Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari & Jana Letonja

Nashville based singer-songwriter Young Summer released her latest single ‘Make Waves’ on 5th May along with announcing her forthcoming self-titled album, which will be out this fall.

For our readers who haven’t had the chance to get to know you yet, could you describe your musical style? 

I’d describe my musical style as raw and sincere songwriting paired with whimsical and deliberate production that draws from my love of 60s and 70s music and builds on the electronic elements I’ve used previously. 

Young Summer is your stage name. Why did you choose this name and what is the story behind it? 

I loved the idea of going by a different name as it acts as a bit of armor for me, to help me feel protected when I was being vulnerable and helps me be even more honest. I feel more courageous now, but when I first started, having a moniker definitely helped. I chose Young Summer because to me it encapsulated that feeling at the beginning of the summer when everything feels possible, every plan you make and every thing you say you’re going to do, you believe yourself when you say it. The world is yours briefly and there’s an ease and a freedom in it. Young Summer to me means everything is possible.

You gained recognition in 2014 when you released your first album Siren, which received critical acclaim and firmly cemented your status as a rising talent in the independent music scene. Did you expect such success? 

Well, thank you for saying that. I did not expect it at all. I knew I loved the music I’d made, that’s all I had to go on. I hoped others would connect with it too. It was something compared to nothing and it was incredibly wonderful to see and still see the response from people and how connected they feel to the music. 

What is your earliest memory related to music and when did you know you wanted to be a singer? Did you sing in the shower as a child or was it a passion that came later in life? 

My mom always had music on in the house, so my first memories are of us dancing to music. I also learned from my mom that music was the way to make a bad situation better. If I was upset, she’d put on a great song and it would completely change the mood. I moved around a lot growing up and my mom would always put the stereo in the car with us so that it could be the first thing setup when we got to our new place. Music has just always been a centerpiece of my life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing and that I didn’t want to be a singer. I loved Karen Carpenter and remember thinking I want to do that someday. The way The Carpenters’ songs made me feel and the idea I might be able to do that for someone else sounded like magic. 

You released your latest single Make Waves‘ on 5th May, along with announcing your forthcoming self-titled album out this fall. What’s the story behind this new track and how is it interconnected to the story of your forthcoming album? 

Make Waves’ is about letting yourself let go, especially when you put a lot of pressure on yourself. It can be harder and harder to do that as you move through the world. This album is me examining all that I love and appreciate and also the struggles I’ve had with anxiety and how I really cope by making music. To be able to poetically write about things I’ve struggled with is the ultimate release and the ultimate freedom. 

How would you describe the atmosphere and sound of Make Waves? What are you trying to convey with this song?

This new record is very cinematic in its production and I’m excited for people to hear it. ‘Make Waves’ is a great example of that cinematic production. I wanted the music to envelope the listener and bring a calm about. The intro is the listener being ushered into this world I created for them, where they can let go.

Can you tell us about the making of the video clip for your latest single? What were your main inspirations?

The video for ‘Make Waves’ I’m so proud of. I love horror movies and especially older monster movies. I also love 60s cinema, so I wanted to pay homage to these different elements of film. I was also inspired by Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick, which you can really see in the video. The symmetry of Wes Anderson and the zoom shots of Stanley Kubrick. The 8mm style quick, hand held zoom shots felt like they provided that older horror movie aesthetic,like that of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. They communicated a bit of unease and a little bit of chaos in a really beautiful way and added an organic element to the very stylized images. I like things to be a little weird. I wanted it to feel comical and beautiful, and I feel like we really achieved that.

How would you describe your musical evolution from your first album Siren to now?

I’ve really evolved and grown up so much since ‘Siren’. So much has changed in the world. I feel like I know myself better now as a songwriter, a musician and as a person. And you can hear that on this new record. I’m articulating a lot of things I’ve always wanted to say, but didn’t know exactly how to or it just wasn’t right when I did. And the sonic evolution feels so natural, like this was always the path that was laid before me. It feels so right.

What emotions do you want to convey with this new album? 

This album runs through them all. Joy, heartache, fear, enduring love and anxiety. But what I love most about the record is that through it all it lands on being hopeful. I believe that the most rebellious thing we can do in times where things feel really perilous is to try to remain hopeful. I don’t like to always tie things up in a bow because that’s not how life is. We more often than I’d like to admit have no control, but what we can do is to try to be hopeful in the face of what feels like desperate times. If you have your hope, you’ll keep going.

Do you think that composing and singing are cathartic disciplines?  

Absolutely. If I didn’t have this as an outlet, I’m not sure what I’d do. I guess get a therapist. It’s so intensely healing to write about how I have experienced things and get things off my chest. Writing also helps me discover myself more and more. I will start to write about something and almost be surprised at how I am describing it. Your subconscious really works overtime to be heard and mine won’t stop til I hear it and write it down.

In your new song, you talk about letting go and going with the flow. Do you manage to let yourself go and play by ear, despite managing your career and the stress it can cause?

What a great question. It’s hard to just let go and I think being a truly independent artist can be so hard, but also so rewarding. You’re building it yourself. I’m so lucky to have the people who’ve been so supportive over the years. They share it with people and it really makes all the difference. What keeps me going when it gets hard is hearing from the people that love the music I make. It means everything to me. I am trying to be better about letting go and as I, piece by piece, am releasing this new record, it feels so cathartic. So maybe it’s helping me let go a little bit more or maybe I need to write another song about it. 

Photography BREE FISH