Talk to me a little about the new single “War” and how you wrote it and some of the meaning behind it.
“War!” started as just the chorus hook, sung into my phone in the car. I was reminiscing on my recent breakup, and how silly and childish the fallout had been; there was so much trash talking on her end to try and embarrass me to our friends, and I felt the need to write something that would allow me to “take up arms” against it. I also needed the statement to be bold, and grandiose…the opposite of everything I’d been when we were together. That’s why the song is so stylized and in-your-face. The raps came from me needing to call her out on a whole laundry list of specifics, which manifested in a LOT of words. Some of my grievances are obvious, like her prolonging our feud and not working very hard to release her own music. Some of the others are buried incredibly deep, and coded so that only “Juanita” will get the double meaning; lines like “them idyllic days are over” and “your big proboscis out of of my s***, miss” are weaponized in ways that serve more than one purpose. Writing between the lines with my lyrics was one of my favorite parts of this album.
Were your parents involved in performing arts or music to kind of guide you or was this something you picked up and wanted to do on your own?
They have always been extremely supportive and helpful with guiding me along, but the decision to move forward was mine every time it came up. I was the one who wanted to start doing musicals as a kid, and I was the one that nagged them constantly to try out on-camera acting in LA. Once I had a slight taste of film acting in St. Louis, I was totally screwed and needed my fix…there’s not really much of a market for that in Missouri, so eventually we went west.
What instruments do you play besides singing?
I’m a keyboard player, and that’s what I use to write my songs and make my demos. I can’t play guitar at all, but for some reason dozens of friends and colleagues of mine swear that I did at some point, so you can count that as well.
All of this! We’ve got a couple other show dates soon to be announced to follow up the first show, and way more to come once the album is mastered and done. There will be a lot more sneak peeks at the music and extra content before the record drops as well. Just the thought of being done and being able to take it on the road is so exciting for me; the first show with the new tunes was such a thrill.
Who are some of your musical influences growing up and being still a young musician?
The rock influence came from my dad, who gave me exposure to the classic stuff and the modern sound when I was little. There’s a lot of My Chemical Romance and early Maroon 5 in my sound from that. Then the more dramatic, theatrical influence came from my favorite band of all time, Muse, as well as my theater background singing showtunes and classics for auditions. The hip hop was the newest and most unexpected inspiration on my record…the very first time I sat down and wrote a rap, I was so enchanted and exhilarated by it. Then I listened back to it, and it sucked. So to generally avoid that going forward, I made a years-long study of the genre’s greats, old and new, in order to learn the language and craft a flow uniquely my own. The end result of all this put together is what you hear on “War!”, and I personally believe that it does not suck.
What is it like going from the voice acting of Steven, to live acting in TV to recording and performing songs? Is there one you see as more of a favorite?
There will never be an overall favorite, but sometimes certain projects will pull my attention to one or the other. Right now it’s probably the music, because this is a really exciting time for it. A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak is the first project I’ve carried out to the finish independently, and original work like that will always bring out an inner joy that isn’t always there when you’re working on someone else’s vision. There are exceptions, though, and Steven Universe definitely qualifies…Rebecca Sugar is an awesome artist in every sense of the word, and collaborating with someone like her is a blessing in artistic fulfillment. Overall, I just feel very lucky to have the variety at this point in my career; I think I’d go crazy if I couldn’t shift gears so often.
This changes every week! I’m gonna with those stupid sugar cookies with the colored frosting that they sell pre-boxed at the grocery store. You know the ones that were at every kids birthday party for the last twenty years? They’re stupid because they taste so good until cookie number seven, then you become immobile and useless for hours…moving into a place five hundred feet from a grocery store is a terrible idea. I definitely don’t know any of this from experience.
Favorite comic book character?
Shazam, because I’m biased…I play Billy Batson for a lot of DC animated projects.
Describe “War” in three words to our audience.
Juanita! Juanita! Juanita!