INTERVIEW: Dean Lewis
Dean Lewis is a name you can’t really escape at the moment and that’s a really exciting thing. The Sydney singer-songwriter has had massive success with his breakthrough single “Waves” which recently featured on episodes of Suits and Riverdale and has allowed him to tour Australia and America over the past year. His EP “Same Kind Of Different” delivered five other emotional vulnerable and organic songs that introduced you to who he really is as a musician. Dean is currently in America working on his debut album and is returning home to Australia later this month for a massive headlining tour as well as to attend the 2017 Aria Awards. I recently had to a chat to Dean about his four Aria Award nominations, embracing vulnerabilities, tropical beat drops and his incredible Triple J Like A Version performance. Check out the chat below;
TB: First of all, a massive congratulations on receiving four Aria Award Nominations which is an incredible feat for your first EP. Now that you’ve had some time to let it all sink it in, how are you feeling about it all?
DL: Oh man it’s crazy! It’s one of those things where a year ago I had no idea that this was going to happen. I put “Waves” out and it was meant to be a introduction track and then it just kept building and building and now it’s just getting started over here in America and now the Aria nominations have come in and it’s just crazy. I keep getting reminded by my team, management and label that this isn’t normal because otherwise you keep doing your thing and its nice because they are putting it into perspective and making me really appreciate it. So yeah I’ve been blown away by it all.
TB: You’re up for some pretty big awards like; Breakthrough Artist, Best Pop Release, Best Video and Song of the Year so if you were to sneakily win one of them what one have you got your fingers and toes crossed the most for?
DL: Oooohhh. I reckon it would have to be Breakthrough Artist or Song Of The Year. Actually, I will say Song Of The Year because that’s the one that is voted by the people and that’s really cool and I feel like everyone wants to win that one *laughs*. And I’m not trying to sound super super humble or anything but just receiving those nominations is truly enough like its insane and being there is just gonna be really really great.
TB: “Waves” received coveted airplay in episodes of “Riverdale” and “Suits” which saw a lot of people discovering your music for the first time. Had you ever watched any of those shows before prior to the song featuring?
DL: I used to watch Suits but then I missed an episode in Season 3 and forgot what episode it was and I just got lost *laughs*. And then with Riverdale we got told it was going to be on the show before the series aired so as soon as it came out I started watching it because I was like “this could be interesting” but we had no idea what sort of impact that show would have. Like when they pitched it to us they only told us a little bit about it and we were like “of course that would be great” but you never really know if a show is going to be successful or connect with people. So it was incredible to watch the show blow up. And we were really lucky because both scenes on Suits and Riverdale that the song featured in were very big moments in the show so the song kind of becomes apart of the show for the fans. So we had a massive surge of people from the shows going “wow” about the song which was great.
TB: Your debut EP “Same Kind Of Different” is a very vulnerable and honest collection of tracks. Reflecting on the EP now as its been out for 6 months what would you say is the most vulnerable moment or lyric on the collection?
DL: That’s a tough one! The most vulnerable lyric probably would be from the song “Chemicals” where it goes “And you said hold me I’m falling apart”. I have this little trick because sometimes it’s hard to say things about how you’re feeling so I will put it in the words of my ex girlfriend or someone at the time with words like “You said” to act like it’s from their perspective. And through that you can kinda say something you’re feeling and get away with it. But yeah that song is probably the most special and the most vulnerable to me on the EP.
TB: Being your debut EP did you have any censorship on how vulnerable you wanted to be with your listeners or did you decide to just immerse yourself?
DL: To be honest I never really thought about it. I sort of just wrote the songs and focused on being honest and writing songs that I genuinely liked. And then at the end of it I had some songs I wanted to keep for the album and then the others I thought fitted perfectly together for the EP so that was my process on deciding the songs. Most of them are about love and loss but I feel like that’s a part of the musical journey.
TB: You’re currently in America working on your debut album, how is that all going? How much of it is actually done?
DL: Yeah man, I would say it’s probably between 50-70 % done at the moment. There’s still a lot of mixing that needs to be done. It’s one of these things that because of the success of “Waves” and with it just getting launched in America everything else has been pushed back which is a blessing and a curse. Like half of me wants to enjoy the process and take the time and the other half of me is like I just want it out already. But this extra time has been amazing. I never wanted to be in a position where I had a deadline so I’m now just finalising what songs are actually going to be on the record and refining them.
TB: What is currently inspiring you lyrically and sonically for this record?
DL: There’s one thing that I really love at the moment. Everyone seems to be doing these musical drops in their songs which has almost replaced the chorus. I’m not a massive fan of it in my music but I love it in other peoples music. So for a few songs what I’ve been experimenting with is creating a musical beat drop organically with acoustic instruments and vocals to almost get a drop. I don’t want to do that electronic thing as it’s not me so the sound is very much the EP but expanded upon. I love acoustic instruments but I also want things to sound bigger so i’m just trying to follow that path.
TB: So we won’t expect a tropical beat drop then on the album? *Laughs*
DL: *Laughs* No, no. No topical house pop on this record *laughs*
TB: You’re about to come home to Australia to kick off a massive headlining tour. What can your fans expect from these intimate live shows?
DL: The first tour I did was just an east coast run of dates and was just me on the piano pretty much. So for this one I’m bringing my friend Dan and a drummer along because a lot of the songs I’m working on we are trying to create that bigger sound so I want to bring that to life onstage for the first time. I’ve never played “Waves” or “Lose My Mind” with a band before and that’s how they were written in mind to have that so it is going to be a bit of a bigger sound. But there will be a mix of me being on the piano and then me bringing the band out so that will be really cool.
TB: Are you going to be playing many of the new unreleased tracks?
DL: Yeah, I’m going to be playing about 5 or 6 new songs so it’s going to be really cool to hear the feedback from the crowd because I love speaking to the crowd after the show and hearing what songs they did like and what songs they didn’t like and kind of create a tally.
TB: You recently did Like A Version and covered Vera Blue’s magical “Mended”. What drew you to that song in particular?
DL: I really wanted to do an Australian artists song because there is so much good music coming out of Australia at the moment. I’ve also found that being overseas at the moment that there is quite a focus on Australian music in Canada and America which is really cool. But I’m a big fan of Vera Blue and I really liked the song and thought I could do it quite well. So I was just playing around in a rehearsal studio and was working on the “It’s been a little while since we have ended” part and even though the vocal range is pushing it for me I thought it was quite interesting. So it was a no brainer to me to choose that song.
TB: So, let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions;
TB: My ultimate festival line up would be…
DL: Catfish & The Bottlemen, RHODES, Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds and also Liam Gallagher because Im loving his record at the moment.
TB: Most mornings I…
DL: Get up and write down a list of the things I have to do and what I’m thinking about
TB: My guilty pleasure song is…
DL: Right now, it would be “Gorgeous” by Taylor Swift
TB: If I was a rapper my rap name would be…
DL: I’m just gonna say Post Lewis because I’m obsessed with Post Malone *laughs*
TB: Most people think I….
DL: Most people overseas think I’m english but I’m actually Australian *laughs*. But that’s probably because I’m obsessed with English musicians and have picked up some of their pronunciations.
You can catch Dean Lewis this November and December on his massive “Lose My Mind” tour. Check out the dates below;
Wednesday 15 November – Mojos, Fremantle
Thursday 16 November – Badlands, Perth
Friday 17 November – Uni Bar, Adelaide
Wednesday 22 November – Workers Club, Geelong
Thursday 23 November – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Friday 24 November – Corner Hotel, Melbourne *SOLD OUT*
Saturday 25 November – Spilt Mil Festival, Canberra *SOLD OUT*
Thursday 30 November – 48 Watt Street, Newcastle
Friday 1 December – UOW Uni Bar, Wollongong
Saturday 2 December – Vanfest, Sydney
Friday 8 December – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday 9 December – The Zoo, Brisbane
Sunday 10 December – The Northern, Byron Bay