Gnash talks new album, touring and musical inspirations
Gnash is an artist who is constantly looking at the bigger picture when it comes to music and its impact on those listening. He is determined to make change through his stories and messages through sound and also in person at his concerts currently on the broken hearts club tour. After his smash hit ‘i hate you, i love you” with Olivia O’Brien, his voice became instantly recognizable around the world. Recently, Gnash released his debut album we and opened up to United by Pop about the album’s message, theme and purpose in an interview.
Congratulations on the new album we! What can you tell me about the album as a whole and how excited are you that it’s finally out?
Thank you! I took about two years to make it and we kind of document a couple of things on it. One is the journey of my own mental health and my own growth as a person. I took a lot of time for myself over the last two years after all the craziness that stemmed from the success of ‘“i hate u, i love you.” I took a lot of time to think and in that time to think, I had a lot of thoughts that I thought could maybe help all of us, so that’s why it’s called we. It’s because anything that I thought could help everybody, I tried to make a song about. I’m very excited that it’s out. I’m ready to work harder than I ever have in my life to make sure everyone hears it and everyone feels better by it because if we feel together, than we’ll feel better.
The single on we so far is ‘t-shirt.’ What would you say was the inspiration behind that track?
The way that “t-shirt” came about was a friend of mine named Charlie Schneider came over and he suggested we write a song about one of those tourist t-shirts and then I kind of worked the line in “you broke my heart and all I got was this t-shirt.” Musically, it kind of formed into a pop punk thing because that’s the music I grew up on.
Who has inspired your music and are still your musical inspirations today?
I’m a huge huge Beatles fan, so Sgt. Pepper’s was always in my head, Rubber Soul [and] Abbey Road. I grew up on their stuff, so that was super helpful. I love James Taylor and I went to his concert earlier last year with my mom, so that was super inspirational for me and for the album. Also, more modern, I love Jack Johnson. I’m a huge fan of a lot of things, but I think that what inspired me most on this album was not only music but the people that I knew needed to hear it. You may not always hear what I want to say, but I hope that a lot of the time people need to hear what I have to say because they’re things that I need to hear [too]. If I’m saying them, I’m hoping someone else needs to hear them too. I think that’s the biggest thing I’m inspired by. When people tell me they need something, it comes to me kind of musically for the people that need the songs…the members of the broken hearts club. The people out there who are appreciating that I have an album out and I’m extremely grateful for them.
‘Us’ was out in 2016 and now about two years later the album is here. What differs between those two bodies of work and how has your sound evolved since then?
In the past when I would make music, I would kind of make a song and put it out and there wasn’t much thought process behind the body of work. I did that on my first EP and then I kind of just, just to keep my head straight, had to put out songs about how I was feeling. ‘Me’ and ‘us’ are very much that. I think one of the biggest things on this album is that I took the time to make sure that I was really proud of the transitions and the flow of the album and the listening experience and the story. I’m really proud of that. Also, I think that one of the biggest things that is true to me is that every single word on this album is honest and is how I feel. Even if it was a co-writing situation or something I did with someone else, no matter what, I always made sure that it was honest to me because I knew that if it was going to be honest for me, it was going to be honest for someone else and then that would make we.
You had a massively successful hit ‘I hate u, i love u’ back in 2016. How was it to have that collaboration and see it become so successful?
At the time, I don’t think I was grateful enough for it. The reason that I put it on my album we is because I wanted to give the song the respect it deserved because obviously, it’s helped, you know, almost a billion people if not more. I’m extremely thankful for that. Almost a seventh of the world has heard that song based on Spotify alone. I’m really thankful for Olivia for bringing that song to me and I’m really thankful for the world in embracing it [in] the way that they did. Now it’s on my album because I think it deserves that light. It deserves that shine because there are people who still haven’t heart it but need it.
Speaking of collaborations, I know we just came out, but going forward, is there anyone you would like to work with in the future?
Yeah! There’s plenty of people. I’m always working with new people. I’m looking forward to the next project because I want it to be more collaborative. I wanted to make sure that with we, I created one essential voice for people to connect with. I used features pretty lightly on this album because I wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to paint their own canvas. Moving forward to future projects, I am looking forward to doing more collaborative work with people. Anyone who is interested in helping people feel better, has a creative collaborator waiting in me.
The “broken hearts club tour” just started recently! How has that been?
Fantastic! Every single night has been a different and beautiful experience. We open the night every night with an arts and crafts experience. We basically make a different arts and crafts thing every night and it’s been awesome. We do the show and that’s been amazing because people are so excited about the new music. We sing along to the old ones, but I see people so excited for the new era of what I’ve created and that just inspires me to do more. After the show, we have broken hearts club meetings for people who are members of the broken hearts club. Those are completely free and people come and hang out. We talk about feelings and take a group photo. I’m just very thankful that I’m in a position to help change the world with this tour in a small way and eventually in a very, very big way. We’re doing it together. Me and the members of the broken hearts club.
If you could only listen to two albums for the next month, which ones would you choose and why?
That’s actually an easier answer than you would think. One would be Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and the other one would be we. It’s been helping me already and I wrote so many of the songs that are already coming around in a full circle way and reminding me of things that I know I need to believe in when times get tough. Although I’m the creative vehicle for it, I like to think that we wrote it.
Thank you gnash for opening up about your life and music to United by Pop. You can watch gnash perform music from this era and the previous ones during his tour, the broken hearts club tour, happening now.