Hailing from the n
The indie-pop singer-songwriter made time to talk with The Phoenix after his Thursday set at Lollapalooza, his signature dark curls falling over his eyes as he spoke on the impact of growing up in Chicago, his plans for the future and his tour in the fall.
Have you always lived in Chicago?
Until I was 18.
How has Chicago impacted your music?
Chicago is just such a cool place to grow up if you like music. Everyone tours in Chicago, so as long as my parents gave me 15 bucks I could go see whoever I wanted growing up, which was awesome.
How has Chicago influenced your music in the creative process?
Growing up in the north suburbs, Fall Out Boy was from the town over and when I was in middle school they were starting to pop off, and for the first time it felt like, “This could be my life. I don’t have to just play in my basement. I can make this a career in some way.” We took guitar lessons at the same place and all of a sudden they’re famous. I was like, “Oh fuck, that can happen?”
Are there any other artists from Chicago that have inspired you?
Yeah, I’m friends with the Louis The Child dudes. They’re incredible. So inspiring. I think musically we’re very different but there is some overlap in the Venn diagram.
How was your first Lollapalooza?
It was surreal. Looking out and seeing such a cool mix of people I don’t know who are fucking with [my music], and people I do know, who I’ve known my whole life and have seen me play at pizza places and bars and stuff. So to get onstage it did not feel real, it was awesome. I was so sad when it was over.
Do you write your own music?
Yeah, I write and produce it all myself.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I listen to a lot of stuff. I listen to a lot of old stuff like Hall & Oates and Fleetwood Mac. Tears for Fears. Bands like that. I think melodically they’re so interesting. My favorite artist right now is Bad Bunny. So production-wise, if I can take one part of a Bad Bunny song and put it in my music, I’m stoked.
Are you releasing any new music soon?
I got a song coming out tonight. I played it [today]. It’s called “Another Summer Night Without You.” I’m really excited about that. I only have four songs out, so every song that comes out still feels enormous. So I’m really proud and happy.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully main stage, late night spot. That’s the dream. I want to be the biggest artist in the world.
Are there any artists here that you want to see?
Yeah, I have a bunch of friends who are playing, which is so cool, and it’s so cool seeing friends up there. The Louis The Child dudes, Jeremy Zucker, Role Model, The Strokes. Just kidding, I’m not friends with The Strokes. Well, I’m friends with them, they’re not friends with me.
Did you do anything in high school that made you realize you wanted to be a musician?
I played in a lot of bands in high school, I did a lot of shows by myself. Shows in bars, three hour sets, the most exhausting shit ever. My parents would have to come because I was under 21 obviously. I did a bunch of pizza shops, a million charity events. To me, being onstage is like a drug, it’s like the most fun thing you could ever do. So I was always looking for any way that I could actually make this my life. Hopefully we’ll get there.
How did the artists you listened to growing up inspire you?
Growing up, I was obsessed with finding bands early, as I think a lot of people who are fans of music are, and seeing them go from something where I was one of the only fans to playing a festival or something like this, it’s super inspiring to me.
Do you plan on putting an album out anytime soon?
This fall. Something. Not exactly sure what it will look like yet, but some project of some kind. This fall, for sure.
What would you say is the most difficult part of the process, being so new to it?
I think it’s just a lot of ups and downs. One day, you can get the best news ever, and the next day it can fucking suck. You try to write a song and write a horrible song and feel incredibly defeated. So it’s just kind of weathering the ebbs and flows of this career choice.
What do you do when you get in a funk like that?
I love taking walks. Calling a family member helps break it up. I design all the merch and stuff too, so when I’m stuck in a rut while writing a song or something like that, I’ll just stop and do something else. I’ll make a new t-shirt or work on a single or something.
What have been the most definitive moments for you?
This, for sure. Growing up in Chicago, this was the dream. This was it to me. And now it’s not it, but growing up I thought if you played Lollapalooza, you made it. You’re a billionaire and you do music for the rest of your life. Now I understand not every artist playing has that kind of sustainability or security, but it still is surreal to be up there.
What kind of message do you want to send through your music and to your fans?
My biggest thing is just people being nice to each other. My songs are pretty real and positive and sometimes they’re not happy, but positive in some semblance of the word. I love how people who are fans of me become friends with each other and they didn’t know each other before that. That’s my favorite thing. So if I could replicate that feeling in any way, that’s what I’m trying to do.
Now that you’ve performed at Lolla, what are your sights set on next?
The tour is coming up this fall, which I’m really excited about. I’m touring with mxmtoon for the first part of it, and then I’ve got some shows with Omar Apollo, he’s so cool. So that’s kind of what’s next, and then just getting this project out, finishing songs. I got a lot of new songs that I’m really proud of and excited to share.