Quinn Lewis has found his voice, and he’s flexing every muscle to craft honest, intimate songs glowing with musical warmth and soul-stirring vulnerability.
Stream: “Only Everything” – Quinn Lewis
All it takes is one listen to his latest songs to know that Quinn Lewis is in a really good place right now. The Brisbane-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter has found his voice, and he’s flexing every creative muscle to craft honest, intimate songs glowing with musical warmth and soul-stirring vulnerability.
In our introduction to the artist two years ago, Atwood Magazine praised Lewis for his powerful singing tones that “could melt a stick of butter on a cool wintry day”:
He’s got the Midas voice, turning mere words into slippery, glistening gold before our very eyes and ears. The singer’s soulful croon is so potent, that he doesn’t need instrumental layers behind him to sell a song. He’s able to create and hold tension alone.
Introduced in mid-2017, Lewis’ independently-released second single “Slipping” found him playing into that summer’s popular vibey electropop sound: A moody song for heavier days, “Slipping” builds sultry melodies and pulsing beats into a smoldering lovelorn lament.
“Slipping” proved to be an early breakthrough, hitting #1 on the Hype Machine and opening the door to opportunities with A-list producers and more. Lewis collaborated with R3HAB on the song “How’ve You Been,” which features on the producer’s 2018 album The Wave and has already amassed over 7 million streams on Spotify alone. In spite of the buzz surrounding him, Lewis appeared reticent with respect to his own artistry, releasing only two songs – “In Between” and “Weekend Luv” – throughout the year. For someone who writes nearly every day, that’s a small number of releases. Thankfully, all that is changing.
“I noticed a lot of my writing pivoted away from what I wanted to say and towards what I thought people wanted to hear,” Lewis reflects. “Compared to what I’m writing right now, I think the stakes are higher but now there’s a sense of calm knowing what I want to say, and as long as I say it, things will figure themselves out.”
Quinn Lewis began 2019 with the exciting announcement that he had signed a major label deal with the legendary Sony Music-affiliated Arista Records. He’s been riding high ever since, releasing a steady slew of songs that showcase his multifaceted artistry.
This year kicked off with the intimate sonic fires of “Hanging On,” followed by the personal diary-like “Pushing All My Friends Away” and most recently, the beautiful love song “Only Everything.” Each of these songs shows Quinn Lewis in a slightly different light, highlighting his incredible singing voice alongside his nuanced approach to instrumentation, melody, and lyrics.
I don’t want to ever be put in a box with what I can say as an artist or a writer.
Lewis continues to be his own biggest critic, meaning it’s unlikely he’ll be unveiling a massive catalog of content any time soon. Yet with three songs released in 2019 already, fans of the talented artist-to-watch can rest easy knowing there is much more to come: “[I’m] eager. Eager to get my music out, to keep figuring my shit out, and to start playing shows!”
There’s no denying it: Quinn Lewis is in a really good place, and he’s taking everyone along for the ride – a musical journey through happiness, sadness, and all the messy stuff in-between. Dive into Quinn Lewis and his new music in our in-depth interview!
A CONVERSATION WITH QUINN LEWIS
Atwood Magazine: Quinn, why did you choose to start 2019 with the song “Hanging On”?
Quinn Lewis: I was still half in the emotion and the story behind “Hanging On” when we wrote the song. I was aware of what was happening so I think I was moving past it. But putting the song out to start off 2019 felt like a step towards actually being over what happened, and a good foreshadowing of the music I’m going to be putting out the rest of the year.
It’s been about two years since we first connected through “Slipping.” How would you describe your musical growth over that time? How are you different today than who you were then?
Lewis: I’ve had a lot of highs and lows since releasing “Slipping,” but I’ve grown a lot and have learned what I want to say versus what I think people want me to. Back then, outside approval was so much more important to me than it is today. “Slipping” is still insanely special to me and it’s probably one of the less “successful” songs of mine. Getting that instant feedback from HypeMachine and the rest of the “industry” not losing their mind kinda threw me for a loop (what threw you through a loop?) two years ago, and I noticed a lot of my writing pivoted away from what I wanted to say and towards what I thought people wanted to hear. Compared to what I’m writing right now, I think the stakes are higher but now there’s a sense of calm knowing what I want to say, and as long as I say it, things will figure themselves out.
“Hanging On” has a sort of tropical vibe/beat thing going on. What inspired this?
Lewis: MSTR Rogers came through with the vibe for “Hanging On,” for sure. Steph and I wanted to blur the line of Drake and Crowded House with our melodies, because I love both of those artists. I think it’s a “Quinn” thing to be able to find the commonalities between the two. I’m not sure if we were aiming for tropical, but the whole process was centered around us making space for our favorite elements and keeping them cohesive.
Some songs can be made from simulating an emotion, whilst others require you to actually be in a certain frame of mind to evoke their imagery. What was the inspiration for “Hanging On,” and how did it come about?
Lewis: Yeah, you’re exactly right. I write every day basically, sometimes as a writer you’re simulating an emotion. For “Hanging On” I had pretty recently been hurt, and it was much easier to channel that feeling. I’m the first person to call myself out when I’m feeling a certain type of way. So when I said that even though the girl in this whole situation had replaced me with someone else, she had a way of keeping me hanging around. We took some liberties merging some experiences from other relationships; I actually did leave my watch at another girl’s place and after we ended I thought I’d never get it back… thankfully I did.
For me, “Hanging On” is a fun song about a somber subject: Its dance beat is groovy, and it could easily hold its own on a Top 40 playlist. Why make a happy song with such sad subject matter?
Lewis: Honestly, because I feel like I’m a happy guy with some sad subject matter. If that makes any sense? I love putting happy songs over sad chords and vice versa. That’s life, sometimes when you’re as happy as you can be you cry, and sometimes when things are so dark, it’s hard not to laugh. There are times when you need to wallow in the darkness, but this wasn’t one of them. Let’s call that groove and happiness an ode to moving on and getting over the somberness.
“Cut me down, won’t you let me loose darling? Don’t just keep me hanging on,” you sing in the chorus. How does this line move you personally, and what does it make you feel when you hear it now?
Lewis: I felt like her puppet, so it’s really a direct statement towards that metaphor. At the time I didn’t feel I had a say in the matter and needed her to cut the chord. When I hear and sing it now, it’s more of a reminder that if that situation comes around again, to keep my head and heart straight about it.
“Only Everything” feels like a complete 180 from “Hanging On,” displaying more lyrical skills and showcasing your propensity for balladry. What does this song mean to you, and how does it fit into your catalog of material?
Lewis: If “Hanging On” is the before picture on my emotional diet, I’d hope for “Only Everything” to be the after picture. When you mentioned being able to simulate an emotion as a writer, I hope this is an example of that. I haven’t had the person I feel that way about yet, but I know that something inside me craves that feeling more than anything. I don’t want to ever be put in a box with what I can say as an artist or a writer. A lot of the time I fight for lyrics to be real things that have happened to me and emotions that I’m in, in that space and time, but I think we all have days where we’re particularly susceptible to that rom-com or the happy old couple at the coffee shop. We wrote this song on that day, and I think releasing it as a contrast to “Hanging On” is really important to show that spectrum of songs I have, and that all people have.
I haven’t had the person I feel that way about yet, but I know that something inside me craves that feeling more than anything.
We can’t speak without addressing your signing to the legendary Arista Records! How did this connection come about, and how has this experience transformed your artistry in the moment?
Lewis: I didn’t want to end up somewhere trying to do the same major label formula. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the way the team has come together and the support they show as a group is incredible. I was introduced to David Massey and the team by Ben Singer, and from the moment he and I sat down I had a gut feeling. The fact that David and the team was interested in the unreleased music and relatively starting from the ground up, it felt like the perfect place to grow into where I want to be.
What are you most looking forward to about this year, with regard to your own music?
Lewis: I want to release more music than I ever have in the past, and hopefully get face to face with the people who’ve been listening and get the chance to sing the songs together. I’m absolutely buzzing to be opening up for Kevin Garrett coming up, and can’t wait to see what people think of the new music.
Seeing as we’ve had about four months of 2019 now, what are your favorite releases of the year? Who’s making big moves in your own hometown that I should know about and listen to?
Lewis: I’m really pumped on the new Cautious Clay songs rolling out. I’ve been playing “HONEST ENOUGH” pretty non-stop. Disclosure is crushing it as always, with Khalid on “Talk” and just the other Friday “Bones” by Maren Morris – which she wrote with a friend and co-writer I’ve been loving, Laura Veltz. It blew me away. As far as big moves from hometowns: Nashville, if you aren’t bumping Lennon Stella you’re doing something wrong; Australia, there’s an artist named GRAACE that I’ve been loving.
Assuming an artistry is ever-evolving, how would you describe who you are as a musician at this moment in time, in 2019?
Lewis: Eager. Eager to get my music out, to keep figuring my shit out, and to start playing shows.
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📸 © Sara Kiesling