Interview: Broken Back’s Dire “Wake Up” Call Sparks Life Anew

Broken Back © Emma Birski
Broken Back reckons with the irreconcilable in his urgent new single “Wake Up,” a dramatic confrontation of mortality full of tension and arresting energy.
Stream: “Wake Up” – Broken Back


There’s a depth to our mortality that feels lost in the phrase, “YOLO.” To say “you only live once” is not the same as truly internalizing our temporal limitations; of reconciling our present existence with the fleeting days and precious moments that pass us by. Every moment of our lives is shadowed by an ever-present and unavoidable fact: To live is to die. Broken Back reckons with the irreconcilable in his urgent new single “Wake Up,” a dramatic confrontation of mortality full of tension and arresting energy.

Wake Up - Broken Back

Wake Up – Broken Back

I know we’re lost in this race
It’s where we hide from the truth
Her voice was clear and my hands
Cold as she broke the news

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Wake Up,” Broken Back’s dynamic fourth single of 2019. A collaboration with Henri PFR, “Wake Up” finds Broken Back’s Jérôme Fagnet capturing the emotional tumult of a single moment in time:

“Wake up echoes a famous quote from Confucius: We all have two lives,” Fagnet tells Atwood Magazine. “The truth is the second starts when we realize we only have one. I tried here to portray the “one second” moment when we truly take the measure of our mortality.”

Wake up, wake up, wake up now
Don’t miss your life
Way up, way up, way up high
They’ll show you how
Get up, get up, get up now
The time goes by
Keep it, keep it, keep it in mind
For the rest of your life, life, life
For the rest of your life, life, life
For the rest of your life

Understanding the ramifications of “YOLO” provides the individual with an important opportunity for transformation. How do we invest our time knowing that our days, hours, minutes, and seconds are limited by some force that is ultimately out of our control? We inevitably change around our priorities, embracing life to the fullest extent.

Broken Back’s depiction of this pivotal event comes from personal experience. “Everything started with what I actually felt the first time I switched onto my second life,” he recalls, explaining how he incorporated feelings of fear, strife, and more into an increasingly escalating outpouring of nervous energy.

Considering the shock of this once-in-a-lifetime moment, it seems only fitting to name it a “Wake Up” call.

Dive deeper into Broken Back’s new single in our exclusive interview with Jérôme Fagnet, and stream “Wake Up” for a raw dose of urgent indie pop and overwhelming truth.

And now I’m stuck in place
I don’t know what to accuse
My eyes they shrunk in my head
I hate this freaking news…
Stream: “Wake Up” – Broken Back

A CONVERSATION WITH BROKEN BACK

Atwood Magazine: Hi Jerome! Thanks so much for your time. I guess the best place to start is learning where your artistry is today in May 2019. You’ve been so busy lately, releasing lots of new music and actively performing, so I’d love to ask you point-blank: What are your current musical goals?

Broken BackMusic is what gives me the chance to blossom and travel a lot. My only goal is to have fun!

Following a quieter release schedule in 2018, 2019 has seen you putting out singles almost once a month. From “Young Love” to “She Falls,” each of these songs finds you in a different sonic environment. What’s driving these new sounds?

Broken Back: The first album was the genesis of Broken Back, as I composed it while recovering from a serious back injury. The second, however, was composed on tour the last two years, while travelling everywhere playing gigs all over the world! I wanted to bring back into studio all these memories, sounds and emotions I just experienced through this great journey on the road.

Of equal note is your transformation as a lyricist: these songs are increasingly poetic and vague, open to interpretation in their exploration of love, heartbreak, self-doubt and insecurity, and so on. How have you found yourself growing as a writer? Is it a conscious effort or more subconscious?

Broken BackWriting on personal matters, through metaphors that enable anyone to widen the scope of interpretation, is how I love writing. Fans often write to me to deliver their very own lecture on the lyrics. And I’m always thrilled to read how they’ve appropriated the words and applied them to their very own and personal life experiences.

This brings us to “Wake Up.” What is the significance of this song to you?

Broken BackWake up echoes a famous quote from Confucius: We all have two lives. The truth is the second starts when we realize we only have one. I tried here to portray the “one second” moment when we truly take the measure of our mortality. This same moment that I call “the spark” that should later ignite the fires of a brand new life.

There’s a profound darkness permeating “Wake Up” as you capture the blow of this life-changing realization. How did you grow this song in order to capture these feelings?

Broken BackEverything started with what I actually felt the first time I switched onto my second life. I captured this feeling inside of me and kept it there so I could write about it one day. This day finally came when I started writing “Wake Up.” All I did was listen to these inside trapped emotions.

Can you talk about the significance of repetition in your art, and how you choose to sing the same lines in order to transform the scene?

Broken BackIt does happen that a line appears twice in the same song. Every time it happens you’ll hear the melodies, production and arrangements evolve behind so you could focus on the emotions variations delivered by the music while emphasizing the message.

There’s a heavy weight to the chorus’ lyric, “For the rest of your life.” This finality speaks to a deeper theme of (often unwanted) change. Can you talk about the importance that feeling, for you?

Broken BackThis stand like a life philosophy. And I applied it since I was almost a child. I always wanted to do things out of passion. That is how I’ve never had the feeling to be working, not one day in my life, but rather having fun doing the things I love.

Broken Back © Emma Birski

Broken Back © Emma Birski

Do you feel you could have made these songs when you were starting out 5 years ago?

Broken Back: I don’t think so. My state of mind was totally different at that time. I was trying to escape reality because of my back issues rather than trying to anchor into it and make it mine.

With now 4 songs out in 2019, you’re certainly delivering on long-awaited promises. what can audiences expect from Broken Back in the summer and fall of this year?

Broken Back: A lot of new songs! The album will be the continuity of this electronic world folk songs already released.

For those listening to this song for the very first time, do you have any advice for them as they press play?

Broken Back: Are you ready to chase your dreams ? Pledge yourself!

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:: stream/purchase Wake Up here ::

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Wake Up - Broken Back

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com