Photo by Dennis M. Kelly
You’ve made a lot of music for other people and now you’re making music for yourself. How is that different?
It’s different in a lots of ways. Making music for other people for me is to dive into their mindset and try to think like them while making music. So in a lot of ways it’s very instinctual. But with myself I have so much love for many different genres of music, so there’s a lot more experimentation when I make music for myself. I try to put together things I’ve never thought about before, sort of challenging myself, I guess. At the end of the day, you try to make an artist happy and make them the most them they can be when you work with them, but with me, it’s hard to do that with yourself. Sometimes you just try different things and explore. It’s just more exploratory.
You say you get inside of somebody else’s head, so it’s kind of almost a very intimate thing to make music for someone else.
It is. It is very intimate because usually artists write about things that they care about and is very personal to them. So being a part of communicating things that mean something to a person that they want to say to the world in a certain way, and in a certain light. It’s a lot of responsibility. I take that very seriously. It definitely is a very intimate process for sure. It always helps to spend some time getting to know the person first. Then it’s easier to be vulnerable around each other, and create something hopefully special.
I read in another interview that you were saying that you don’t like to write music when you’re feeling really emotional like right after a breakup. You like to wait a while. Do you think that your music ends up being a little bit more cerebral?
In a sense I guess, but I think that’s been more the case with previous music that I’ve made. I think that’s actually been changing a lot for me lately in the past year or so. I feel like I’m writing much more closely to the episodes in my life that inspire the songs. It’s almost as if in that scenario you have to be real with yourself, and that can be tricky when you’re going through certain emotional things. So I think it’s been difficult for me, but I’m getting way better at it. And I really like the music that comes out of it. It very honest. That might have been the case, a million percent, but right now I do feel like that’s changing a little bit for me.
Do you think it’s that you’re getting older?
Maybe. Maybe I’m getting used to experiences more, so it’s easier for me to process them, they’re not so new to me. I might have a better perspective on things. I guess it is a process of growing up (laughs).
When you go to perform something, and your music is really emotional like that, is it like opening up your wounds on stage every night?
It can be. I’ve written music like that, that takes me back to that day or person or scent or feeling or whatever. It happens. I’ve definitely had periods of time when I’ve performed music that’s been very emotional to perform every time. But it usually gets easier with time as those same things heal and process.
Are you enjoying Lollapalooza?
I love Lollapalooza. It really is one of my favorite festivals in the entire world. And I have been to A LOT of them. I enjoy it here a lot. And Chicago is a very special city to me. I spend a lot of time here. I make a lot of music with people from here. And a lot of music from here has influenced me. I would say Kanye West is one of my main influences, so I think Chicago has a very special place in my heart. Whenever I get to come here, especially for Lolla, where all my friends from Chicago gather every day, it’s pretty cool. So yea, I love Lollapalooza.
I think Lollapalooza loves you.
I hope so. That would be amazing.
Were you put in as a last-minute set change?
Yes it was very last minute. It was an unfortunate situation where an artist couldn’t make it to his set, and I was randomly here. I was playing a side show actually a couple of days ago. We did this crazy sideshow at Lincoln Hall, and I haven’t actually played Chicago in a show of my own in almost 3 years. So it almost felt like coming home in a sense. Like I’ve spent so much time here, but I haven’t played to the people who are here. So I brought up all my friends Chance came out. Tokyo came out. Vic came out. Jaden came out. Knox came out. It was just like a huge party and we went super crazy. So I was here anyway for that, so I had all my gear I might as well play if you want me to play. Kind of a happy accident.
Well thank you for talking with us. Is there anything else you want to add?
Well I said I love Chicago, and that’s the most important message that I had!