Singer/songwriter/producer Spazz Cardigan is back with a brand new single entitled “S.O.S”.
Following the single “DOITDOIT”, the Nashville-based artist is now offering an anthemic pop song written by Spazz Cardigan and Kevin Griffin.
“I don’t think I’ve ever put out a song that excites me this much. I cannot wait to play it live. I think a lot of people are going to get something out of it, and it’s going to be a really cathartic song for a room of people to scream together,” says Cardigan.
“S.O.S” is off his upcoming EP “vulnerabilia”, out March 22nd.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
Nashville; originally from a few hours north, in Kentucky, but I’ve lived in Nashville for 6 years now.
What's your story?
I was always making music. I picked up piano and guitar but I was pretty young, started playing gigs when I was about 10 and then taught myself to produce and for years I was putting music everywhere online and selling CDs or shirts at shows and trying to start a business. I moved to Nashville after high school to write and produce for other people, fell pretty flat on my face within a year of that and then took a break from music-as-my-whole-life for two years while I made the first Spazz album. Before then, nothing was really happening with my music. I would put out songs and they would get maybe a few hundred streams tops, I worked loads of part time jobs to cover rent, and then about a month after I dropped the first Spazz album I played SXSW in 2017. After that the landscape just started changing. Suddenly there was a seedling pop and alternative scene in Nashville and it became much easier to cultivate an audience through streaming. So by the time I started putting out singles last year music became my full-time job and I had a great team in place to really work the music.
Do you remember your early musical memories?
The furthest back I can remember is being absolutely obsessed with Disney soundtracks as a little kid. ‘Tarzan’ in particular is something I remember memorizing obsessively. After that, I remember really falling in love with my sisters CD collection around 99 and 2000. Nsync and the Backstreet Boys are what I thought “Music” was until I was 9 or 10.
When did you realize music was more than just a hobby?
I don’t think I ever thought of it as a hobby. I wasn’t a fantastic student and I really didn’t want to go to college, but I never remember a time where I didn’t think that I was going to be a musician.
At what point did you know you could sing?
I definitely sang all the time as a kid, but that’s not really specific to me because kids are just so free with expressing themselves and singing. I think at some point when I was about 8 or 9 I just heard enough adults comment on my singing that I started to internalize “Oh yeah! Maybe I should do that more”.
When did you decide to become an artist and release your original music? What did your friends and family think of it?
I started putting music out when I was about 12. My family was definitely behind it. My dad's been a small business owner my entire life, so they were supportive of whatever I wanted to do as long as I figured out how to make an income doing it.
For my friends I think it may have been a little weird. In school I don’t know that I really had much of an identity other than “oh, he does music”. I got good enough grades and I was pretty outspoken and politically pretty young, but from the time I was 13 on I would go to school in Kentucky and then drive to Nashville to play pretty much every day with my dad. I never got very close with people of my own age because I was always so focused on trying to make music work out, and when I had friends I think it got difficult to really relate most of the time.
You released your debut album in 2017. What did you learn about yourself and as an artist after releasing this first project?
I learned that I make my best music when I pretend I am the only one who’s ever going to hear it or care, and to take myself much less seriously. I have so much love for the process of creating that first Spazz album, but by the time I released it it had been complete for about a year so I had a lot of time to see the flaws in it by the time it came out. That really helped me going into the next year of writing though.
You’ve just released your new single “S.O.S”. What’s the story behind this song?
I wrote “S.O.S.” the same week as my last single, “DOIDOIT”, and they both stemmed from me feeling very burned out after a year of working constantly and always tearing myself apart. I noticed myself having the same breakdown again and again, finding the same solutions again and again, and then getting back to the same situation just a few months later. “S.O.S.” is me noticing that pattern and wanting to get over it, to get out of my own way and move on.
What made you want to release this song as a single?
It’s so fun. I don’t think I’ve ever put out a song that excites me this much. I cannot wait to play it live. I think a lot of people are going to get something out of it, and it’s going to be a really cathartic song for a room of people to scream together.
What message do you want to convey through this song?
Move on. Let the past be the past.
What appeals you the most about making music?
The challenge of trying to say something that’s been said before and finding new ways to say it. I really feel out of touch from people and culture a lot of the time, so making music has become a sort of exercise in trying to relate to people and feel like I am understood. Somewhere in there, hopefully other people feel understood.
What equipments and softwares do you usually use?
I love working across a bunch of different platforms. All of the singles last year were made differently with a handful of different producers. Typically though, I produce on Logic. I’ve never had a load of money so I’ve definitely developed some tricks to make my songs sound as big as possible without sinking my money into different plug-ins and rackmount gear. When I work at home, I’m working with my Logic rig, a 49-key midi controller, a PreSonus Firepod I’ve had since 2007, and an ST55 I’ve had since 2011.
On my upcoming EP, I was able to work with Jamie Liddel — who’s been a hero of mine since I was a teenager. Jamie offered to let me produce the EP at his studio, West Air, and he engineered all of the vocals. For the "S.O.S." and the EP, I produced all of the drums, guitars, synthesizers, and bass at my home studio, and then I would go in with Jamie to track final vocals get any sounds that I wanted on analog synthesizers or to record weirder guitar sounds through some of his equipment. All of the vocals on the EP were tracked on an SM7B, except for one song that we tracked on a U47. I would record background vocals back at my home studio and edit the songs to the final version you'll hear.
In your opinion, what makes a good production?
When there is just enough happening musically to support the vocal and express the feeling the song is supposed to give me. It doesn’t matter if a song has hip or current production if it makes you feel nothing. Bells and whistles are pointless if they don’t serve the song.
What advices would you give to young producers?
Give yourself the freedom to fuck up. You are the only person who wants your career to happen as quickly as you want it to happen, and you will never be as good as you could be if you don’t spend thousands of hours making awful music that you think is incredible at the time. Put things online and accept feedback; The Internet is a tremendous asset to get opinions on what you’re making.
Why do you make music? What keeps you going?
To make people feel something. I’m very depressed by the state of music right now. Not in how electronic it is, or how much autotune there — I actually love all of that; I mean that the music itself is depressing. The top 10 on Spotify at any given moment in the last year sounds like listening to Xanax. And I understand it, because everyone is so anxious right now, but I feel like no one makes music for the sake of injecting life into people right now. It’s all just so numb, and it’s something I think we will look back on and really regret in about five or six years because an entire generation of kids is going to grow up thinking that music is supposed to just help you not feel anything. An entire generation of kids will grow up thinking that music only exists to exist — that it’s just something you do for the sake of a brand. I think that tide will turn, too, eventually. And when music with a pulse becomes chic again, then maybe I'll make some more downtempo stuff. At any point, I'm trying to create whatever I want to hear as a listener, or what I feel doesn't currently exist.
How do you want to be remembered for?
Saying something that punches you in the gut. Waking people up in some way so that we can start making active systemic change to the government. Seriously.
What are your goals for 2019?
I'll be dropping a new EP in the spring, I have a pretty cool collaboration coming out shortly after that I won’t spoil, and then my goal is to tour. Finally meet these incredible humans that care about my music on Spotify and social media, and just give them hugs.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Compassion. The deconstruction of gender roles, race roles, and completely re-writing what it means to be a First World culture. Banning for-profit prisons and corporate lobbying would go a long way in the United States.
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