Originally published in The Cherwell
US Country singer-songwriter Chase Rice has gone Platinum multiple times, co-written a Diamond-certified hit, and last year reached No. 1 with his single ‘Eyes On You’. Off the back of his latest project, The Album Pt. 1, he tells Maxim Mower why he feels like he’s just getting started…
Hi Chase! Thanks so much for taking the time out to chat today. So, I think it’s fair to say you haven’t gone down the traditional route to becoming a chart-topping Country artist. You’ve been a football linebacker, a NASCAR pit crew member, and a reality TV star. Did you always know in your heart you wanted to be a Country singer-songwriter, or was it a passion you discovered over time?
No, not at all - it was definitely discovered. I was 21 when I learnt to play the guitar. I remember my college roommate saying I should be a Country singer, and it felt like he’d just told me to be an astronaut! That’s how far from reality it felt. I wrote my first song in 2008 after my dad died, and I really enjoyed the process of it. It still wasn’t a focus, I just enjoyed doing it. Then in 2012, I’m one of the writers on Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Cruise', and it was then that I realised it's something I’m pretty good at, and something I could make money doing. It’s evolved a lot, and I’ve become a much better writer, producer and singer. It feels like The Album Pt. 1 is the beginning of my career, which sounds crazy because I’ve been doing this for ten years!
You mentioned your co-write on the smash hit ‘Cruise’ - a historic 24-week No. 1, and one of the best selling Country songs of the 2010s - and this came very early on in your career. Did this instant success spur you on in your songwriting, or did it add a whole lot of pressure to try and recreate the success of ‘Cruise’?
It was definitely before my time of really earning it. I was coming off ‘Cruise’ into ‘Ready Set Roll’ [Chase’s 2014 hit single], and I was thrown into a fire that I didn’t know how to handle. I didn’t enjoy it, and I didn’t appreciate it for what it was. I remember talking to Garth Brooks, and I said out loud, 'Music is the easiest thing I’ve ever done', and it was, it was so easy. But then everyone at my label got fired, I left the label, got re-signed, and that brought me back down to reality. It’s made me work my ass off so much harder, but the product is so much better because of it.
Talking of Country legend Garth Brooks, you recently opened up for him in front of over 70,000 fans in Detroit, and I read that the first concert you ever went to as a child was a Garth Brooks concert. What do you think baby Chase Rice would have said at that concert, if you’d told him he’d one day be up on that stage opening for Garth?
Nah, he wouldn’t have believed it! And that’s why I think this time around the success that’s happened, this success compared to the ‘Ready Set Roll’ days, it’s so much more fun because I can sit back and enjoy it. But now this time it’s deserved, we’ve earned it. We’re at a place now where we belong. Whether it’s our crowd or not, we’re going to make sure to bust our ass to make sure it is our crowd next time around. I never expected it as a kid, but it’s cool to be in a place where Garth is not just a mentor, and obviously a huge inspiration for me, because now this is a guy that I actually work with and make music with. To work with a guy like him, that’s earned, and I’m appreciative of this opportunity.
In your latest music video for ‘Lonely If You Are’, you and your band get replaced by childhood ‘mini-me’ versions. You’re at the top of the Country game right now, and there’s going to be a lot of people looking up to you. As a role model, what’s the main message you want to get across through your music to young Country fans across the world?
For every song I put out, that it's me, and I’m not trying to be anyone else or another artist. That’s the best place to be at, when you finally realise ‘this is what I do best’, and you just try and own it. Another artist does what they do way better than I ever would, but nobody else can be me, and I’m just owning what I’m putting out and enjoying where I am with the music. That’s what I’d say to anyone getting into this - figure out the music you want to make, and be the best you can be.
What made you want to release The Album in parts, and how many parts can we expect?
That’s a good question. To me it’s the way people consume music these days - some people buy it, some stream it, some only listen to singles and not albums. I feel like giving less music more often gives the songs more of an opportunity to have the life they deserve. If you drop fifteen at one time, you just choose three or four to listen to and never hear the rest. But with only seven at once, you have the opportunity to listen to all of them. I’m not just releasing a single or two with five fillers, either - I wanted every song to be worthy of a single. That’s a big focus for me for The Album Pt. 2, and we’ve all just been talking about it right now. It’ll probably drop around April or May, and it’ll probably be less than seven songs. But it’ll be the same in that I want every one to be good enough to be a single. And to answer your second question, I don’t know when it’ll stop. There could be three, four, maybe even seven parts!
You’ve said that you feel The Album Pt. 1 is your best body of work to date. What makes this album particularly special for you?
I just think the singing, the production, and the writing is much better. Music is my life right now, and it wasn’t always a priority. At first, I enjoyed the partying aspect of it to be honest, and now that’s not my focus at all - my focus is on the music. I’m focussing hard on making the best music I’ve ever made, and I think that really shows on The Album Pt. 1. I think ‘Eyes On You’ kicked it off, and that could’ve easily been on Pt. 1. Also songs like ‘Forever To Go’ and ‘Messy’, they really encapsulate who I am as an artist.
There are a lot of different genres and styles infused into the mix on this project. ‘Everywhere’, for example, wouldn’t sound out of place on an Imagine Dragons record. When making an album, is it always a goal of yours to try and surprise people and explore different sounds?
I definitely want to explore different sounds, but I don’t really try to make it a point to surprise people, as that would make it different for me. Every song needs to have its own identity. For example, ‘Saved Me’ and ‘Lions’ [from 2017 album Lambs & Lions] are two completely different songs, but they’re still me. ‘Messy’ and ‘Everywhere’ are completely different, but again they’re still me. I love exploring these different sounds, and they don’t need to all sound the same.
I read somewhere that the entire album is about one person. Do you ever get nervous when you’re about to release quite personal songs about an ex, about how they’re going to take it?
Yeah, that’s the tough part. I do this for a living, but she doesn’t have a way to defend herself, and I’m mindful of that. I’m not going to say too much that she wouldn’t want people to know. She’s heard it, and I’ve talked to her since, and she’s good with everything. You want to be real, but not throw her under the bus.
You recently toured around the UK, and you take a keen interest in UK culture, more-so than most other US Country artists. You’re a big Manchester City fan, for example, and your song 25 Wexford Street is all about Dublin. What is it that draws you to the UK?
I think it’s just how you guys have taken me in with open arms. The first time I played there, we pretty much sold out every show, and it was just me and a guitar. We decided to go there before Country2Country [Europe’s biggest Country music festival] had started up, to build our own foundations, before I brought the band over. We built from the ground up, and you guys have treated me so well from the beginning. It’s like I’m coming home every time I go over there, I could even see myself coming over there and writing. I just love the people, and that’s why I put out 25 Wexford Street, and did a UK version of ‘On Tonight’ [from Lambs & Lions], because that’s how the crowd in London sang it. You guys have been amazing to me.
You’re known for your anthems, and these translate especially well to live performances. How big a part do the live shows play in your mind when you’re creating an album?
Yeah it’s huge, because our live shows have been the day one thing for us, before we ever had anything mainstream. Whether it was media, articles, radio play - before we had anything, we had a live show. I want the songs to help us keep the energy of the live show. But that doesn’t always mean high energy, for example ‘Forever To Go’ is just me and a guitar. I always want to pay respect to our live shows, and right now I do feel like we’re missing something from the setlist, so I’m going to make sure there’s a real high energy song on Pt. 2.
Which other artists are inspiring you right now?
That’s a great question! It’s funny you mentioned Imagine Dragons earlier, because I listened to them this morning. I respect the hell out of Eric Church for being who he is, I’ve always respected and loved his music. I listen to a lot of Garth Brooks, and hearing some live recordings of his stuff is definitely inspiring. I just did an acoustic thing with Kyle Cook from Matchbox Twenty, he’s created a sound that hasn’t been done before, and they’ve paved their own path. I’m all over the map, I love so many different artists.
I saw on Instagram you hit up Ed Sheeran asking for a potential collab. Has he come through yet, and could this be something to look forward to on The Album Pt. 2…?
I think it would be too soon for Pt. 2 to be honest, but I hope it’ll happen soon! I got to hang with him at the O2 - he’s obviously on top of the world, and I’d love to write a song with him and sing it together. I would definitely say it’s a possibility for the future.
Music is such a special medium through which artists can really help listeners when they’re going through something. If you could pick just one song that you’d want listeners to pay especially close attention to, the lyrics of which you feel can help people the most, which song would it be?
There’s a lot. ‘Eyes On You’ is probably my favourite to play loud because of the crowds. But if I could only sing one more song, it would be ‘Jack Daniel’s and Jesus’ [from 2014 album Ignite the Night]. That for me is a real song, it has a great story and lesson behind it. It’s probably one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written.
Are you planning on returning to play in the UK anytime soon?
100% - that’s a given. We’ll be coming back bigger and better with our live show, and I want to work our way into arenas. And we’ll hopefully be bringing Pt. 2 and maybe even Pt. 3 over with us!
Chase Rice’s latest project, The Album Pt. 1, is out now on all streaming services. Check out his music video for ‘Lonely If You Are’ here.
Originally published at phasermagazine.com
HARDY started out as a songwriter for some of the biggest names in Country music, before stepping into his own spotlight with his recent Hixtape Vol. 1 project. Having scored four number one hits as a writer, and with his debut single ‘REDNECKER’ tallying over 113 million streams to date, he is one of Country’s hottest prospects. Maxim Mower sat down to talk to him about the songwriting process, small town life, and his upcoming tour.
Thank you for taking the time out to talk today! Firstly, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the concept behind your star-studded Hixtape Vol. 1. You have 17 features on the 10-track record, and having lots of guest spots is generally something more associated with Hip Hop/Rap music, as is the Mixtape form as a whole. What was the thinking behind this?
You kinda nailed it. I’m a fan of Hip Hop and I like the way they do that, it’s seems more carefree. I don’t know, man, it’s just a combo of that and me wanting to do something that no-one has done in a long time in Country music. I have a lot of friends that I’ve wanted to do a project with, and it’s generally just me and my buddies on there. I was sitting on a pile of songs, and I didn’t know who was gonna sing them. For the most part people on it are people I’ve written with and worked with in the past, and it just came together like a dream. I really wanted to do something different, so we just kinda went for it!
There’s been an increase in genre-blurring over the past decade, particularly involving Country music, with FGL doing the pop crossover ‘Meant To Be’ with Bebe Rexha, Zac Brown Band doing ‘Broken Arrows’ with Avicii, and of course, ‘Old Town Road’. There are tinges of Rock, Hip Hop, and R&B in your music. Do you think this genre-blurring is something that we will see more of in the 2020s, and will we even have genres by 2030?
Yeah I definitely do think we’ll see more of that, and that’s interesting to say we won’t really have genres, because I think Country is such a huge, wide format. It is very interesting that a Country song today could have been a Pop hit five years ago. The idea of a ‘genre’ in general is so subjective, which I think is totally fun and totally cool. I can’t predict the future but I definitely think more collaborations will come, and I look forward to it! As a songwriter, I see a lot of LA writers coming over to write with Nashville writers, because we have a gift with lyrics that you don’t really hear in different genres.
You can tell a project is special when the first time you listen to it, you think ‘This song is definitely my favourite’, and then the next time you hear it you think ‘No, actually this song is my favourite’, and each time you hear it you fall in love with another one of the tracks. Do you have a personal favourite off the Hixtape?
I like ‘Boy from the South’, ‘My Kinda Livin’’, ‘Turn You Down’, I like 'He Went to Jared’…I don’t know, its hard man! It’s hard to pick. Right now my favourite to perform is ‘Boy from the South’, we open the show on tour with that one.
‘One Beer’ is interesting because it goes from this scary, daunting thing happening in an unplanned pregnancy, but ends up on a note of gratitude and happiness that life turned out the way it did. Is the story based on a real life event?
No, it wasn’t based on a real life event. I just had this idea and I’ve had the title ‘One Beer’ for a really long time, and I just thought it would be cool to write a song about how one beer can literally end up changing someone’s life. I woke up one day with that melody in my head and the whole first line of the chorus. I sat down with my collaborators and I said, 'I have to get this out right now’. I feel like ‘One Beer’ sounds like such a generic Country title, but it was nice to give it a deeper meaning.
On songs like ‘Nothin’ Out Here’, you sing about how outsiders will see a small town and think it’s so quiet and there’s so few people, that it must be boring to live there - and being from the countryside myself I’m quite familiar with that assumption! With the tone of ‘Nothin’ Out Here’, and I think this is shared across many Country songs, do you ever feel like you often find yourself having to defend the country lifestyle and the beauty of small town life?
Yeah, I think so. In this fast paced world, that’s something that’s overlooked and shamed for maybe being behind the times and ignorant. For some reason I just feel like country people and that way of life doesn’t really fit the format of the rest of the world, and it’s definitely not praised in today’s society, and I think that it should be. If you live that life you should be very proud of it, and I say that in the song you mentioned - we’re making something out of nothing out here. These people don’t really have anything, but they develop an entire life out of very little.
Your discography has a great mix of laid-back anthems and deeper cuts, such as ‘One Beer’ and ‘Signed, Sober You’. Do you prefer writing the more light-hearted songs, such as ‘Redneck Tendencies’, or are the deeper ones more satisfying to create?
It’s tough man, I like them both. I love writing a big old light-hearted song that just feels good, but the songwriter in me loves to write a sad-ass song that makes you really feel something. I think there’s a skill level required, because it’s kinda hard to write both. With a light-hearted song, it’s hard to say nothing but still make somebody feel something, and on the other hand, it’s hard to write a song that’ll make someone cry.
I’d be really interested to learn more about the creative process behind writing for other artists, having written for Country heavyweights such as Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton and Morgan Wallen. Do you sit down and start writing a song with a particular artist in mind, or do you just write something you like and then see who takes it?
I’ve never liked to try to write for a specific artist, unless I’m in the room with that artist, just because it puts me in a creative box. You could have a great line and think, ‘well, that person would never sing that’. I just wanna write the best song. Me and Morgan [Wallen], we just write and we both wanna make the best song. If I’m in the room with Blake Shelton or Luke Bryan, I’m gonna try to stick to their language.
Of course, songwriting usually entails a collaborative effort from a handful of artists. What aspect is your speciality, is it the lyrics, the melody, the composition, or does everyone involved tend to work on each aspect of the song?
Usually in Nashville these days you have a producer-writer in the room handling the composition, and they come in either with some stuff already prepared, or they quickly catch on to someone playing around on a guitar, and then work on that. In Nashville, the lyrics and melody come at the same time. I’d say ‘what if the line went like this’, and I’d sing it. Very few people these days do just one or the other. But producer-writers do streamline the process of songs getting recorded, and by the end of the studio session, you end up having a song that sounds like it will on the radio. I’m all for it!
You’ve penned a number of smash hit songs, such as FGL’s ‘Simple’, Wallen’s ‘Up Down', and more recently Blake’s ‘God’s Country’, to name just a few. What’s your favourite song that you’ve written for someone else?
I think probably ‘Up Down' would be my favourite. I love ‘God’s Country’, and to be honest man and it’s probably gonna make me more money than any other song in my career, and I’m grateful for that. But ‘Up Down’ was a big Country hit, it was my first number one, my first real single, and Morgan is one of my best friends in the whole world. So I think because of the story behind it, and the sentimental value, that one’s always gonna be one of my favourites.
You’re about to embark on another massive tour with Thomas Rhett, who’s featured on Hixtape. Are you planning on coming out to the UK to perform anytime soon? We’d sure love to see you out here!
I don’t know if I’m gonna be there with Thomas Rhett, but I’m hearing rumours that I’ll be coming out there. I haven’t confirmed anything yet, but there are rumblings that it might be happening soon!
Finally, often artists will be going through something, and they pen lyrics that can really help the listeners who are going through that same struggle, but perhaps shed new light on it or shift the perspective in a really helpful way. I actually featured on my blog one of the songs you wrote for FGL, ‘People Are Different’, which I love because it’s all about unity and not judging people. Which of the lyrics in either this song, or any of the songs that you’ve written, would you say you would want listeners to pay especially close attention to, that you feel can help people the most?
Man, 'People Are Different’ is a good one dude. That’s a song that I wish the world had gotten to hear, and I wish it had been introduced to the world as a single. ‘Signed, Sober You’, man, I’ve had a lot of people send me messages on social media and say that that song has helped them get through a break-up. That song gives hope to people, and I would want everybody to hear it because I know for a fact that it helps people. That’s the main reason I do this, to give people hope. Even 'One Beer' too, it’s something that you think is a big mistake, but it turns out to be a wonderful blessing.
Stream HARDY’s Hixtape Vol. 1, featuring the likes of Thomas Rhett, Keith Urban, Morgan Wallen and Dustin Lynch, on all platforms.
Say what you want about Drake - that he’s too commercial, that he sings too much, that he’s a terrible dancer (Hotline Bling, anyone?). These might well be true. But one thing that can’t be taken away from Drake is his unmatchable ability to coin a soundbite. He’s the figurehead for the Instagram generation, with his lyrics providing influencers with a reel of perfect and pithy captions for their next post.
Some of the Toronto hitmaker’s slogans stop you in your tracks and make you think, while others fire you up and have you puffing out your chest. But we’re not focussing on either of these. We’re looking at the hilarious, and sometimes downright bonkers, quotes that Drake manages to slip into an otherwise hard-hitting rap song.
Most rappers would be ridiculed for not taking their verses seriously enough, but with Drake the comedy and self-deprecation are all part of his persona. There’s a reason he’s one of the most meme-able and quotable artists out there. But does he care? If anything, he loves it, and he clearly plays on this. He even got Shiggy, the dancer that made his ‘In My Feelings’ track go viral, to star in the official music video.
Whatever the motives behind Drake’s willingness to send himself up, we’re the ones that get to benefit from the abundance of hilarious quotes he provides us with. Having scoured every nook and cranny of Drake’s discography, here’s a curated selection of the best ten lyrics that are bound to make you smile, chuckle or maybe even laugh out loud...
“I touched down in ’86, knew I was the man by the age of six” - All Me
The way Drake keeps breaking record after record, maybe it always has been written in the stars for him to hit these kind of heights. But since he was six? Heck, at that age I was still figuring out how to run without falling flat on my face, let alone mapping out my life plan.
What’s great about Drake, is that he flexes with a twinkle in his eye. It never feels overly serious, and there’s always a sense that he’s rapping tongue-in-cheek (although practically, as a technique, that’s bound to cause problems…).
This track was on Drake’s 2013 album, ‘Nothing Was the Same’, and features 2 Chainz and Big Sean. Fun fact: Big Sean is actually of average height.
“My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions” - Survival
What make this so funny in my opinion, is that you can literally imagine Drake posing for the Rushmore architectural photoshoot, and doing a different face for each shot. Serious, pensive, smiling, shocked. It’s just so Drake.
Once again, self-confidence, braggadocio, and a heavy dose of ego - but delivered with a charming smile.
‘Survival’ opens Drake’s 2018 ‘Scorpion’ album, and is full of ominous warnings to all his competitors, such as “I ain’t even have to cut the tie, it severed itself”. This gravity makes the light-hearted Mount Rushmore comment stand out even more, and epitomises the two sides of Drake’s persona.
"Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake? You know I love to go there” - Child’s Play
It’s nice to see Drake is a man with his priorities in order. Yes, his relationship is crumbling. Yes, he’s fighting with his girl. But what’s he most worried about? Ruining his chances of being able to go back to his favourite restaurant.
He delivers this line with the indignant petulance of a baby who’s just had his beloved sweet ripped from his hand. But lesson learnt - don’t come between a hungry Drake and his Cheesecake. Hey, that rhymes, maybe I should be the rapper here…
‘Child’s Play’ has one of Drake’s most famous music videos, and that’s no mean feat considering how viral the visuals for ‘Hotline Bling’ and ‘In My Feelings’ went. ‘Child’s Play’ begins with Drake having an argument with Tyra Banks, who plays his girlfriend, in the Cheesecake Factory that the song famously references.
Why did the video become so well-known? Because it involves Tyra throwing a whole cake into Drake’s face. As they were beefing at the time, you can almost hear fellow rapper Meek Mill laughing with glee in the background…
“Only begging that I do is begging your pardon” - Is There More?
It’s cheeky wordplay enshrouding an equally cheeky flex, but I love it. This is definitely one for any of you looking for your next Instagram caption.
Again, I don’t know if it’s just because he used to be an actor, or if it’s because of how expressive he is in his music videos, but I can picture Drake’s face when he says this. Offended, but also kind of loving the chance to use one of his snappiest witticisms.
‘Is There More?’ is another track from ‘Scorpion’, and like ‘Survival’ is full of dark musings and intense introspection. You could be forgiven, on the basis of this song, for thinking that Drake has started to take himself too seriously. But fear not, the most memed song of 2018, ‘In My Feelings’, follows swiftly on the ‘Scorpion’ tracklist to reassure you that all is still fun and light-hearted in the Drake camp.
“Hey y’all get some more drinks goin’ on, I’ll sound a whole lot better” - Passionfruit
In my view, Drake is at his best when he is self-deprecating. It is the antithesis of everything that rap stands for, and that’s why it works so well. He perfects this in Chris Brown’s recent video for ‘No Guidance’, where the two recreate their infamous club fight in the form of a dance battle.
Chris Brown dazzles with his dancing, before Drake comes out with an embarrassing array of moves, and his entourage ditches him. But it’s great that he’s willing to send himself up, and not take himself too seriously - the music industry could do with a bit more of that.
‘Passionfruit’ was one of the best performing singles from Drake’s 2017 ‘More Life’ project, and covers familiar territory for the rapper in that it’s about struggling to find trust in a relationship, especially a long-distance one. Despite this, the tropical beat gives the song an uplifting atmosphere, underlining Drake’s ability to turn a sad song into a smash hit.
“Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum” - Pop Style
Pop Culture reference? Check. Play on words? Check. Humour aplenty? Triple check.
I’d love to know if anyone actually calls Drake ‘Chaining Tatum’. And if they didn’t before, I really hope they do after this lyric. On another note, anyone wondering if a collaboration with the real Channing Tatum’s partner, Jessie J, would ever be on the cards for Drake?
Mmm, probably not. I’d imagine Drake’s too concerned with his designer Price Tags for her liking…
‘Pop Style’ stirred up a lot of controversy, because it initially featured Hip Hop royalty, The Throne, aka Kanye West and JAY-Z. However, when the album ‘Views’ dropped in 2016, ‘Pop Style’ was on it, but Kanye and Jay’s verses had been axed. Drake played it off as a simple artistic choice by him, with no bad blood involved. But considering him and Kanye have now gone from friendly Calabasas neighbours to mortal enemies, one can’t help but think there was more to it than meets the eye…
“Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” - Back to Back
‘Back to Back’ was the famous Meek Mill diss that Drake dropped amidst the fiery feud they sparked in 2015. Meek claimed that Drake didn’t write his own lyrics, and Drake responded with ‘Charged Up’, followed swiftly by ‘Back to Back’, in a rapid one-two sucker punch. To be honest, no-one really remembers the disses Meek released.
This lyric is a reference to Meek going on tour with his then-fiancée Nicki Minaj, but only as her support act. She was obviously a lot more famous than him at the time, which is why Drake is taking shots at him for hanging on her coattails. Regardless, Meek and Drake are back on good terms, and they dropped their hit collaboration ‘Going Bad’ last year.
“You be like “who’s this?” I be like “me, girl”, you be like “oh, word, true s**t?”/Then ask if we could listen to Ludacris” - How Bout Now
This is probably my favourite of the list. It’s classic, self-effacing Drake, lamenting his girl troubles. She says she’d rather listen to Ludacris than Drake, the guy she’s dating. Ouch! Poor Drizzy.
His comedic timing is on point once again, with the pause after “oh, word, true s**t” emphasising the hilarity of the situation. It’s one of those lyrics that always makes me laugh, but then I feel bad for laughing after. Although, as Drake breaks yet another Beatles record, something tells me he doesn’t really need a whole lot of sympathy the way he’s bossing the rap game right now.
‘How Bout Now’ was originally part of Drake’s 2015 ‘If you’re reading this its too late’ mixtape, but was recently added to his 2019 ‘Care Package’ album, which serves as a compilation of his best unreleased and bonus tracks.
“Please excuse my table manners, I was making room for the table dancers” - All Me
We all know Drake loves to be up in his feelings, but he also loves a good party. Whether he’s at the strip club, on a yacht, or at a house party, he’ll turn up. But he also seems like the politest strip club customer going, and that just makes us love him even more.
‘All Me’ is one of those songs that didn’t do tremendously well in the charts, but has become a Drake fan favourite, due to its combination of uber-braggadocious lyrics, and the humorous wordplay found in each verse. As mentioned before, it was the final track on his 2013 ‘Nothing Was the Same’ album.
“She says, “You don’t know how good it is to be you ‘cause you’re him”/And I say “Well, goddamn”” - Heat of the Moment
This is actually super deep. Every now and then, Drake drops a particularly perceptive lyric that really hits you, and this underlines his dexterity as a rapper. I feel like it’s true, though. We’re so busy comparing our lives to other people’s, that we often forget to stop and be thankful for what we have in our own lives.
The Toronto megastar manages to inject a dose of humour, though, to add some levity in his response to the girl. I think it’s what most of us say in our heads when we hear this bit of heavy philosophising from him…
‘Heat of the Moment’ is another track off of Drake’s 2019 ‘Care Package compilation album, but was originally released as part of a trio that were meant to be on ‘Views’, but that hackers got to first.
Yours sincerely, but not too seriously,
Read a review of Drake's 'Scorpion' here
I got the chance to ask Erik and Elina, the EDM duo who form UNDRESSD, about the success of their recent single, 'Forever Young', as well as how they met, and what is next in store for the pair. 'Forever Young' is a buoyant, summer anthem, with Elina's hypnotic vocals flowing magically over the twinkling synth bed created by Erik.
Be sure to check it out after reading the interview below...!
You both must be buzzing right now, coming off the back of ‘Forever Young’ surpassing 5 million streams. Did you always feel it was a special song, or did this come as a bit of a shock?
When we finished the track we felt that it was something extra, but we never expected this amount of support. Just a couple of weeks after the release the phone started ringing from record labels all over the world… that was surreal.
Alphaville first recorded ‘Forever Young’ in 1984. What made you decide to cover it?
We both really love the original. It holds such beautiful melodies and lyrics. We were on a road trip when the radio played the original, and the idea popped up and we spent the night in the studio jamming and trying some ideas.
How did you guys meet, and when did you decide to start making music together?
Well… we met on Tinder, haha. Erik is more of a pop-producer and Elina more of an indie-singer-songwriter. But we were actually dating for about half a year before we realized we both should do something together. After going to the cinema and watching a movie about a famous Swedish artist, we decided to do a cover from that soundtrack. That was the start of our project.
What’s the meaning behind the name ‘UNDRESSD’?
Wish we had a good answer to this one, but we don’t! We just really needed a name for our first release, and this name just popped up.
Does the success of ‘Forever Young’ add pressure to your next release, as people will be waiting on it more expectantly than ever, or does ‘Forever Young’s success just add fuel to your fire?
It’s always hard to do a follow up to a successful song. We really want the next song to be as good as this one, if not better. But overall we just feel super excited to create more songs after this response. At the moment we’re just trying to enjoy the success of this release.
What can we expect next from UNDRESSD? Is there an album in the works?
We really like this cover game, and you can expect more songs soon. At this moment we don’t plan an album, but who knows what the future holds...!
I really love your other two singles, which are entirely in Swedish. Will there be more songs in Swedish in future, or will most from now on be in English?
Oh, thank you! We will definitely release more Swedish covers. It feels so inspiring to hear comments like ”don’t know what your singing but I’m loving it”.
Which software do you use to produce your tracks, and how long did it take to create ‘Forever Young’?
We work in Logic X. We really like how fast the workflow is there. This was a song that we turned from an idea to a solid demo in just a day, but we polished the track for a couple of weeks. We co-produced the final touch with a friend of ours, Adel Dahdal.
EDM is for many people the sound of the future, with the way it combines an electric sound with soothing melodies. What draws you to EDM as a genre in particular?
We love how EDM nowadays lets you blend organic and electronic elements. I don’t know if you can hear it in the final production, but it’s basically made of electric guitars, an acoustic guitar, a piano and even a live bass. Adding some electronic elements to that gives you that pumpy feeling.
I have a section on my blog called ‘Self-Help Songs’, where I analyse a particular song’s lyrics and see what lessons we can gain from it. What lyric would you pick out from ‘Forever Young’, or one of your other singles, that you really feel can help the listener the most?
We really love the opening of Forever Young:
Let’s dance in style
Interview by Maxim Mower
Stream UNDRESSD's hit single, 'Forever Young', on all platforms
It was awesome to get the opportunity to chat to teen stars of tomorrow, 'Refuge', about their recent 'Haven to a Heavy Soul' EP. It's clear from their answers how much they care about music as an art-form, and how passionate they are about restoring authentic music to the charts. Read what they had to say below...!
Could you give me a brief backstory as to how the band came about?
The band started in 2016 when Patrick, Gabe and Silas got together for a random, first-time-ever jam session and realised (to everyone’s surprise) that we weren’t actually terrible; the humble beginnings of any band. So we started to learn some songs, played them for friends, and eventually came to dominate the hardcore international middle school social scene!
Over time, we developed a very clear preference for the Blues, riff-driven rock, improvisation, and lots of jamming. That led to expanding membership in order to bring in all the necessary elements to complete the band, eventually adding bass (Ben), vocals (Teresa) and piano/organ (Ike). All members are multi-instrumentalists, we all write music and lyrics, and we all fell in love with the Blues, jam bands and classic rock together.
Who are the members, and what role does each person have?
(Left to Right in photo)
How did you come to choose the name ‘Refuge’?
The band is named “REFUGE” because it represents what we are all about: somewhere to escape from the superficial, inauthentic music of our times. We are not a throwback band, however; we believe blues and rock n’ roll are timeless and just need a kick from young people to bring some life into it. Our band is determined to promote righteous and soulful music to a new generation.
That said, we weren’t thinking that deeply when we named the band. We were mainly just being critical of our friends’ musical preferences and thought REFUGE sounded cool. As we evolved as a band, so did the significance of our name.
There is a clear theme of journeys and travelling woven through 'Haven', with this being highlighted on tracks such as ‘Gone Astray’ and ‘Run Through’. To what extent would you say your collective identity as ex-pats influences the music you make?
Probably quite a bit. Maybe less so in terms of musical preference; that mainly comes from our parents, especially Patrick and Teresa’s father. But being expats certainly influences our thinking and how we see the world, and that surely gets into our lyrics. We know we are privileged to live overseas in amazing places like Kenya; and we know we have been given a great opportunity to see and learn about the world’s injustices firsthand. Our parents all work in humanitarian aid and development, and they have taught us a lot about what compelled them to do what they do. We will try to honor that in our music.
Continuing on from this, you have a song called 'Tathagata's Stream'. This is a crazy coincidence, because I'm currently studying Buddhism! 'Tathagata' translates as either 'one who has thus gone' or 'one who has thus come', and the Buddha also frequently refers to himself as 'the Tathagata'. How does all this play into the meaning behind the song ‘Tathagata’s Stream’?
You got it! Well the song was written before we had a title for it. After listening to the studio cut, someone mentioned that it sounded very stream-of-consciousness. The irony is that Patrick wrote that entire song out well before recording, and had even performed it at a few gigs. He was going for something drifty though, with emotional ups and downs. Since we already had some knowledge of Buddhism, we imagined this song to be like the internal thinking of someone meditating. Meditation is not all silent and serene; it can make you experience all kinds of emotions, and we thought this song kind of reflected that. So we called it “Tathagata’s Stream” (i.e. Buddha’s thought process). There’s no religious connotation though. “Tathagata” was used to represent the idea that thoughts come and go… even enlightened thoughts!
Despite having no lyrics, ‘The Wordless Ballad of Utharelius Tyne’ is one of my favourite songs right now! It just pulls me along through all kinds of emotions when I listen to it. What’s the story behind it, and who is Utharelius Tyne?
That’s awesome, thanks! The song developed gradually. Its biggest inspirations were probably Jimmy Page’s acoustic stuff (with Zeppelin) as well as John Butler’s solo work. After we made the song, we noted that it had a very trippy Celtic sound to it, which conjured up a bunch of medieval imagery for us. Somehow this got us imagining a wandering storyteller/poet that travels from pub to pub telling stories and making people’s lives just a little more interesting. That guy needed a name… so we took the name Patrick and Teresa’s younger brother came up with for one of his own short stories, Utharelius Tyne. Sounds real… but it totally isn’t.
It’s quite bold, for your first EP, to have numerous tracks that clock in over 7 minutes and that don’t have lyrics, but it’s also a move that I feel pays off. In creating this album, how did you balance the drive to generate popularity and radio plays, with the more artistic desire to make music you genuinely love and are really proud of
Great question. We went with the second option entirely. Since we are young, there is no rush for us to get lots of radio plays or have the popularity of a mainstream band. We want to succeed, but we have plenty of time. For now, our priority is originality and doing what we love. We know that will gradually get the kind of fans we want as well, i.e. people who love jamming. That said, we also have some short, 3-minute songs. Those are actually harder to write because you have to convey everything you want to convey so succinctly. We should also point out that REFUGE doesn’t want to be a “standard” band that hides behind (or plays second fiddle to) the lead singer. Instrumentation is a big part of our identity, and it is so lacking in popular music today. Everything is so computerized now that there is literally no “feel”, at least not beyond the vocalist. And how could there be? Feel comes from imperfect timing, from stretching out a sound that invokes a sentiment. Algorithms can’t do that.
I absolutely love the album cover, it’s such an imposing but uplifting image, and I think that epitomises the mood of the EP as a whole. What does the image represent to you?
We call it “The Heavy”. That’s another aspect of the band that has evolved over time. At this point, it represents that potential fan that we are looking for, and that hopefully is looking for us. The gas mask implies that he’s stuck in the “real” world, where so much music is phony and soulless (i.e. toxic). But it’s optimistic. The reflection of “REFUGE” on his goggles means that he found us. The psychedelic colors around him imply that finding us has created some kind of positive spirit or vibe. And the giant ‘fro… well that just looks cool. It also acknowledges our African origins.
Which artists inspire you the most?
Oh man, where do we start?!
We guess it’s pretty obvious that we are mainly into ‘60/70s blues, psychedelic and southern rock. That said, we have a ton of other interests as well, such as roots reggae, funk, jazz, R&B, bluegrass and Outlaw country.
Our influences are broad but some of the artists we listen to the most (and appreciate) include the Allman Brothers, Ten Years After, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Santana, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Grateful Dead, Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Eric Clapton and Blues greats such as Albert King, Elmore James and Buddy Guy.
Finally, I have a section on my blog called ‘Self-Help Songs’, where I analyse a particular song’s lyrics and see what lessons we can gain from it. Which of your lyrics would you say you would want listeners to pay close attention to, that you feel can help people the most?
That’s pretty cool that you give song lyrics proper attention. We won’t pretend to claim philosopher status, but we definitely agree with you that lyricists are poets (or at least they should be) who can have profound impacts on their listeners. We hope to do that someday. For now, we are happy with what we have been able to write and we think it sends a decent message of what REFUGE is all about.
Two songs that probably do this best are “A Brighter Day” and “Saw It Coming”. Generally we like to write in metaphor, and even better if the lyrics have some kind of double meaning. In a literal sense, our song lyrics tend to sound like someone speaking to the person they are (or were) in a relationship with. But they go beyond that. “A Brighter Day” has a feminist message and thumbs its nose at an overly judgmental society. “Saw It Coming” is about climate change, spoken in the first person by Mother Earth herself.
Interview by Maxim Mower
Stream Refuge's Haven to a Heavy Soul EP on all platforms
ALBUM COVER - The Lion King: The Gift, Beyoncé
Despite all the hate the new Lion King movie has had aimed its way, something we can salvage from all the wreckage is a new Beyoncé album. At first, I just chose this album cover because it looks really imposing, elegant and classy - all words synonymous with Queen Bey herself. But the more I look at it, the more I realise that it’s actually the perfect image for the Lion King, because on one level it conveys the power struggle between Mufasa and Scar, and later Simba and Scar. But also it points to the ‘circle of life’ (try saying that without breaking into song), and of all the animals playing their part in the merry-go-round of life and death. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading so much about Buddhism for my thesis this summer, and the image reminds me a bit of samsara, the wheel of rebirth, and also a little of Taoism’s Yin and Yang. Either way, it’s a super cool image, and one I definitely gravitate towards.
SONG LYRIC - “She’s giving me ultimatums, I told her I like tomatoes”, Chance the Rapper
Um…ok, Chance. You go ahead and tell her that *insert confused emoji*.
After the heavy meanings of the lyrics in my last post on anxiety (which you can read here), for this month’s Best Song Lyric I simply went for something that is fun and made me smile. Chance the Rapper is a soundbite maestro, with ‘Don’t Forget the Happy Thoughts’ now emblazoned across T-Shirts and Hoodies galore. What I love about this lyric is it is completely nonsensical, but it’s this ridiculousness that makes it utterly hilarious. At least next time your partner gives you any ultimatums, you know what to say…
Although on second thought, maybe don’t try this one at home, folks.
SONG TITLE - Post Malone - Sam Feldt ft. RANI
It’s not particularly inventive, but I always feel it’s kind of meta when an artist uses another artist for the name of their song. The Chainsmokers did it on their early track, ‘Kanye’, and it’s a good way of enticing the listener in, because regardless of whether you’re a fan of the name-checked artist or not, it makes you wonder how they fit into the song’s story and lyrics. It’s also a clever marketing tool, because Post Malone currently has a song in the charts. Maybe it’s just the equivalent of when bloggers look up which keywords are being googled the most and use it as the title for their next post!
MUSIC VIDEO - Beautiful People, Ed Sheeran ft. Khalid
There were lots of contenders for this one. Chris Brown and Drake’s ‘No Guidance’ is hilarious, and worth a watch solely for Drake’s self-deprecating dance moves. Equally, another of Ed’s visuals, his collaboration with Travis Scott for ‘Antisocial’, is wonderfully off-the-wall and wacky. Having said that, after having watched it a good 5 times I still have no clue what it’s about.
‘Beautiful People’ is a poignant rejection of the star-studded, luxurious lifestyle that celebrities often pursue. It follows a middle-aged, down-to-earth couple as they are forced to look on in bemusement at the glitz and glamour of the house parties and fashion shows that engulf them. What’s sweet is they continue to live exactly as they would if they were on a cul-de-sac in Stoke, as opposed to the mock L.A. in the music video. While everyone else is partying, the wife makes the husband a cuppa, and before long they are tucked up in bed with sleeping masks as the music and drinking continues around them. It sums up the message of the song - ‘Droptop, designer clothes/Front row at fashion shows’, before Ed emphatically protests, ‘That’s not who we are’.
It’s grounding, and refreshing. And the couple in the video are just too darn adorable for me not to pick this as video of the month.
Read my review of Ed's new album here
Yours sincerely, but not too seriously,
Talk about a flex. I'd love to say I relate, but personally me and the naps are way too attached, to go and do that.
This is taken from Gyalchester, off Drake's album/extended playlist, More Life. Enjoy!
Yours sincerely, but not too seriously,
Read last week's DrakeDay lyric here
You might also like 'Drake's Scorpion attacks with Charm, not Venom'
Stream Drake's latest project, 'Care Package', and check out some merch, below,
It's clear that we often lean heavily on music when we are going through something. It has the powerful ability to lift you up, to relax your mind, or to simply let you know you're not alone in your struggle.
Of course, usually music alone is no remedy to the troubles we face, but it can be helpful nonetheless. Different people can draw out different meanings from various sets of lyrics, such is the subjective beauty of art.
The following is a selection of hand-picked lyrics that are aimed specifically at easing your worries and allaying your fears. Some may become new cri de coeurs, some may simply wash over you without having much effect. But hopefully in shining a spotlight on particularly useful lyrics, there will be at least one that will really resonate with you...
Don't you worry, don't you worry, child/See Heaven's got a plan for you
1. Swedish House Mafia, Don't You Worry Child
You don't have to believe in Heaven, or be religious at all for that matter, to appreciate this. Personally the message I gain from this is that no matter how low you are feeling, or how difficult it may be right now, in the long run you will always be okay. I have a saying that I'm always annoying my friends with - 'Even when it doesn't go to plan, it does'. This could be God's plan (shoutout Drake...), the Universe's plan, or simply your ultimate plan for your life. In the end, the struggle makes you who you are.
Oh, my darlin', put your worries on me/Can't judge you 'cause I feel the same thing
2. Ed Sheeran, Put It All On Me feat. Ella Mai
I really like this one, because it sounds fairly generic at first, but peering deeper into it reveals a significant message. For me, it's the idea that it's okay to ask someone for help when you're going through something. Don't be too prideful or too ashamed to lean on other people. There's a good chance they're going through something similar.
Have a look at my review of Ed Sheeran's 'No.6 Collaborations Project' here
Ain't in no hurry, I'd be a fool now to worry/About all those things I can't change
3. Zac Brown Band, No Hurry
This is the central Zac Brown Band mantra of 'Que sera sera', and to not let things that are out of your control get you down. If you have a problem, address it, and if there is a solution go about achieving it. If there is no solution, then leave it behind. It's irrelevant.
Check out a more detailed look at No Hurry in this Self-Help Songs post
Everything that's broke, leave it to the breeze/Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
4. James Bay, Let It Go
This is a great quote, because it echoes the previous notion of letting things that are out of your control go. Often we can torment ourselves over what could have been, or what we should have done. "Leave it to the breeze", and don't be stuck in the past. Also, this takes on another meaning in the sense of what you might see as 'broken' parts of your personality or appearance. Just be yourself - we hear it time and time again, but it's true. Why be someone you're not, when you're awesome just the way you are (shoutout Bruno Mars...)
Today I missed my workout, but it worked out/Now I'm missing work now, but it worked out
5. Chance the Rapper, Work Out
Okay, this seems like a random quote to have included. But it resonates with me quite strongly, because I think we can overthink the details of our lives, and be too hard on ourselves when we don't match up to our expectations. It's great to be disciplined and driven, but cut yourself some slack - don't be too hard on yourself (shoutout Jess Glynne...okay, I'm going to stop with all the cross-referencing now...!). Also, remember to have fun! Charlie Hoehn wrote a great article about how 'Play' cured his anxiety, read that here.
You might also like...Self-Help Songs, 'How to Be Positive', by Chance the Rapper
Gonna to put the world away for a minute/Pretend I don't live in it/Sunshine's gonna wash my blues away
6. Zac Brown Band, Knee Deep
Yes, I know, it's ANOTHER Zac Brown Band song. Talk about biased. But this artist more than any other epitomises for me the feeling of just kicking back, relaxing, and taking the strain off of your mind. They're not talking about a literal vacation here, it's a mental one. We all carry around with us personal spas in the form of meditation. Get away for free!
Then I felt my pulse quickening/But regrets can't change anything...Joy, set my mind free/I was giving up, oh, I was giving in
7. Bastille, Joy
Another poignant lyric about letting the past be the past. Don't agonise and torment yourself over something you can't change. Also I added the second part of the lyrics, because it emphasises the positive message of the song. Just when you are thinking of giving in, don't! Relief from your pain could literally just be around the corner.
And when all broken-hearted people/Living in the world agree/There will be an answer/Let it be
8. The Beatles, Let It Be
This iconic song is probably most famous for having an amazing melody, as all The Beatles' songs do. But the lyrics really hit home, and underline what a lot of the other lyrics in this article have been saying. Don't fight against an immovable obstacle, especially if it is behind you - turn around, and let it go. Let it be.
You might also like...'Self-Help Songs, How to worry less'
Drake's lyrics have spawned internet-breaking acronyms, viral dance challenges, and world famous slogans. The Toronto rapper's ability to inject generous doses of wit and humour into observations that, when you stop to think about it, actually hold a lot of insight, has made him the lyrical figurehead of the internet era.
Yes, we've all seen 'KiKi, do you love me?' and 'YOLO' doing the rounds on the internet. But this blog series will be highlighting the best Drake lyrics that have flown under the radar. Whether they are amusing, jarring or just downright ridiculous - this is the place you'll find them.
So join me every Thursday for the event of the week. Forget Transfer Deadline Day, Valentine's Day or Father's Day (I'm joking of course...I don't want to be responsible for any present-less partners and fathers...!).
This is the Day to eclipse all Days. Every Thursday. At www.maximoco.com.
It's #DrakeDay, people.
The first lyric goes up later today...follow this blog so you don't miss it!
Yours sincerely, but not too seriously,
Hello! I'm currently studying Philosophy & Theology at Oxford University, UK. Having always loved writing and music in equal measure, and having always hated decision-making, I figured hey, why do I need to choose between the two?
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