If you lived in Denmark and I mentioned Drew Sycamore, chances are you’d have heard of her. Last year’s airwaves were full of her music and she’s about to release a new album in May featuring some of those songs and her new single ‘45 Fahrenheit Girl’. Having spent a lot of time listening to Drew’s music, I think this will be the album that could make UK audiences sit up and take note.
Drew Sycamore’s new music feels like a culmination of everything that’s come before and to me really feels like she’s in a place where she understands her music and what she’d like it to sound like.
Of new song Drew says :
“ ‘45 Fahrenheit Girl’ is a romantic love story about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. A love so strong, she eventually begs him to bite her and suck the blood from her neck to kill her so that they can live together – forever. Of course, it’s no ordinary love story, I know. But I was never the ordinary girl. My version of the prom queen would probably eat the king and most likely break the crown on the dance floor. That’s how I roll – following the mantra of David Bowie. He said that:
“when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting””.
We were lucky enough to chat to this exciting artist and I really hope her thoughtful and insightful answers to my questions prompt you to go seek out her music.
EP: Hi Drew, it’s great to get the chance to ask you some questions. I think it’s fair to say that you are very well known in your native Denmark, but for people who don’t know you and your music can you tell us a little about yourself?
DS: I’m Danish and Welsh and grew up being very close to my Welsh grandmother. Went to the UK when I was 19 and fell in love with the electronic underground scene. Made some tunes with my mate Phil and formed a band and had a few tunes played on Radio One by Pete Tong and that was mental. We had a good thing going but then my mother got diagnosed with cancer and passed away and I sort of lost myself for a while, as one does in grief. It was a dark time for me and sometimes I look back at that time and realise I am a vastly different person now because of all that. I moved back to Denmark to start over in a way and started making music on my own and in 2019 I released my debut album. I make pop music with broad shoulders and an epic larger than life feeling to it (if that makes any sense to anyone at all, haha).
EP: So, growing up, home was full of music I guess with a saxophone playing father and a Welsh mother. In Britain we always say that if you have more than one Welsh person in a room, you have the makings of a choir. It’s such a musical Country. Did that put music in your DNA from an early age?
DS: My great grandmother’s cousin was Ivor Novello and I have a cousin who is a great classical singer in the UK currently, so there’s definitely something about that, haha. I was always told that the Welsh were singers and I guess I always felt it was in my DNA. I definitely couldn’t ever shut up and here I am now! I remember music and singing was encouraged and my grandmother would sing to me and play the guitar and I loved that. She would sing old folk songs and I was always mesmerised. She was a better singer than a knitter that’s for sure. I miss her dearly.
EP: When you started school, coming from this place of musical magic, was it a shock that everyone wasn’t bursting with music?
DS: Oh yes! I remember clearly the first time I encountered the reality that not all my peers could hit a note or sing in tune. My best friend and I would play a lot of games pretending to be on X Factor or something and sing to the judges, haha. I was too shy to sing though but my friend was always fearless. That was rather inspiring to me back then, as I thought it was terrifying standing up in front of people to sing (and that only went away a few years ago)
EP: You learned piano from an early age, is that still your go to song writing instrument?
DS: No actually, I always pick up the guitar now. I’ve got some really nice guitars. Mostly electric. They’ve got some good songs in them and it’s always special to be reminded which songs are written on each guitar. It’s a bit silly, but it’s true.
EP: When you are writing music, who are your main influences in style and has that changed as you’ve got a little older?
DS: Uh that is a question. A good question. I mostly dig into music when I’m not in writing mode. I don’t like to be distracted too much when I’m in writing mode. Lately I’ve listened a lot to Snoh Allegra, 6Lack, Kylie Minogue and her fabulous catalogue. Been digging Roisin Murphy’s latest album as well. I definitely listen to music differently now that I am also a creator of music. I remember when I was absolutely mind blown by Amy Winehouse. She just came out of nowhere, you know, like bam. I was so inspired by her sound and her absolute uniqueness and the way she was at the centre of everything that made her wonderful. I was really inspired to seek my own style when I discovered her. I used to be obsessed with singers like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey but Amy really got me on a new track. James Blake was my next mega crush, what a legend. His voice and the way he composed music got me into wanting to produce and write all by myself. Nowadays though I rarely write alone as I just don’t find it particularly exciting. Most lyrics I do on my own because I’m a nerd about them and I like them just so but I just love when a room is crazy with sounds.
EP: I know that you are a bit of a perfectionist and that you are probably your worst critic. Does being a naturally very driven and ambitious person ever allow you to relax and take stock of what you’ve achieved so far?
DS: Yeah for sure. I’m not a perfectionist in the detrimental sense, more in a way that makes me very driven, I reckon. I try my best at all times to not mess up the flow and if being anal about something gets in the way of having fun then I just let it go. I do it for fun, you know. If it wasn’t fun (and a bit scary) then I wouldn’t be here. Then I’d be somewhere else fun and scary. Maybe I’d have a surf bar on the beach and surf massive waves. I do try to remind myself everyday how lucky I am that I do all this fun stuff for a living and I get to just hang about and sing and write music with my mates. It’s the journey for me. I love it.
EP: You came to England to study music and had some good initial success with the duo DrewXHill formed with fellow musician, Phillip Hill, but you decided to go your separate ways, take a break and almost go back to base by moving back to Denmark. This was a hugely brave move. Did you think you were moving in the wrong direction at that point and needed to regroup?
DS: I still believe we had some really good stuff going on. We are actually still a band, we have never broken up. We still talk of making some stuff again at some point but I’m a bit busy at the moment, haha. I think however that I was in a very different place back when we started the band. I made a lot of my moves in fear. And mostly in fear of being discovered as a fraud or someone who didn’t have any real talent. I hid behind Philipp a lot so it was good for me to step out of the shadows and into my own. It was mega scary at the time and I didn’t feel brave at all but I was driven by not missing out of trying to follow my dream about music. So to answer your question, I think regrouping was essential for me at that time in my life after my mothers passing but I am very proud of what Phil and I did.
EP: How did that affect your musical direction at that point? It was almost like starting again…
DS: It was totally like starting again. It was infinitely daunting to sit there in my dad’s house late at night, and everyone had gone to bed and I was there alone with my thoughts and dreams and didn’t feel like I had anything to show for it. That wasn’t entirely true but the feeling was there. That time taught me that I am not what I do and I am not worth something because of my success or my achievements. I am always worthy because I am and I breathe and that was important for me to start believing. I knew I had longed for more writing and singing, as that hadn’t been the focus in Drew Hill. That all started coming out involuntarily in the time shortly after I had moved back to Denmark. I say involuntarily because I didn’t mean to write anything, I just sort of did and those were the songs that I started my solo career with.
EP: You kickstarted things for yourself in a pretty gutsy way with your email strategy. Tell me about that.
DS: Haha. Yessss, I totally nailed that part. So, the songs I had written in the moonlight on my fathers farm turned out to sound not entirely shite which led me to find every email I could find on anyone having anything remotely to do with the music industry. I then sent them all an email totally blagging my way in. I would write stuff like, ‘Hey Tom, I got your email from James (insert a good name, such as James, because everyone knows a James) just sending you my first ep that you might like bla bla’. Haha. I was so casual and cocky in my approach and I almost can’t believe it worked. A month later I was on tour with Alex Vargas around Denmark. What a time. It all happened so fast. Had meetings with all the record labels in no time. I definitely feel like the universe had my back, and still has to be honest. It’s magical.
EP: So from there you recorded and released the excellent album ‘Brutal’, which has seen some real critical acclaim but a lyric that stuck out for was ‘I’m 28 and counting’. Are you worried that time is passing you by?
DS: I shouldn’t be, should I? Time doesn’t exist. But our culture has an issue with time. We are in a constant hurry to get places and do stuff for the sake of reaching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I was 28 but felt like I was nowhere near where I was expected to be. That song was so therapeutic for me to write. I was judging myself hard and had succumbed to the notion of ageism in our culture. I was a 28-year-old pop star who had only just released my debut album. I was so done with apologising for myself and I wanted to just carve out that space for me and anyone else who might have felt like that. I discovered that apparently A LOT of other people felt like that and not only people age 28. Everyone felt the pressure. Now I don’t feel like that anymore but I do sometimes get caught up in the youth obsession. Then I think about Linda Perry and how she is the biggest badass on the planet and then I take a few long strides towards that energy in my life and feel infinitely more powerful and awesome. Having some strong people to inspire you is important and I really hope someone someday will find that I could do that for them.
EP: With that in mind you’ve had some good success in Denmark with new singles ‘Take It Back’ and ‘ I Wanna Be Dancing’ and an excellent new single ‘45 Fahrenheit Girl’ which has a great ear-worm and a cool, if scary, video. What’s the feel of your new material? It feels to me like everything has come together in these new tracks. My favourites are ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and ‘Crying Wolf’.
DS: I love that you’ve picked ‘Call Me By Your Name’ as a fave. Thank you. The new record was written in the space of 6 weeks over the course of the summer last year. I think it feels a bit more together than my first record did. I turned every word on Brutal and was perhaps a bit obsessive about it whereas my ‘Sycamore’ album radiates a bit more freedom and lightness. I am a sucker for a heartbreaking melody but I let it happen a bit more as it came to me, if that makes sense. I all started with a song I write about the ancient Egyptian pharaohs being aliens that led me to dive into a lot of theoretical physics and pixel theory. In that pretty spaced out journey for me a lot of really interesting artwork happened and I like to start the album journey there, in the visual. The triangle is a thread that goes all the way from pixel theory to the holy trinity. Not that it necessarily would make sense to anyone beyond my own crunched up brain cells but it might give a little insight to my creative journey.
EP: With a new album in May, will we be lucky enough to catch you live in the UK at all when things start to normalise. If not, how can people stay in touch with your music?
DS: Coming to the UK is a major goal on my bucket list! I will be back as soon as life on planet earth allows us to safely travel again. I can’t wait. First things first, I will be buying some jammy dodgers and some salt and vinegar crisps and go to the nearest Spudulike. I miss the UK like crazy! Until then, follow me on my Instagram @DrewSycamore and send me some virtual baked potato love.
EP: Thank you so much for your wonderful music and taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck.