This article originally appeared in Mindful Melody Issue 5, which you can read here.
"I've come to a point where I have to start writing my own story"
Hi Andreas! Thank you for taking the time to chat today. I love the new single, ‘Holding On’, and what strikes me most is how you progress from holding on to letting go, finishing with an emphatic, liberating crescendo. What inspired you to build the song in this way?
I think you’re on point. In the outro, I’ve come to a point where I’m like, ‘This is where I have to really start writing my own story'. It’s so easy to just say 'I have to change this' or 'I have to do this' in order to become a better or happier person. But it’s so much easier said than done. This song has been in my phone for about two or three years as a voice memo, and it wasn’t until more recently when I was with my friend Hannah in Stockholm that we tried to finish it. I remember I was saying I want to write about something I genuinely feel at this moment, and I felt like I was holding onto all these little things, without really needing to. I’m always overanalysing, I always think too much, and I’m too proud - things like that. I think the verse and the chorus is describing how I’m making the same mistakes over and over again, and not going places at all. Sometimes it’s good to just try and let go of these things - but again, it’s so hard!
The lyric “one of these days I will burn every page and tell a story that is only mine” is very powerful. You’ve previously collaborated with some big names in EDM, such as Avicii and Tiësto. In a way, this immediately put you into the box of being an 'EDM singer'. Did you find this restrictive?
I’ve always felt like this EDM side of me is something that I fell into by accident. I realised that my voice fits on these tracks, and I had the chance to work with these really cool artists. But then I reached a point where I felt like this isn’t really me. I still do it occasionally, but I’ve realised I have to do it in a way that still shows people my personality and who I am musically. I’ve never wanted to identify myself as an EDM singer - I’m just a guy with a guitar playing my songs.
You have an EP being released this spring. What’s the release date, and can fans expect a continuation of the motivational nature of ‘Holding On’?
I’ve never believed in putting too much energy on really trying to create ‘a sound', you know? I put more weight on, ‘Do I enjoy listening to this?’, and if I do, then that’s great. Because of the pandemic, I had plans of recording everything in a professional studio, but come April I was stuck in this room with my songs. So I decided to produce it myself, and it was a tough decision for me, because I’ve never had the courage to do that before. This EP will grow into an album throughout the year. I’ve really had the best time of trying to produce something that I feel is me, and I think I’ve really succeeded on this - I’m really happy with it. I think ‘Holding On’ is probably the most energetic and driving song off the EP.
Although the pandemic has been a hindrance for musicians in obvious ways, a lot of artists also speak of how it’s forced them to try new things and get into a creative space they wouldn’t previously have entered.
I almost feel guilty saying it, but this pandemic has made me a lot better musically, but also as a human being. It’s been such a nightmare in so many ways, like not being able to see loved ones and people getting sick and passing away - all horrible, horrible things. But I have to try and see the positive things that have been going on in my life through this time as well. And one of those is music - I never would have had this finished EP and album if it wasn’t for the pandemic.
You mentioned that the EPs released this year will eventually form part of an album. What’s the planned rollout for this?
I’m a guy who loves albums. If you love an album, like I love Grace by Jeff Buckley, and Blue by Joni Mitchell, it’s almost like the full album is a song. Before the next song even starts, you know the key and tempo it will have. It’s a journey, and to me it’s the best way to release music. But unfortunately for me, I was born in the wrong time! I hate that people don’t have the patience to sit through an album anymore. Before recording this, I said that if I’m doing this, I want to release an album. It doesn’t have to be an album straight away, as long as it ends up being a beautiful album with beautiful artwork and the songs are there in the right order.
For now, we have an EP coming out in May, and that’ll be four songs. Then there’s going to be two more singles after that, and then there’ll be an album coming out with eleven songs. It’s going to be a year with a lot of music coming from me, and I’m super excited about it!
Another recent single was your cover of Kanye’s ‘Power’. I’m a big Kanye fan, so I’m often protective of the original versions...but I have to say I really love your rendition! It sounds so distinctive, while still capturing the rebellious mood of the original. What inspired you to cover this song in particular?
‘Power’ is one of my favourite songs of all time, so it wasn’t until I released it and saw some of the reactions that I thought about how everything about Kanye is a lot. Everything from his fans to his music - everything. To me, it’s one of those amazing songs that meant so much to me when I was back in high school - it was the theme of my life back then. I couldn’t stop listening to it, and that whole album is just a masterpiece. I was hoping I did it justice and that people would like it, but I didn’t expect people to be like, ‘Oh, you don’t mess with Kanye’s music!’ I just laugh about it though.
You often release acoustic versions of your singles, which puts the songs in a whole new light. The acoustic version of ‘Holding On’, for example, sounds a lot more vulnerable and quietly resilient, rather than being as outwardly euphoric as the original. What drives you to release acoustic versions alongside the originals?
I think everyone listens to music in a different way. If I show you one of my songs, maybe you’ll focus on the guitar, because your a guitar player, or you’ll focus on the lyrics, because you like poetry. I think releasing different versions lets you see the song in a new way, whereas with the original version, I wanted to catch the energy and frustration. It’s like saying something that’s important to you, but you say it from a different perspective, and you try and get more people to understand what you mean.
Which version of 'Holding On’ do you prefer?
It’s so hard to say! They both speak to me in different ways - but I am a sucker for acoustic versions. To me it’s just more raw and genuine and emotional. It’s more naked, and you can always put more clothes on a song with more drums and more guitars to make it sound bigger. Whereas with an acoustic version, if it’s a great song, you’re going to hear it, whereas if it’s not a great song, it’s exposed when it’s played acoustically. That’s where the magic is to me.
In 2019, you released ’Out of Your Body’ as part of the Love Fast, Heal Slow EP, and this has such a great mental health message, with lyrics such as, “Break if you gotta break, hurt if you need to hurt, cry if you wanna cry, just get it out of your body”. For you personally, does songwriting act as a cathartic outlet for you?
I mean, music to me means so much. If I’m absolutely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to music and felt like I’m healed, or if I’m sad, feeling anxiety or feeling low, I’ve never listened to music and all of sudden felt better. A lot of people can relate to a song and relate to the lyrics and it just gives them something that lifts them up, and I’ve never really experienced that. But I think writing music and performing music is a way for me to escape from thoughts and real life just for a little while, and that really helps me. You know how when you say things out loud, they all of a sudden become real, and you think about them differently? So I can be thinking about something for ages, and then I write a song about it, and all of a sudden, I get it. Just say what you want to say, don’t keep it inside, because it’ll eat you up. I think music to me is a way of healing, but not listening to music, more writing music. It’s like a diary or journal for me.
You worked with Avicii on one of his very first singles, ‘Fade Into Darkness’, which is another galvanising anthem. The lyrics seem even more pertinent since his passing, and you actually performed ‘Fade Into Darkness' at the Avicii tribute concert. What was that experience like?
It was such a big thing for me to be a part of that concert, because I know that it meant so much to so many people out there, and it also meant so much to me. I know what it’s like to live with anxiety and to be in dark places in life, and it felt so good to be on that stage and sing straight from my heart to everyone out there that’s ever felt the same. I think ‘Fade Into Darkness’ couldn’t be more relatable at this time - ‘I won’t let you fade into darkness, whatever happens’ - I’ll do my best to pick you up. It was incredible, it was like a dream, and it’s something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. The whole atmosphere was bittersweet - everyone was running around crying backstage, but everyone was also smiling, and there was such a weird but beautiful tension in the air. With the artists there was no feeling of ‘I’m more successful than you’ or ‘I’ve made more money than you’ - there was nothing like that. Everyone was just there for the same sole purpose, and that was to spread this amazing, beautiful message. I’m really happy to have been a part of that.
What are your favourite three songs with a theme of mental health?
1. Willy Mason - Carry On
2. The Perishers - Pills
3. The Beatles - Help!
Stream Andreas' new EP, 'All Our Worries Are Poems - Pt. 1', which is out now and features recent singles 'Hey Lulu' and 'Holding On'!
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