Today, November 19, is the day TALK is shown to the world in his most pure, rock and roll form. The multi-talented and terribly humble rising star’s debut EP is out now and we have the track-by-track breakdown of how it came to be… if TALK himself can remember. (He lives quite the full life – and a little bit in the public eye with some million likes on TikTok and well over 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify with just three songs prior to today. NBD.)
When asked their favorite albums, few people name EPs. Full-length studio albums, as well as the occasional live album, take the cake when it comes to truly beloved pieces of music for people both in and out of the music industry. The notion that LPs weigh heavier than EPs in terms of respect and appreciation is practically prehistoric in this day and age. Extended plays are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact that a) streaming services seem to cater more toward individual track releases more so than long form records, b) fan culture loves finding hidden gems on EPs that occasionally get lost in stacked discographies, and c) with their shorter tracklists, they are often quicker to make…. Unless you’re TALK.
With this brand new, years-in-the-making debut EP, TALK breaks the rules, shatters industry expectations, and blows past artistic conformity in an effort to be genuine, original, and his own rockstar in every vulnerable, off-the-wall, and timeless sense of the word.
Out today, Talk to Me demonstrates how becoming said rockstar means believing you are said rockstar. Certainly talent, passion, and skill play a role in this, but internal determination and a story to tell are truly the key. For this Canadian-born multi-instrumentalist, he knew that when the timing was right, the world would get to know him musically and personally. It’s all about the combination of the two that is putting this rising star on the map. TALK is able to connect to each and every fan through his lyrics because they can all see themselves in the tales he tells of love and loss and hopes and dreams. He is poppy, punky, but not pop punk. He is classic and rocking, but not classic rock. He’s him. It’s exhilarating, really, and the energy he exudes as both an artist and a human is palpable to say the very, very least.
The singer-songwriter admits to The Aquarian that he’s not the be-all end-all of indie musicians, but that is the beauty in what he doing. TALK is not trying to be the quintessential rockstar, he simply is the ultimate version of himself as an artist, which is unparalleled as seen on Talk to Me.
“My process is very personal. I produce a lot of the stuff I write and record a lot of the stuff myself. Once the song leaves my computer, it’s pretty much done. Someone might come in and tighten up some loose ends or something, but it’s pretty much done right there with me. I think that’s what keeps it so personal and not too perfect. I’m not a genius at engineering or anything like that – I’m very mediocre at a lot of things, but when you bring it all together, it’s pretty good. so I feel like that’s what people see in me: that this is real and not manufactured. It’s not like this big pop thing. This is me in my bedroom making songs that I love that. […] I listen to myself far more than I listen to anyone else and that’s just because you have got to be your own number one fan – and I always have been!”
How this adventure started for TALK was organic. All the distinctive performer wanted was something to fill the musical void in not just his heart and soul, but in the industry all together. “I started making music because there was nothing out in the world that I wanted to hear and I think what I wanted to hear was like the seventies… but right now.” Once he says this, the light bulb goes off – we knew there was some sort of nostalgia on this record, but coming from someone in their mid-twenties? “There is this Elton John thing on [Talk to Me] with a little Foo Fighters,” TALK explains. “And maybe a but of Crosby, Still, Nash, & Young… there is a bit of a Laurel Canyon kind of thing going on.”
A self-described “open book,” TALK is all too casual about his mastery. When told his overarching musicality has an edge to it that is reminiscent of both the Black Crowes and Keith Urban, he takes the comparison warmly – as if it’s not an impressive feat so early on in his career. “Keith… that’s an interesting one. I haven’t heard that yet, but I do like Keith Urban. I think he’s great. He seems like such a sweetheart,” he notes before tumbling into a note about the Black Crowes. “I’ve gotten the Black Crowes a couple of times already. The Black Crowes are cool with some cool guitars.”
TALK, with his signature style and bouncy personality, converses over Zoom with AQ as if his publicist and manager aren’t on the line. It feels very nonchalant, comfortable, and friendly – almost FaceTime-esque. He ponders out loud and sparks conversation about everything and anything, including cinematic Garden State coffee shops, his mind-blowingly fast social media ascent, and even more details about his wide range of influences, as well as the impact they have had on him (something he is clearly grateful for). “I don’t wanna miss anyone ’cause I’m such a big fan of so many people!”
“I like eighties stuff. I don’t know if you can hear it sonically, and maybe it’s just because they are my own inspirations, but Def Leppard and Triumph and great rock bands like that might be there. I grew up on a lot of Blink-182, Green Day, and Sum 41, too, but I think Elton… and Queen are what are the most found in my sound. A lot of Queen, especially with the harmonies and how Freddie would do his. That is how I approach things, because of him. Every chorus of mine essentially is like my voice layered like he would do. It’s like a hundred tracks in my voice – not actually that many, but a lot of tracks – and that’s what I took from Queen to make mine.”
Similar to the “Don’t Stop Me Now” performer and global icon, TALK knows how to incorporate everything that means something to him, whether it is emotionally or artistically. Freddie Mercury set goals for himself, but also gave himself freedom to break the mold of how genres worked and theatrics were interpreted in the mainstream. Unique without being too shocking or brash, TALK can convey emotion, tell a story, relate to people, and shape narratives all on his own… much like a famous Mercury we know.
In our conversation we discover that TALK finds this debut EP of his a great start to his career and all he knows he can become – a “good start” of what he wants to explore musically. Intricate at times, fuzzy in others, bold for a moment, intimate the next, we believe there is a lot to keep peeling back and uncovering with the musician, who in just six songs has explored so much.
“There’s a big variety of what I can and want to do on this. On ‘Run Away to Mars’ you can feel the the rockier stuff of what I can do, but it’s with ‘How Long,’ ‘Hollywood,’ and ‘Talk to Me’ that are actually a little heavier. When I’m writing something, it’s like, ‘Can I hear people singing back to me? Can I hear people chanting this stuff?’ That’s what there’s, there’s a lot of like [singing] ‘na na nas’ and a lot of very drawn out words and long courses. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but I think I always imagine my songs in an arena setting. There’s still heartfelt stuff, though. I’m a softie, you know? I’m a very emotional dude, so there are emotional songs on here, like ‘Mars’ a little bit and ‘Save Me.’ I don’t shy away from the badass, as I like to describe it. I often describe ‘Hollywood’ as if you’re kissing a pretty girl and punching through drywall at the same time, which is kind of like the best way I’ve been able to put it into words. Even if you just look at the artwork, it’s four quadrants of me and they’re split off into different things. Essentially the idea for me was that each square represents a part of my personality. There’s the soft side – the ‘I wanna run away side’ with ‘How Long’ and ‘Save Me,’ like I’m a broken boy and I need help. It’s the vulnerable side. Then there is ‘Hollywood,’ which is me wanting to be a superstar and me wanting to see my name up in lights and all that kind of stuff. I think this EP encompasses all of me from when I was writing it. It was mostly last year and the year before when I was writing it, so it encompasses everything I was going through… and I think it came out better than I could have hoped.”
Track One –– “Run Away to Mars”
“I love this song. I’ve always loved this song ever since I wrote it at maybe three in the morning in my bedroom. It just like came to me – the idea of running away. I thought, ‘That sounds kind of cool! What’s the farthest place I could run to, theoretically, if I was Elon Musk’s son and had like a robot name (like his kid does)?’ The farthest place I could go was Mars and Mars is just on everyone’s mind with it being in the news.
I wrote this song in my bedroom and I still have the original voice note from when I was sitting on my bed playing it. The whole song essentially came out at once. There were only a few lyrical adjustments that I made with a friend of mine, but the song just like flew out of me in like two minutes… the whole thing, all the melodies, the chorus, the bridge, everything was there in that one voice note. That’s when I just pressed record and sang it. It was like I had got struck by lightning.
It was fast and what you hear now is essentially the first demo that I recorded of it. Yeah, I ended up going back to a studio and recording the vocals properly, but everything is the same. The harmonies are the same, the arrangement, what instruments are being used. Truly, the original demo version is literally the same thing as the song – just not as good quality. It was a perfect storm of me falling in love with the song as soon as it came to me, recording it, and not doing too much to it. Actually, I did do two or three versions after the first one of like drums and guitars and bass and all this stuff, but it never hit the same. We just stuck with that version and then it sort of took on a life of its own on TikTok.”
Track Two –– “Train”
“‘Train’ was done middle of the pandemic. I had just moved by back to Toronto – I am from Ottawa originally, which is four hours north – and I was with my roommate. I just woke up playing a bass line. I woke up playing it. Now, I play every kind of every instrument, but like very mediocre. I play guitar, piano, bass, drums, everything. I just had a bass in my hands when I woke up and it just sounded like a song to me. I’d been partying a little bit too much at that point and was stuck in my house. I was like, ‘I’m gonna have a good time while I’m stuck here!’ That was why I associated this idea with a train – falling off the wagon, falling off the train. That was the association here. It was about how no matter what you do, if your buddy texts you, ‘Hey, we’re going out,’ sometimes it’s hard to be like, ‘No, not tonight.’ That was the whole thing because the train’s always coming. The train is always trying to pick you up, especially when you’re the fun one and people know that you want to have a good time.
I recorded that whole song essentially how you hear it now. The production has not changed since the day I wrote it and I have not opened that session again. I woke up with the bass, I recorded the song with all the vocals right after, I’ve never touched it again, and just sent it to mix. It was a fast song like that. I remember my roommate who I do all my content with had left for a walk with his girlfriend. By the time he came back, all he was hearing was the ‘Choo, Choo, Choo!’ Literally on one of the takes you can hear him closing the door because we lived in a little apartment and he was going out. When he came back, the song was essentially done and I’ve never opened that session since that day. It was just off and mixed and sent for release. I’ve never touched it and I really love it, too.
I think it’s the one that people find later. I have a strong sense that ‘Train’ is one of those tracks that rips really, really hard, but you really have to like give it a second, so down the road, when people hear the EP a few times, some fans will come back to this and be like, ‘Oh, this is actually sick!'”
Track Three –– “Hollywood”
“Hollywood is the fastest song I’ve ever written for sure. I was in LA […] like two years ago almost to the day, and I’ve told this story before, but I was sitting in a studio that overlooked the city and my mom called me. I have a very good relationship with my parents. They’re the most incredible people. I love them so much. So my mom calls and she said like, ‘I miss you. We haven’t seen you. Come home.’ I just said, ‘Mama, if you need me, I’ll be in Hollywood.” I hung up the phone and I’m like, ‘Whoa. This is so good.’ I picked up a guitar. I hit the first three chords I could think of. Then the song was there. I ran upstairs immediately because there was another session going on in the studio. Five minutes later I came back down and I’m like, ‘I gotta record this! I gotta record this! I gotta record this!’ The other session left and I’d already written the whole song. What you hear now is exactly what was recorded… plus some upgrades just to the production. The whole process was maybe an hour and the song was done and yet it was the first one to indicate what type of music I was going to really be making. This song influenced everything else. From there on out it was like ‘Oh, make this more like Hollywood.’ That’s kind of like the idea of all of this, plus it’s dedicated to my beautiful mother, Cindy. I made that very important. She always asked for a song about her and requested that forever, so now my other family members are asking for songs. It started a whole wave of it. Everyone’s very jealous, but I’m getting to them. I think that this song, ‘Hollywood,’ just hits every note for me. It sounds like Guns ‘N Roses. It sounds like Queen. It sounds like Coldplay – I love Coldplay. It sounds like it’s got some raunchiness in the second verse with kind of ‘wink, wink’ lyrics. […] To me, it is a very much almost perfect song. It’s really hard to think that one of my songs is perfect, but there’s nothing else I could do to this song to make it better. I really love it.
Now here’s the thing about the music video: there was a bigger music video planned. I actually came back from working on that and went, ‘I want this to be me in a video. Right now it’s anti-me.’ I wanted to make the video about me and my buddies having a good time in Hollywood, because we had gone there to film and got back to see that the footage was amazing, but the inspiration wasn’t there to make it worthy of a high budget thing. It was more like ‘Let’s make this a scene of just me and my friends having a good time.’
My dad’s is cinematographer and he is a cameraman, so my whole childhood’s on tape – literally every breath is on some tape somewhere. I went back home to my parents’ place and went through all these tapes and cut out all this footage. I sent it to an editor and when we were together, spliced it into the Hollywood scenes. It is clips of me and my mom and stuff like that – this is her song. I love how this video is today and I think it was the right call. I think it was perfect for the song, too, and what it’s about. It’s about starting somewhere you love and ending somewhere that you want to be. I love the whole thing.”
Track Four –– “How Long”
“I don’t know if I was partying a lot or what was going on with this, but it was the same weekend as ‘Talk to Me.’ It came together in another bedroom, probably some point in COVID. I was just locked in a room. I remember recording it and working on it in New Jersey in the same place I did ‘Save Me,’ although two years later. I had gone back in with the same guys and it might have been about the same girl as that song, too, but I don’t remember exactly. There were so many songs in that first two months of the pandemic that they all kind of melded into one! A lot of the songs from this project are from that time, which is why a lot of it was about dreaming; dreaming of running away, dreaming of going to Mars, dreaming of being in Hollywood, dreaming of being with a friend or a girl that is so far away.
I do remember feeling that I needed this rock song. I thought, ‘What’s missing from my repertoire right now?’ and I love rock so much. I want to be a rock type artist. I was missing that one song, that rock song, the heavy one for this release, and as soon as I figured it out with all the big harmonies and all that stuff, I was like, ‘Ok, this is the one. This is really cool.’ I brought it to Ken and Brent in New Jersey and they did the moment of silence in the song – that’s what they kind of added to it. It really impacted the song, too. I always saw this song as an hourglass with sand falling during the silence. I don’t know. Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s just me thinking about that too much, but that song came together super for easy for those two and me. The guitar playing on all my songs is done by a guy named con Riddel who is the most incredible guitar player, an absolute legend who does all the solos, one of my best friends, and my live player, too. Actually, me and my live band live together in this house that I’m in right now. We’re doing stuff like the old school seventies bands were doing where we all live in a house together. We all love each other. We’ve known each other for a decade and we finally started doing songs together after we already toured together for another act before. They all just liked what I was making, so we all decided to live together. This guy, though… he’s insane. He plays all my crazy guitar solos. He’s so good. That basically how that song came together. I don’t remember a whole lot about that one, but I remember that it was very fun and very exciting and I had a good fun with it.
Track Five –– “Talk to Me”
“I’ve grown to really like this song. At first I wasn’t sold and I don’t know why. I’m very, very picky about what I listen to – I always listen to the same music. It’s really hard for me to get attached to something new unless it’s like mind-blowing – so if any labels are looking to hire a 65-year-old me for A&R once this whole thing is done, I’m perfect for that! Really, though, it didn’t catch me right away. I thought it was good, but ‘How Long’ and ‘Talk to Me’ were the same weekend and I loved ‘How Long.’ I made both of them in my basement and ‘How Long’ just felt so much stronger to me – to the point where I was like, ‘Oh, here is ‘How Long,’ and then there’s also this other one I made!’ [Laughs] Eventually one of my managers, Chris, was like, ‘Yo, stop. These are both really good.’
This one was all about a friend I had that I was talking to and I would just love when she would call me. I did have feelings for this girl at the time. remember one night I was like, ‘Oh man, I hope she calls me,’ but then she texted me like, ‘Oh, I’m out drinking with my friends!” And so I was like, ‘After all this alcohol, talk to me. When you get home, talk to me.’ I always said that to her: ‘Talk to me, talk to me.’ That night I reapplied that was kind of cool and that should be a song. That became this whole thing, this progression of a whole night, which you can hear in the lyrics. It is a story and one scene goes into another making it also a very visual song. I just wanted to be talked to… and then I realized how much of a pun it was. I hated that at first, then I agreed to love it, and now I just love it. I thought that it was very clever and that it was a clear title to be the title track. Just based off of the pun as I’m TALK.
Track Six –– “Save Me”
“[This] song is the oldest one on the project. I wrote it song in 2017 – it is four years old and it was my first that I had recorded. It’s about a friend of mine and when I wrote it, I had similar feelings about it as I had with ‘Mars.’ So Ken Lewis and Brent Kolatalo are based in New Jersey, where you’re at, and they’re two producers that I work with a lot. I recorded the final version of this song in New Jersey. Oh, I love it there. […] Anyway, it was my first experience traveling outside the country to work on music and it was like 2018. I had no like socials or releases or anything, but these like two big producers who had done work with fun. and Taylor Swift hit up one of my managers and got me out there. We ended up recording ‘Save Me,’ but then it sat for a super long time. I kind of thought I was past it. I was like, ‘Oh, this is a little soft, it’s a little too poppy,’ but then when we were starting to play with a trackless for the EP, it came back around. It is a stunner and it always kept coming back up on our lists. When you’re an artist, you’re sending playlists of SoundCloud links out to like all these people – and this song always found its way onto those. If we were sending it to agents or promoters or producers, it would always find its way on there. To me, that meant that everyone really loved this song. I love this song still and I think it stood the test of time for those four years. It’s a classic already and maybe it’s worth that title.
I don’t remember when I recorded it – the original version. I only remember when I recorded the vocals for this version, but I don’t remember where I wrote it or where I started. It was so long ago, but still, I love the song and what it’s saying. The message behind it is still something I feel all the time. It’s something that my friends come to me and feel all the time. It’s something that people experience forever – always have and always will. ‘Talk to Me,’ too, I feel fits in with that. It’s like, ‘Save me. Talk to me. Communicate.’ It really is about communicating feelings, communicating thoughts, and trying to have an open conversation about how you are feeling… how I am feeling. I’ll always remember this song as something that I was going through and some other people around me were going through. I’m not there anymore, but I was, and it’s a good reminder of the journey and where I’ve come from with communicating and emoting.”
TALK’S DEBUT EP, TALK TO ME, IS OUT TODAY WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC! KEEP UP WITH TALK BY FOLLOWING HIM ON INSTAGRAM… OR TIKTOK, WHERE HE “RIPS” INTO ORIGINAL SONGS AND CLASSIC FAVORITES!