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Don McLean Chats With Essentially Pop About The ‘American Pie’ 50th Anniversary Tour Next Year With Tickets On General Sale Today. He Talks About The Power Of Production, The Story Behind The Song, And Co-Writing With Drake!

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Don McLean is a legend in music, and it’s for so much more than the 8-minute tour de force which is ‘American Pie’, a song that literally changed the landscape of what was possible in a song and made it ok to make music that lasted longer than 3 minutes and okay to mix genres across the duration of a single song. The song is as popular today as it was when it was released 50 years ago.

The artist will be bringing his Anniversary Tour to the UK next year and tickets will go on general sale today. It will be a brilliant chance to see him sing the album live. The record contains so many brilliant songs that launched the career of an artist who, now at 75, is still very passionate about what makes a great song, what is required to perform at the highest level and being the best that he can be.

We were honoured to get the chance to chat with the living legend that is Don McLean and I hope you enjoy his candid responses to my questions. It was great to chat with someone so knowledgeable about music; my only regret is that I couldn’t chat longer.

EP: So, it’s 50 years since ‘American Pie’; it’s one of fewer than 500 songs in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry and it was named by the recording industry of America as a top five song of the 20th century. Has it been a blessing or a curse being so recognisable by one song despite all of the other brilliant work that you’ve done since then and all the outstanding songs that you’ve written?

DM: It’s interesting. This year, I am really advertising the ‘American Pie’ album and the 50th Anniversary of it and, you know, the album is really what we’re talking about. Of course, there’s the big song, ‘American Pie’, but there’s also ‘Winterwood’, ‘Crossroad’, ‘The Grave’, ‘By The Waters of Babylon’, ‘Vincent’ and ‘Empty Chairs’. So, there are songs on there that millions and millions of people know. So, it’s really the totality of the album and there are a lot of great albums that were made in 1971 and a lot of great artists, so it was a special year for music and me. But, it’s always been that way; ‘American Pie’ has always been the tallest tree in my forest. And, you know, I’m just glad I have a forest at all. I really don’t think of it that way. I have said to some people that ‘American Pie’ is really like having ten hit records. It’s not like having just one.

EP: Absolutely. I mean, I think, from my point of view, I’ve been a fan for years and it just amazes me, you know, you’ve got such a great catalogue of music and I kind of find it frustrating when people would say, oh, that’s the guy who sang that song ‘American Pie’… I just wondered if you felt the same given all the great music that followed it. You set the bar pretty high. The song itself is truly genre defying. For me, it’s the perfect marriage of folk, rock and roll, country and pop. Do you think Don that the success of that particular record is down to the structure or down to the enigmatic lyrics that everyone tries to work out?

DM: Well, it’s a very good example of the way my mind works. I’m really good at three kinds of music. Old-fashioned popular music, early rock’n’roll and folk music. I know a good deal about those three areas of music and ‘American Pie’ actually represents all three of those because it has an opening part that you would have on a popular song, it has a verse chorus like you have on a folk song and it has a rock and roll beat. So, that’s why, to some degree it’s unique that way and then the lyrics are always different in every song that I write. The lyrics of ‘Wonderful Baby’ are not the same as ‘Vincent’, the ‘Vincent’ lyrics are not the same as ‘Castles in the Air’; they’re all very different songs and they’re all very famous. That’s what I do, I do a different song every time….really different, totally different.

EP: I think that’s been the reason for me that you’re so successful Don and so widely loved. It’s the fact that it’s almost impossible to put your music into a box because there are so many examples, as you say, of very different lyrics and very different styles. Is it something that you strived to do, to defy genre?

DM: I set my standards extremely high when I started. I wanted to be a real vocalist like Marty Robbins, or Elvis, or Frank Sinatra. I vocalised, I worked on tone, I worked on vibrato, I wanted to sing melodies. I didn’t want to yell. I did not want to sing stuff that wasn’t melodic. I worked very hard on my singing, my guitar playing, I can even play the five string banjo. You can hear me do ‘By The Waters of Babylon’ in front of five or six thousand people at the Royal Albert Hall if you look it up on YouTube back in 1972; that’s the kind of thing I did. I worked on tone and polishing everything all the time. You know, that way, rather than yelling from the throat, it was a whole different approach. An old fashioned approach but with new lyrics. I was a throwback in a way with a modern sound. I did not want to sound like Bob Dylan, I did not want to sound like anybody else and I didn’t. It was startlingly different when you first heard me and then when you get into it, then I’ve got you…you’re mine!

EP: I’m so pleased that you mentioned, Marty Robbins. The first record that my father played me, when I was very, very young was Marty Robbins. I still listen to him today. With what you’re saying about that new approach to the older things and that kind of throwback with a new style, does it make you very happy about the diversity of the of the artists that have covered your songs?

DM: That is because of the diversity and nature of my music. I don’t know how Drake, one of the biggest musicians in the world right now, discovered two of my songs on the ‘Prime Time’ album. But he did, and on his second album he did a song called ‘Do It Wrong’ which uses the lyrics of two of my songs, one is called ‘The Wrong Thing to Do’ and the other is ‘When a Good Thing Goes Bad’. So I am a co-writer of the song ‘Do It Wrong’ with Drake and he sold four million copies of that, and that was the second album, the one that really launched him. So the other side is not always about having success for yourself but putting out valuable information to young people who can use it in their own way. What I had was ideas and there are not too many people that have new ideas where songs are concerned.

EP: That must make you incredibly proud that you’re influencing artists as modern as Drake because obviously, as a songwriter, that must be fantastic; to be still influencing music 50 years after ‘American Pie’. It must be a great feeling for you.

DM: Well, the funny thing is that all my life, people have said that’s the only song you’re known for. Some people don’t realise I’ve had all these other hits and they try to almost make me apologise for it and I say back to them, who else could ever have done what I did, could anybody else have written that song, do you know anybody, I don’t. You know what I’m saying? I know the work that I’ve done, I know what songs I’ve written, I know what’s out there on those albums and people sometimes get carried away with that one song because they love it so much and they’re fascinated with it. I don’t mind talking about that song because I know how they feel. You know, that’s the kind of song nobody could follow, but it’s in its own realm. It’s in another world. At that time, I had a management team behind me, a guy named Herb Gart, who worked out of a phone booth when I met him, you know the kind that return quarters. That’s my first manager. I’d stayed with that guy for 18 years. I should have left long before that because everything disintegrated, but I still kept having hits, so it’s kind of crazy but, you know, I didn’t do anything the right way, but it turned out okay?

It’s like the movie ‘The Producers’ with Zero Mostel. Well, I had the wrong actor, the wrong script. Where did I go right?

EP: I think that’s testament to the brilliance of your songwriting and singing to be honest Don. We have an expression in the UK that the cream will always rise to the top and I guess that’s what you could say about your music.  Having had a hit as ground breaking as ‘American Pie’, you know, it was never easy to follow, but you did that and it must be fantastic now to come over to the UK next year and tour and bring that music back to a whole new audience. I bet you can’t wait?

DM: Well, I’m happy to be alive. Happy to be singing well. I’ve been doing some shows. They sound good and I’m just going to take it, as they say, one day at a time and do the best that I can.

EP: I can’t wait. I mean, I’m gonna try and get tickets for the Palladium show because it’s such a beautiful venue. It seems like the perfect place to see you sing.

DM: Yeah, I played there before, I like it a lot.

EP: If I could ask one more question about ‘American Pie’, and I apologise but it’s something that I’m curious about. it’s widely believed that the song mourns one of my heroes who I know is one of your heroes, Buddy Holly, but is the song more personal than that, more biographical in its nature?

DM: I’m not going to give too much away but there’s going to be a movie made about the making of this song and you’ll really get to see how it all happened. It’s all connected to my life and my journey from the beginning, really up to say, the mid 70s and you’re going to know all about. It’s a little complicated but yes it is a biographical song in the sense that I am a witness in the song to what’s going on, rather than me being the central person. It’s about what I’m seeing, what I’m feeling, what I remember. It’s an interesting concept but it worked out well.

EP: Fantastic. I can’t wait to see that; that’ll be brilliant and maybe put to bed some of the theories that people have about the song.

DM: I had a good producer named Ed Kramer who made an excellent record and without that we wouldn’t be talking about the song at all. Without a good producer, you know? I mean, I don’t want to put anyone down here, okay, but if you think about Cat Stevens, he made some really cool records that I liked the sound of but if I analyse the lyrics, they were almost like bubble-gum lyrics but the way it was produced makes it heavier. There’s a lot of that with the Beach Boys too, the way the production is. With The Beatles too, if John Lennon came up with some simple lyrics or some stories and put some melody to it, by the time, George Martin had finished with it, it was earth shattering because of the production. I mean, The Beatles would not have been The Beatles without George Martin, there’s no two ways about that. I mean, he elevated everything and when you have someone like that it makes you more creative because you know that you’re going to be funnelled through this brilliant guy who will make it better than you ever dreamed it could be. That’s exciting if you find a man like that.

EP: When you get a great producer and an incredible talent, it’s the perfect marriage, isn’t it? You get the creativity and the perfect production. It gives us the music that you’ve given us over the last 50 years.

DM: Well, in the old days under the studio system, someone like Sinatra would walk in and he’d have the best orchestra, the best arrangements, the chamber echo of The Capitol Studios and the great engineers there, so in a sense he had all that help too. All he had to do was sing these songs magnificently as all the other stuff was done for him. The Beatles did everything but at least what they had was put together in a way that elevated it. Not taking anything away from The Beatles or Cat Stevens because we all did everything. I did everything; I did the arrangements; I did the song; I did the singing.

EP: Well you definitely did something very right because the music lives on. I can’t wait to see you next year. I believe the tickets go and sale on Friday. I bet you can’t wait to get in front of an audience again and thank you very, very much for your time. It’s been a pleasure talking to you and I wish you all the luck in the world with the tour.

DM: I can’t wait. Thank you very much.

Don McLean 50th Anniversary of American Pie Tour Tickets are on public sale from today 24 September via his official website



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Coldplay Reveal Their Endgame – Idolator

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Coldplay won’t keep making music forever, and if you believe what they told NME in a recent interview, that finale could be coming sooner rather than later:

“We’re going to make 12 albums. Because it’s a lot to pour everything into making them. I love it and it’s amazing, but it’s very intense too. I feel like because I know that challenge is finite, making this music doesn’t feel difficult, it feels like, ‘This is what we’re supposed to be doing’.”

Fear not Coldplay faithful! Those words don’t mean the band will be breaking up. Lead singer Chris Martin is referring specifically to studio albums, leaving the door open for more touring, collaborations, and producing.

In the same interview, Martin revealed that Coldplay has been trying and failing to write a Bond theme song for the past 20 years.





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Katelyn Tarver Chats About Last Single ‘Nicer’ And Announces New Single Release ‘Hurt Like That’ Out On October 21 Before Album ‘Subject to Change’ Drops In November.

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Katelyn Tarver has a new song out next week but I was lucky enough to get the chance to chat with her about her last release, ‘Nicer’, a song that reflects on the people pleasing tendencies that we all have sometimes and which has become almost an epidemic of non-confrontation leading us to bottle up all that angst. The first line of the song was inspired by her mum telling Katelyn off for honking at a car which had driven across her in traffic.

Katelyn says: “She was visiting me in LA and I guess didn’t think the guy who cut me off deserved a honk. “Gosh, Katelyn! You used to be nicer!”. It made me laugh, but it also weirdly stuck with me for years afterward. I think because it hit on a part of me that I was trying to get to know. The part of me that isn’t such a people pleaser who isn’t afraid to speak her mind a little more. To all the former rule followers and recovering people pleasers, may this song help us get out there and be a dick sometimes if we need to”

The brilliant video sums up this dichotomy in a very visual way with a split screen approach that works perfectly. Directed by Fiori it perfectly complements the new song that unfolds visually as it develops lyrically.

On the new album, Katelyn has aimed at capturing painful truth in a pop production that is the perfect foil for her soul baring lyricism and her radiant voice. The album will bring together strains of pop, folk, country and indie-rock to document a period of her life when things were constantly changing, constantly evolving.

She says:

“I think a lot of us go through that phase in life where you ask yourself, “is this it?” It can be so isolating and so hard to talk about, especially with social media and all the pressure to always have your shit together. Life is unpredictable. For all the stories of triumph and resilience, there are just as many stories of failure and getting lost. The addict relapses. The happy couple gets divorced. The ones you’ve put on a pedestal lets you down. Finding the love of your life doesn’t solve your problems. You know the expression; the only way out is through? These songs are making my way through. Giving myself permission to not have the answers. Letting myself feel all. The pain, the joy, the confusion, the bittersweet in-between…I learned that uncertainty can be an open door. And that change is a constant invitation I want to learn to accept.”

This is our chat; I hope it encourages you to check out this wonderful artist:

EP: I love the new song, ‘Nicer’, I think the video for the song is such a cool concept. Was it your idea, the concept, the dual screen idea?

KT: Well, I worked with this director, who is just up and coming. Her name is Fiori. And she actually came up with that concept and I loved it and we just quickly got to work.

I mean, we came up with the concept and then filmed it almost the next day. So it was a really quick turnaround. But yeah, we had a lot of fun. Just coming up with ways we could, you know, time the two sides to work together; one side being in reverse, one side being in forward, we’ve had fun with the symbolism of that in regards to how it fits with the song and how it kind of looks at your past self. Yeah, it was really it was a really fun video to get to do and I’m really excited for how it turned out.

EP:  It came out really. Well, I guess from any director’s point of view you’re acting background is a massive blessing as obviously not every singer brings that to the party.

KT: Yeah. I guess not.

EP: With the song, do you think you used to be nicer?

KT: I mean, honestly, a lot of a lot of the time, I feel like I’m still too nice but I didn’t think so.

Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it can be, I don’t know, attributed to probably just getting older in general. I think we all lose a little bit of our, what’s a way to put it, care less. We don’t think it’s a good thing. I think for me in particular it’s being raised in the South and kind of being raised in a certain context. It can almost feel like the takeaway is, you know, the biggest thing in life is to be polite and to be accommodating and to be agreeable. That doesn’t really mesh well with creating art a lot of the time and writing about your life and wanting to challenge ideas. I think that’s what made me start taking a look at that instinct within myself to people please and make sure everyone around me is comfortable instead of, you know, saying what I really feel in a moment or saying what I really think about something because there’s all that fear of what people think and wanting to fit in; all that stuff that that we do. I think I’ve just started to try and shed that stuff a little bit more, you know, to live a more, I guess, authentic life if that doesn’t sound too unbearable.

EP: Do you think that the moving away from being ‘nice’, for want of a better description, has made you more honest, more relatable as a singer? Because, I guess everyone has had situations in their life when they’re maybe not as nice as they should be, or times when they wish they could have been nicer. Something that comes through for me in the other songs that I’ve listened to, the recent stuff, is that the lyrics in them are really quite honest. Do you think that’s a by-product of not being so accommodating?

KT: I do. I do think that. Yeah. I think, you know, in my head being nice equates to, in the context of the song, just kind of caring too much about what other people think and I think by, not being as nice, or not caring as much has made me a little more willing to be, like you said, more honest, bolder in my lyrics. Just kind of admitting things that I think we all deal with and I think it can be scary to put stuff out there like that. I think I just got to this point in my life where it was like if I’m not gonna be honest and say stuff that I really think, what’s the point?

EP: With the album coming out, is that a theme for the album? Does it relate to an episode in your life that you feel you need to be more honest about?

KT: Yeah, for sure. I’ve been writing songs, acting and, kind of, in this industry for a while and you know can get to the point where you’re just sort of moving forward on autopilot and then I think having to slow down with the pandemic and not having any distractions and not having anything to busy my mind with, made me take a look at a lot of stuff that, you know, I was maybe putting off until a later date. And so, yeah, I think it is just about a time in my life, where I decided to try and face a lot of things and realise that this process will probably be ongoing throughout my whole life with uncertainty, questions and change and all of that that we all experience. I think I definitely went through my own kind of journey with that and I think that’s what a lot of these songs mean; I wrote most of them during the last year so I think that’s where a lot of these songs are coming from. It’s just sort of honest, a little bit scared, a little bit sad, but ultimately just kind of an acceptance of life and where I’m at and what my life is. Just kind of trying to, I don’t know, be present. I guess that is where a lot of these songs came from.

EP: It’s been it’s been a really recurrent theme, when I’ve chatted to artists recently, that the lockdown period has been a period where songwriters especially have become a little bit more introspective and have had that time to kind of look inside a little. It’s amazing how much more of the song writing feels very honest coming out of the other side of a pandemic. Hopefully. In that way, do you think that the lockdown has been a good process for you because it’s allowed you that time to maybe develop as a songwriter.

KT:  I mean, I guess I’d have to say, yeah, I think it’s easy as artists, especially with social media, to have that kind of hovering feeling of like, “am I?” You know, if you compare yourself to everyone else’s story. It’s like there’s this easy way to constantly look and be, oh, this person’s doing that, or that person’s doing this. Am I falling behind? Where am I on the timeline of my life and my career? And I’ve, you know, at least for me, always had this fear that I was lagging or falling behind, and I think it was always the goal to sort of snap out of that and realise that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the music. It’s about the song writing. It’s about, you know, the art you’re making and not necessarily the outcome of what that brings to you. I think that’s a really challenging perspective to have in general, but I think having everything screech to a halt as far as no one’s going on tour, no one’s progressing in the way that feels like you’re really falling behind, sort of levelled the playing field and, in a small way, felt like we were all kind of facing the same thing. I think it was a good reminder of, hey, what are you doing this for in the first place? Is it just to look cool on Instagram or is it to actually make something that feels like it moves people and inspires people and relates to and connects people. I don’t know. I’ve noticed too, with my songwriter artist friends, that it was a time that was like a really good hard exercise. Do you really want to put in the time and the effort it takes to make music? Even if it means not reaching these certain markers, it’s still worth it, you know? And I think that’s a good question to ask yourself, and I think the pandemic just kind of forced us to do that.

EP: I think because everyone became time-rich, but simultaneously cash-poor because of the amount of things they could do. It kind of forced a lot of song writers, as you say, to realise that it’s difficult, it’s tough. This has been a really difficult period and it’s the guys that’ve hung in there were the ones that I really think of as honest song writers. It’s been a good thing for the music consumer because the music that’s coming out now really does feel much more honest, more authentic.

KT: Yeah, and I agree

EP: I think, also, because a lot of people that, maybe, wouldn’t have normally gone through mental difficulties in their normal day-to-day life may have gone through much more challenging periods with the lockdown. It makes the music subject more relatable, doesn’t it because we’ve all been in that same sort of position. It’s always been tough for artists, suddenly it was tough for everyone.

KT: Yeah.

EP: Your music for me brings together quite a few genres. The music I’ve listened to has got all sorts of stuff in there but with the kind of honesty in the lyrics it feels that there’s a lot of country in there, country music. Do you think that’s partly to do with where you grew up? I saw that one of your collaborators is Justin Gamella, who has worked with Lennon Stella before. Do you feel country influence in your music or is that something that, coming from the South, you want to get away from?

KT: I don’t know. I mean, I think the older I get the more I sort of connect with where I’m from and how I grew up and the place I come from. In the South, country music is big there but I grew up loving pop and country but since I moved to LA I’ve been pursuing a career in pop music. I think, when I was younger, I was maybe a little more quick to try and shed the country label or whatever, but I think the older I get the more I kind of connect to that style of music, that style of writing, because it is more storytelling. It is more, you know, sit down with your guitar and make it just about that and I think with the album that was a big part of it for me. I wanted the production to reflect the lyric and I wanted it to support the song rather than the other way around. I think that’s something that is big in country music and that genre is about making sure the lyrics and everything really add up and tell the story in the right way. I think that was definitely something I wanted to challenge myself with when writing these songs; I want the song writing to be the focus and the lyrics and, yeah, the story I’m telling and so I think it’s probably just like ingrained in me in some way because I did grow up there and it can’t help but influence, you know, probably a lot of my instincts.

EP: I guess it’s almost part of your DNA if you come from that part of The States.

KT: Yeah, I guess so, like I, I hope so. I think, yeah, I just tried to embrace a lot of my instincts. I just tried to embrace rather than, you know, push away from them. I think with this album that’s probably where the honesty is coming. I’m not gonna try and be something I’m not, I’m not gonna try and fit into this box, into this thing or that. I’m just gonna follow where my inspiration and my instincts are taking me and I think that’s why, to me, this album feels and this music feels like my most honest song writing. I think it’s pretty special to have it be kind of my first album and in a way it almost feels like a restart for me. In a lot of ways, it almost feels like I’m putting music out for the first time sometimes; I feel like I really tapped into something that I’m excited about.

EP: The stuff that I have heard is fantastic and it helps that the lines between the genres have been blurred. Country music is moving more towards pop and pop is moving closer to Country music; those lines have been blurred a little.

KT: Yeah, I think so.

EP: So I think, you know, from that point of view it lends itself very much to what you’re doing at the moment. So what sort of artists inspired you? Has that changed? You know, going forward, you said you were very much a pop artist so who inspired you with your musical development.

KT: It’s tough. I mean, I feel like in the past, growing up, I would listen to a bunch of different stuff but I’ve always been a big fan of John Mayer and I think that was a big influence on me in deciding to kind of lean more into my singer-songwriter roots. I grew up in the era of N’Sync, Backstreet Boys and Britney; these huge pop stars. So, I naturally found that very alluring and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be on the stage with pyrotechnics and big choreography, but I think I have just kind of, like I said, embraced what I actually feel at the core of me. I sort of leaned into that singer songwriter world and I think I’ve pulled from that early influence of seeing an artist like John Mayer who was able to release album after album sort of just doing what he does. And so, that’s been a big inspiration to me. I mean lately, I’ve just been listening to a lot of singer songwriters like Sasha Sloan and Madi Diaz, Lennon Stella… I loved her album, JP Saxe, Julia Michaels, just this sort of singer-songwriter pop. Honest, introspective, emotional song writing. I’ve just been really drawn to it and I think that’s what inspired me the past few years and definitely a lot of what I’ve been gravitating towards in my own music.

EP: Well it sounds great, are there any plans to bring the music to the UK?

KT: Yeah, sure. I mean, I’m dying to get over there. I think especially now I’m like get me anywhere but I’ve spent some time in London and I really am dying to come back to the UK. So, let’s make it happen.

EP: That’d be great, I can’t wait for the album as well. Finally, one question which is completely off piste.  I’ve been watching the HBO TV show ‘Ballers’, I know I’m very late to the party with that but I’ve realised you’re in Season 4 of that hit show with The Rock and co.

It must have been a lot of fun working on that show. I’m only on Season 2 but I’m loving it!

KT: It was really fun. Yeah, it was such a cool experience. I’d, you know, done kind of more kid teen focus shows and then I got that part. So it was really fun to get to do something which was a little more of an adult show and a comedy; my character had a lot of insane, fun outfits, and just getting to work with that calibre of actors. I worked with The Rock, which was crazy, and Rob Corddry and then someone from the UK, Russell Brand, he’s also in season four and so I got to spend a little time with him. He is amazing. I mean, it was just so much fun. He would come into the scene every time with a different improvised line and it would just make me laugh every time and I was, like, this is such a fun set to be on, so, yeah, I felt really lucky to be a part of it. But yeah, get ready for my outfits. That’s all I’m saying.

EP: I’m loving the show; I expected it to be funny but I never expected it to be quite so moving.

KT: Yeah. I know, I agree. I know. I liked it too.

EP So the Rock didn’t inspire you all by singing ‘You’re Welcome’ on set?

KT: (laughing) I know, I know, I mean, he should have. It was definitely a little nerve-racking but I think the more I was on, like week after week, we all became a little more comfortable with each other. You know, The Rock is very nice, but he’s definitely a big presence (laughing)

EP: Well, Katelyn, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you. I wish you lots of luck with the music. I’ve loved everything I’ve listened to and I can’t wait for the album or Season 4 of ‘Ballers’ (laughing). I can’t wait to see you in the UK.

KT: And thanks, I can’t wait to be there!

Pre-order ‘Subject To Change’ here, and find out more about Katelyn Tarver online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Apple Music, and her website.





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mags Releases Her Wonderful EP ‘Happimess’ Today And We Get To Talk With Her About It. – Essentially Pop

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There is alchemy afoot at the moment in Denmark. Pure pop gold seems to be streaming out of the place and the latest brilliant EP to come out today is ‘Happimess’ from an artist called mags. This five track release simply doesn’t have a moment of weakness. Every song could easily be a single and it’s clear that mags is an artist that doesn’t believe in half measure. The lyrics are brim full of a sincere, honest and relevant take on modern life and the superb pop production provides the best broad stroke background to the detail and beautiful colour that mags lyrical mastery adds in fine detail.

The five songs on the EP span stories about the power and intoxication of love and the feelings of not being able to let go of a broken relationship through to holding on to love even when it creates enemies. Margarethe Tang, artistically known as mags, is fired by the big emotions, by the tidal wave of feelings that you can either ride or be overwhelmed by. The fact that she is able to articulate this tempest and still create pure pop will really resonate with fans everywhere. Frankly, I can’t wait to see her play live in the U.K. but until then I’ll have to make do with being able to pose some questions and recommend you add this brilliant collection to your playlist today.

EP: ‘happimess’ is a great title for an EP about that mix of emotions where big dreams for love and life clash with the doubts and insecurities that we all have. Did you come up with the title and how do you think it sums up the five songs on the release?

mags: Thank you! Yes, I did come up with it. I actually think it was a typo whilst trying to write “happiness” in a text to a friend and that in itself is actually a great metaphor for the word “happiness” and the entire EP. Life moves fast and sometimes I make mistakes, things get messy and with this EP I wanted to touch upon some of the feelings and situations where I have felt awkward, embarrassed or extra emotional in both ends of the spectrum. It’s a word that doesn’t take itself to serious, makes sense but is a little flawed. That’s exactly how I feel as a mid-twenties woman trying to figure it all out.

EP: One of the things I’ve noticed has been an outcome of the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions is that mental health issues and emotional problems have become more normalised in that we are all aware of how prevalent they are in the wider society. Are these five songs a salve, do you think, for a love life at the moment?

mags: I agree! I have made the same mental health observation. And yes, I hope so. If not for love life then at least a salve to some of the big feelings that we all experience.

EP: For me, this is such a strong release. There’s really not a weak song on it. On an initial listen, I was struck by how well constructed the songs are, they are brilliant pop, and I guess that’s a lot to do with excellent production. But, as I listened more and more, I was struck by the honesty and insight of the lyrics, and that’s down to you. The songs span a whole range of life and love. You must feel very proud of your song writing?

mags : Firstly, thank you so much. I’m incredibly proud of this EP. I feel like every song has its own important place and that the productions not only support but lift the storytelling in the song writing. Birk Nevel has produced most of the record and he is just incredible. I am very proud of where I’m at with my song writing and I’m proud of making sure that I’m still and always at the core of the writing process. Putting words to my feelings is something I have been doing for more than 10 years now. I am very confident in the process and also… it serves as a vital surviving mechanism in my emotional life, ha ha.

EP: The EP ends with ‘happimess’, the title track, which feels hugely biographical but could be an empowering anthem for so many young people. Is that how you planned it to feel?

mags :That is exactly how I planned for it to feel. I felt like pointing the narrative inwards more so than ever on that song. Really wanted to open up about where I’m from in the verses and where I’m at in the chorus. Being fully transparent as an invitation for the listener to do the same. If not with people around them, then with themselves.

EP: Whilst all of your songs are melodically upbeat, the issues you deal with in them aren’t always quite so positive, for want of a better word. Was the dichotomy intentional or did you intend for the songs to be multi-layered; appealing on lots of levels. For instance, the intensity, depth and beauty of the words of ‘as long as we’re both breathing’ seems at odds to the pure pop production. As I’ve said before, I love this, after all ABBA perfected heart-breaking honesty with catchy production and they did ok.

mags: It’s something I’ve always leaned towards. The dichotomy of the lyrics/subject of the song and the soundscape. As I tend to write most of my songs acoustically first I get to set the theme there lyrically and melodically and then in the production I set the tone. I love that way of doing it because when I’m writing my lyrics I don’t want any limits to my honesty. I want to create a space of complete openness and I feel like I can do that comfortably knowing that I can make it sound so different in the production if I feel like it. I love a good sad banger. It’s a way of coping with and turning heavy feelings into something more positive and danceable – at least for the 3 minutes the song lasts, ha ha.

EP: Who are your main inspirations for your music? You’ve come a long way from Ry, your Jutland hometown; as it helped to broaden your horizons?

mags: Mainly people I love or the people they love. It usually comes down to that. Relations between humans are ever fascinating to me. I also find inspiration in other art expressions; movies, theatre, dance, contemporary art etc. I am like everyone a product of my upbringing so being from Ry has defiantly shaped me. Being somewhere that felt so big and small at the same time was challenging but amazing at the same time.

EP: Finally, are there any plans to bring your music to the UK? I’d love to see you sing these songs live and they really feel like they would resonate with a UK audience.

mags: Gosh, I’d love to! I love the UK. There are no concrete plans yet! But, there’s nothing I want more than to get out and play for as many people in as many countries as possible. It’s a matter for time before I will get to perform in the UK.

‘Happimess’ is out now and can be streamed on Spotify. You can catch up with mags online on Instagram. Get tickets for mags’ upcoming concerts here.





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