It’s a tremendous achievement for an artist with no previous releases under his belt. In the weeks leading up to his debut EP release, Same Kind of Different, Dean Lewis chatted to us about creating his music videos, how Waves came to be featured on the teen mystery show Riverdale, and that time he competed in a world gaming championship.
What inspired Waves and its heavy emotion?
A lot of people think it’s about relationships, but it’s more about how with every year [that] passes, life gets a little bit less exciting. I was in London a year ago and a few music things were happening, and I’m like “Why am I not really enjoying my life? Like, this is cool!” Then I remembered when I was 15 and you’d go to a house party and you’d be so excited, or going to the movies with your friends. Where has that feeling gone?
Is there anything that still makes you feel that excitement when you’re in one of those low-tide moments?
You know what? I’m a pretty positive person. But the weird thing about what’s happened is, in a way, the song has kind of brought it full circle. Because I’m playing gigs, I’m talking to you, I’m doing radio, my song has got all these views and listens and streams and it’s exciting. Life’s really exciting again. It’s pretty cool.
How did Waves come to be on the American TV show Riverdale?
Oh my God. It blew me away! Publishing companies basically pick songs for these shows that – I asked this question too – they pitch their songs to shows. And as they were looking, this girl apparently just pitched my song for whatever reason. I watched it and I could not believe how… It’s almost like my song was written for that scene. And I’m so glad that they played it because I’m a: obsessed with Riverdale, and b: it just kind of blew the song up. We had the song out for four months and the only people who were really supporting it were Triple J and [another station] and then all of a sudden we had all these subscribers, and there’s all these people commenting, and the views have gone crazy from this one show in America. So I’m just blown away by it.
For Same Kind of Different, you wanted to choose songs that worked together as a collective – what is it about the particular songs you chose that worked for you?
My stuff can be kind of different. I go through phases when I’m writing songs; if I’m surging to that kind of music, I’m just keen to write songs like that. I think that there’s a thread through them. But I’ve written 100 to 150 [songs] in the last two years so it was really, really, really tough choosing songs for the EP. And it’s also hard because I don’t want to give everything away too quickly. I kept a few of the ones that I think will be better for the album. I’m really proud of the songs so I can’t wait to put this EP out there.
You’ve traditionally stuck to songwriting, but now that you’re performing live more often is your head around that aspect of it yet?
It’s still a bit foreign to be honest, but it’s becoming a bit more natural, ’cause that’s kind of where I started. I mean, I didn’t really know I was good enough to be playing live. I’m not even trying to be super humble or anything like that. I think there’s a lot of people that are writing songs in their room, and you kind of are [your own] worst critic. I’m like “Ugh, my voice sounds terrible, but whatever.”
I get obsessed with things like songwriting and I got obsessed with “Okay, now I’ve got to start playing live” so I basically just rehearsed. I’d go in with still weeks and weeks [to go] and play in this rehearsal room by myself, just learning how to do it. And it’s kind of become one of my stronger points I think.
Do you think there’s something about performing in front of the crowd and seeing their immediate response that helps you when writing your songs?
You know, maybe not even in a positive way. I think I used to write songs not knowing anyone would hear them, and now I kind of overthink things. I’ll be like “Will that work?” I don’t know [if] it’s super beneficial. I’m writing again but it’s been a little different this time because you kind of overthink it a little bit. But we’ll see how that works out.
Is it true that you competed in a gaming championship? How did you get involved in that?
Yeah. So as I was saying before, I get really obsessed with things. Me and my [three] brothers, we’d all played this game called Halo. And then this game called Halo 2 came out, the sequel. We just started playing online and we were just beating everyone.
We would spend weekends playing it. We would get home and that’s all we’d do. Then we won this competition called the World Cyber Games and they sent us to Singapore to be featured around the world. It was such a cool experience. I don’t really have as much time now to play games, obviously. I kind of watch them on this site called Twitch. They stream games. If I calm down and want to chill and get my mind off music I’ll just watch other people gaming. Which is kind of sad! [laughs] I wish I had more time to do it, I really do.
What are you hoping people will get out of your debut EP?
I just want it to reach an audience. I want it to keep building and growing, and for more people to hear it, and just to keep learning and keep trying to write better songs.
I’m also kind of obsessed with the music videos as well. My best mate [Mick Jones] is the guy who did Waves and he’s done the next one, for Need You Now. I was on a plane back from Europe, and I’d just sit there with my notebook and listen to the songs and try to think of really cool concepts for the videos. I really like doing all that stuff and all the artwork I have, I love it. I love creating ‘little worlds’, is what I call them.
So you have an input in creating the music videos?
Mick has got this production company and he’s this incredible cameraman, director and editor. With Waves, he came up with the initial concept, and then and we’d go back and forth.
Need You Now is about a kind of casual relationship, and not wanting something serious and always wanting more, which is something I’ve dealt with. I didn’t want the clip to be super relationshippy. So we made it about this guy who is addicted to drugs, and it’s a bit darker. But I love it because it’s kind of the same thing as the song and it’s really cool and I’m really excited to see what people think about it, cause it’s kind of a little bit different.
You can pick up Dean Lewis’ debut EP Same Kind of Different at JB Hi-Fi from May 12.