The artist reveals his new single “pillowTHOUGHTS” and talks us through his upcoming winter tour.
Bank Holiday weekend is upon us, which means, festivals galore, music 24/7 and an extra day of pure relaxation. And getting us in the party mood with his new thumping single is Denis Coleman with “pillowTHOUGHTS”. Smoothly oscillating between pop-punk and electronica, the artist displays his confidence on the energetic track and puts his eccentric energy at the forefront. Continuing to impress us with heady guitars and a heart-pounding bassline, the artist details the story of a lost relationship as he becomes torn between leaving the past behind and dwelling on what could have been.
“I wanted to capture the self-sabotage of this romanticising in all its beautiful ugliness, the way it preys on anxieties and discolors happiness,” the artist revealed. “I tried to convey how all-encompassing these thoughts could be, making each line of the chorus bleed into the next like thoughts cascading through the mind as the lyrics becoming increasingly extreme and panicked. But I also needed to illustrate the pleasure and solace found in the pain, and few genres have captured that dichotomy more poignantly than punk rock. As a result, I drew heavily on a variety of punk influences and knew when I was producing the track with my co-producer Elyar, a collaborative process that lasted several months.”
Due to be a part of his pending EP set for release in November, the artist is due to tease more music in the coming months, as he kicks off his UK tor this Winter. As he continues to tease us, we caught up with the rising star talking all things music and what we can expect from his upcoming shows.
Check out the interview below now…
Hey Denis, how has this past year been for you?
Hey, thanks for having me! This past year has been both a challenge and a blessing. On the one hand, it was an immense disruption. Adjusting, as an artist, to zoom sessions and a complete inability to tour was tough. Adjusting, as a person, to the new plane of virtual existence, online interactions and the inevitable fading of some tenuous pre-pandemic relationships was often difficult to navigate and reconcile. The constant global suffering and tragedy that came as a result of Covid started to seep subtly into every moment of the day. However, I was grateful for the time I was able to spend with my family. In the two and a half years leading up to the first lockdown, I had spent only a handful of weeks at home, fitting in a couple days every few weeks between tours, writing sessions and mental health awareness talks. I probably spent more quality time with my family this past year than during the previous three combined.
With everything that happened last year, has your creativity been affected?
Without a doubt. My music is always a reflection of myself, and the long hours of isolation presented by the various lockdowns really gave me an opportunity to know myself better than I did before. Naturally, the subject matter of my music shifted as well. For example, all the songs on my upcoming EP are connected by the theme of escapism, a concept which over lockdown has been defining more and more of our realities. When the lockdowns started, I assumed at first that the lack of kinetic activity would restrict my ability to write – I kept thinking “nothing is happening!” But what began as an almost nihilistic resignation quickly became a springboard for ideas once I started to explore the nuanced emotional dynamics of that new existence.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
I first got into music through the violin. My parents suggested I take lessons (I was 6 years old at the time) and as soon as I started I immediately connected with music. It was only after I discovered that I could play music I wrote myself, however, that I was truly hooked.
You were born in New Jersey but now live in London, do you think this change impacted your sound in anyway, and do you think growing up in these areas influenced it?
I came to London when I was six years old. Even though I’ve spent the majority of my life in the UK and firmly consider myself a Londoner, always being the “American” kid in my friend group growing up encouraged to embrace that side of my identity as well. Subconsciously, I think the move also taught me about the importance of change. Something which at that age had seemed definite and unchangeable – my home where I lived – was turned completely upside down, and out of that turmoil came something better.
Congrats on your new single “pillowTHOUGHTS”, take us through the production process?
Thank you so much! It was a long one. I wrote pillow thoughts on zoom the first day of February 2021. The demo version sounded completely different: it was a pensive, laid-back, pop-trap record with a saxophone solo in the bridge. I knew the song had potential, but did not immediately know the best way to bring it to life. So I began a months long collaborative production process with my co-producer Elyar, hopping on zooms, tweaking drum samples and sending stems back and forth over email. Sometimes there would be a burst of frenetic activity on the track and then we would put it to the side to simmer for a week or two. Eventually, the song began to take shape and ultimately became the pillowTHOUGHTS you hear today.
It’s such an introspective track, what was it like tapping into these emotions?
It was almost effortless. Perhaps a bit too effortless actually – it’s not a very happy song. Once I identified the title – pillowTHOUGHTS – the rest began to spring up around it. The lockdowns of the past few months had given me plenty of opportunities to overthink my life while laying on my pillow at 1 or 2 or 3 or whatever time it was in the morning, when any doubts or stresses or emotions I experienced were suddenly magnified. All I had to was translate those pillow thoughts into words on a google doc. Even the double-meaning lyrical structure of the chorus came quite naturally as a way to express the thoughts cascading through the mind, overlapping and combining in an attempt overwhelm.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I hope my music will get people talking about the nature of their relationships with others and with themselves and I hope it will encourage others to question how they define their reality. At the very least, I hope it can provide a few minutes of escapism.
Who are your inspirations?
Conan Gray, The Weeknd, Renforshort.
How would you describe your growth as an artist from starting at 15?
Learning that to move forward I need to look within because in pop music there is very little distinction between the artist and the art.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
There is a lot coming…! I’m already working towards finalising the next single and building to an EP release later this year. I’m also starting to conceptualise my upcoming in-person live shows – touring with HRVY in October and the 202 and Here At Last in November. And of course, constantly questioning and refining my sound. I’m excited to dive deep musically into the issues that inspire and haunt me and I’m very excited to experience the euphoric adrenaline rush of live performance again. But most of all, I want to be able to stand in a room and talk to my fans, the people that have kept me going creatively through all of the past year’s adversities, who have supported me despite fighting so many battles of their own and who have not only been generous and loving towards me, but towards each other, helping and being there for anyone in the fandom who was in need.