There is a rather raw innocence that comes with existentialism. The belief that an individual’s life depends solely on how they interpret and live through their own experiences is, essentially, intellectual history–both literary and philosophical. Emerging out of the post-World-War-II era, the movement originated through the work of Jean-Paul Sartre and such thinkers as Karl Jaspers, Jean Wahl, Miguel de Unamuno and Nikolai Berdyaev, among numerous others, spanning the regions of Germany, France, Spain and Russia. Countless writers and philosophers came to be recognized under the movement, which thrived in the 1940s and ’50s. But, as with many philosophical movements, the idealisms spilled over into the reflections of art and music–and ask any coming of age singer, songwriter or musician, and they avow an existential crisis is very real and absolutely inescapable. “Somebody tell me that it’s going to be OK,” Eden Warsaw manifests on “Somebody Tell Me,” a smoldering downtempo pop-rock track. It needles together his own deep-rooted uncertainties, a troubled view of the world and his ability to share his story, succinctly and fearfully. “Is it ever too late? Or am I in too deep?” he probes.
“Somebody Tell Me” and his previous song “Ghosts” both sample a forthcoming album called Calm the Coast. “In a weird way, it’s this really raw album about life, the ups and downs we go through. The first album [2016’s ‘Searching for Someone’] was definitely a more conceptual love album, but I wanted this new album to be about almost anything we can experience in life,” he tells B-Sides & Badlands over a recent phone call. “‘Somebody Tell Me’ is a really rough chapter someone could be going through, and then, there are songs like ‘Boulevard’ that deal with longing for somebody and you are willing to do anything. It finally clicked in my head that this is right. There’s another song called ‘Ecstasy,’ which is just about the good times. It’s definitely a roller coaster.”
Originally called something else entirely, Calm the Coast begins with a song called “Fade Away,” which contains only a “a couple notes on electric guitar and opens up asking ‘what are we here for? If I start losing my way, will someone come and find me?’ It’s a really cool song. The album then gets more aggressive into the next few songs,” he says. “The whole theme of the album is actually waves, and it is basically saying we can be hit with all these big waves in our lives and it could look like a crazy storm is coming–but at some point, everything will be alright again. The water will go back to being flat; the waves will be more mellow again; and everything’s gonna be alright. You do have to go through the motions; you have to go through the storm; you have to go through whatever it is. You have to deal with it before you can get to the other side. You can’t just snap your fingers.”
Warsaw digs into his thoughtful production choices, what he learned through the writing/recording of the new album and finding interest in his music from several labels.
Dig into our exclusive Q&A session below:
How did you aim to take the production of your music to the next level with “Somebody Tell Me” and “Ghosts”?
“Ghosts” was recorded a little bit after the first album, so it’s technically a b-side. With the new single, as well as the new album, I definitely wanted to maybe go a bit more alternative. I wasn’t planning on anything, really. The only electronic portions of the new stuff are the synths you hear and the drums. Otherwise, everything else is all real instruments. I played the guitars, the bass and did all the vocals and harmonies. I wanted to make it more organic.
There is raspy quality to the new single. How did “Somebody Tell Me” come together?
I didn’t even try anything on that. It was the only type of vocal part that worked. We were using just a regular Neumann U87 into a pre-amp and it was giving us this really raw sound, maybe I stayed up really late the night before writing lyrics. For a lot of the album, I would have the music and would know the gist of what I wanted to say. But I would spend a lot of the nights right before writing all the actual lyrics. It was probably something I went through that night or the week before. It just kind of happened.
You mention having the music before the lyrics. Is that always your process?
Honestly, 95 percent of the time, I definitely write all the music first or at least, I get a good portion of the song done first. I write verses and lyrics on the side and later on, once I have some music, I’ll start flipping through stuff I’ve written and see if any of it matches the mood of the music.
When it comes down to reworking lyrics or music, does that happen often?
I actually did have to do that on the new album. There were two songs that the engineer said “you should do this on the chorus,” and that meant I would have to go back and do the electronic stuff I was doing and alter things. It wasn’t as quick as just deleting something. I was a little sad that day because I knew we weren’t going to get to record it. But it worked out for the better. I brought it back the next week with the changes he suggested, and the song really worked out. It wouldn’t have worked out the original way.
Your first album was released only last year. Did you feel pressure to follow that up so soon?
Funny enough, the album that was released last year was recorded about three or four years ago. I didn’t actually want to release any music. I wasn’t in the right mindset. Once you release music, you kind of have to keep going–you can’t just disappear for a while unless you’re a band like Radiohead. They can afford to disappear. But when you are an indie artist, you have to go, go go, especially if that’s your passion. That album was recorded a long time ago, and then, once I added my friends to the band, they were like “you’ve got this new album in the works, I think you should release the other one, so we can finish this new one and start from where we actually are.” That was just a necessary step.
So, you started the new album before the last one was released?
That’s right. It is a little different of an approach, especially in our day and age. If I had recorded a couple singles off the first album, then, people release it right away, right? They just want to put it out there and that’s it. For some reason, I just wanted to hang onto everything for awhile.
What did you learn about yourself through writing and recording the new album?
I realized that no matter how much sometimes I want to go into the mainstream sound or produce in that very small pocket of what’s cool right now, I can never do it. I can never actually bring myself to do something that isn’t genuine. Every time I do something, it’s always going to be a little bit off-center. I can’t just copy something for the sake of it. It almost seems too easy to just do whatever the cool sound is. I learned I have some kind of musical and artistic integrity.
Did you have specific influences upon which you drew for the new record?
I think so. I really like bands like Beach House and Mutemath, even twenty one pilots, too. When you listen to one of their records, it has its own vibe from start to finish, especially Beach House. It’s almost like this relaxing–well, not relaxing because some of their songs are aggressive–but when you see them live, it’s a totally different show. That’s something I wanted to do. I wanted to give all the elements of what I wanted people to hear in the song, and then, when you go see a live show, everything comes to life. It’s like putting on 3D glasses. You are hearing it in a full sense.
Did any roadblocks come up in the album’s process?
I’m definitely lucky. As soon as I start writing music, I had so many options for this album. It was more about choosing. I recorded 15 songs, maybe a little bit more, for this album. 13 really gave it a full-framed picture. The only difficult part was picking the right songs and finding the theme. You never know. The next album could be the worst experience of my life.
What are some other standout songs on the album?
Potentially, the next single is going to be a song called “The Sunrise.” It just works. It’s just now starting to get warmer in Toronto. We’ve been waiting and waiting for summer. The song vibes really well with the warmer weather. I’m hoping we can time it and get this single out there. There’s another song called “Maybe,” which is a really cool, different kind of pop song. It’s in the same vein as “Somebody Tell Me.” It has more of that sadness in it. The album has so many back and forths. It’s well-balanced in that sense.
You are of Polish background. Was it your parents who moved here or further back in your lineage?
It was my parents. They moved to Canada when they were 19 or something. I am definitely the first generation Canadian. I think I learned how to speak Polish first, actually. All of my relatives still live in Poland, so the only way I can speak with them is in Polish. It’s different.
Have you ever considered incorporating Polish into your music?
I would love to. I think it’d be really cool to do Polish shoutouts. It’s such a cool and unique language. I would love to try my hand at least writing a song 100 percent dedicated to the Polish language. Maybe, I can sing all the songs on this album in Polish. I think having that in my pocket is pretty cool. In the future, maybe I’ll just throw it out there. One day, I’d love to play a festival in Poland.
When is the album coming, and what are your other plans for the year?
Touring is our hope. The album release date is still to be determined. We have a few labels that are talking to us. We don’t want to put it out on our own. We do think someone is going to take it off the market, kind of thing. Our bags are packed and ready to go for touring this year. This album is really a 2017 album. It works everything that’s happen, whether you are looking at the political landscapes or different countries. It’s a weirdly-timed and appropriate album.
What’s it like having interest from labels?
It’s…frustrating, actually. I think we have such a solid album. Labels are really…not scared but they really want to see somebody that’s blowing up. Problem is you can fake so much these days. I could go out there and buy 100,000 Facebook followers, and then, all of a sudden, does that give me any more credibility? It doesn’t. It just comes down to the music. I really want them to focus on the music and potential there. That’s what the whole core of the industry is supposed to be about. It’s definitely humbling, too. I’m excited for the next step.