covers with me and a guitar or a piano. So I feel it’s very reflective of how I kind of started on social media. The full band version, especially playing it live is just feels big. I feel the progression from playing solo acoustic which is a whole other vibe, it’s cool, it’s jazzy to it sounds like the actual song with the band.
On social media (TikTok), you’ve invited your fans and followers to sing with you through #openversechallenges for “Don’t Text Me When You’re Drunk” as well as “Deep End,” is this something you hope to continue as way to connect through music?
I want to do it until they get tired of me, I feel like it lets people be a part of a bigger thing, I owe a lot to the first open verse challenge that I ever did. Without it, I wouldn’t even be literally sitting here right now. When we did “Fall in Love Alone,” I had such a good time watching all these people like create amazing art around my song that I was like “we’re definitely gonna do it again.” I don’t know if I’ll do it for every single song, I think it’s like “Why not?,” it’s fun, people get to be creative and then you get to hear different versions of your song after you’ve been hearing the same one for so long.
Prior to opening up the #openversechallenges, where were you in the writing/recording process of these songs?
It’s actually funny that you say that because “Fall in Love Alone” and “Deep End” were like completely finished, completely ready to be released when I put the open verse challenge out. But “Don’t Text Me When You’re Drunk,” the song was like barely finished at all. So I’m seeing all these verse challenges just come in, like the songs were written but it wasn’t like very good like the verse before I put up the challenge. And then I saw all these other submissions, in a way, they did inspire me though I never took anyone’s direct idea but seeing all these people having cool ideas made me think “wow, my verse could be much cooler” so we went and rewrote it and then of course getting Zai on the song just elevated it to another level.
How many submissions were you considering before moving forward and having Zai1k on the song?
This is a funny story because people actually thought that I put this open verse thing to pick someone to be on the song which it did end up being but at the beginning, it was just for fun. And then people were like “oh my god, Zai1k won the challenge” and then I’m thinking “it wasn’t a challenge to win,” it was to have fun sharing ideas. He even messaged me on Instagram asking if he could get on the song, I told him that the song was already written and we’re going to go into production soon but let’s definitely work on something in the future because I wasn’t really sure what was happening with the song yet and then I sat there and thought that “he needs to be on the song, the song needs him.” He brings such a cool aspect to the song, he brings hip-hop/rap to like a jazzier feel. I then messaged him back “we actually want you to jump on the song, we think it would be awesome.” He happened to be in LA, he’s from Florida and he came into the studio the next day, I was at home, I was in Montreal. We put out the song like 13 days after that so it was like a super quick process but it wasn’t supposed to be that way so it’s super cool how things turned out.
Your newest single “Deep End” comes out tomorrow, can you share more about influences/approach to the song?
Well we definitely went for like a Prince/Janelle Monáe like cool pop with percussion like the snap. I like that it’s different than my other stuff but it still has these little moments if you listen for it, these little cool jazzy interjections or note choices so it’s fun to be able to branch out especially when you’re writing for a new project but still keeping your roots in the music.