HATC | 15/07/2021
We caught up with Wrabel over zoom to talk about his upcoming debut album. Having worked with some of the greats, Ellie Goulding and Kesha over the past 10 years, P!nk calling him “one of the greatest singers and songwriters alive today” there is no question he has set the bar high for “These words are all for you”.
HATC: How have you found writing your debut album, has it been a cathartic process for you?
Wrabel: Writing is always cathartic for me, sometimes I even feel limited by the fact that I only know how to write a true story. I’m not so good at coming up with a character, I hear songs and stuff on the radio, I’m like, wow, I wish I could write like that. For me, it does come from life experiences. Pretty much, every song on this record is a page out of my diary and it’s so amazing. For me, it is a very cathartic thing. Sometimes I feel like I can write a song better than I can have a conversation. I have a great therapist who’s helped me. But you know, sometimes I think writing is the best outlet personally. I always hope that my music connects with people and that people feel, that if I share some of my deepest, darkest times maybe some of their deepest, darkest, may feel a little less dark.
HATC: You’ve worked with incredible names like Kesha. Pink literally said you are one of the greatest singer-songwriters. How do you feel those experiences have shaped you?
Wrabel: Me, my mom and, my grandma were in North Carolina and my mum brought that up and was like, What does that feel like to hear that said about you? Pink is one of the best singers songwriters alive. I think we can all we all agree on that. I was like, I don’t even know. It’s just unbelievable. It’s not even one of the things that you dream about. It’s kind of the things that you dream about dreaming about. It’s a dream within a dream. I can only speak for myself but she’s shown me so much of what it means to be an artist, a creator and what it means to love your fans and to dedicate yourself to something larger than yourself. I think she is 100%, no ego, she’s in it for the most beautiful reasons. And she cares so deeply about everyone that’s listening.
HATC: The album comes from a very personal place, with tracks being not only recent but the oldest having been written 8 years ago.
Wrabel: Releasing a record has been my dream from day one. I feel so lucky to have had some of the opportunities I’ve had, I’ve gotten to work with two major labels and incredible artists. Hearing myself on the radio for the first, second and third time, was mad, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of hearing. But kind of as the umbrella dream, I’ve always wanted to put out a record. I had made a record about eight years ago. The record was called, These words are all for you. And that I’ve kept. I’ve written quite literally 1000’s of songs in the past eight, nine years, and so finding and keeping those special moments was important. I tried to set the bar high with Winston who executive produced this with me. We set the bar at goosebumps. And if a song didn’t give us goosebumps, then it wasn’t right for this.
It’s my first record, I’ve waited and worked so long on this, and I wanted it to feel right. We did it all based on gut feeling and when the hairs on your arm stand on end.
HATC: Did you feel previous tracks were still very relevant to your life?
Wrabel: I remember every day, each song was a really special day. Going independent and partnering with a Nettwerk has given me huge joy, although it sounds cliche as an artist, I can do whatever I want. It’s is true. That’s been something that I was scared of for a long time.
As I went independent I was in a treatment facility getting sober. One of my managers came to visit me and told me we’re leaving the label. And I was like, well, like, sign me up for another month. Because I’m staying in here now. I was scared, I felt like I was losing, a support system and a machine that was behind me. It feels different now, I feel empowered and being able to make a record and not be scared of mid-tempos and ballads and small moments. There’s literally a song on there that’s like, basically a glorified voice note. I’ve worked on this album for, eight years, it’s changed shape and form and meaning so much. In hindsight, I’m really happy with everything that’s happened, I’m happy that I didn’t put out the first record that I made because it was a sad record. This album is so helpful, I think it’s more grown-up, and it’s a little deeper. I think it has roots more now than it did back.
HATC: We aren’t surprised the album took a different direction, finding sobriety must have had an impact on what you felt you wanted and what you needed.
Wrabel: When I was first getting sober, I don’t think I was ready to be in control of anything, not even my day. It did feel like the rug was pulled out from underneath me, I felt like I was just treading water desperately trying to get myself back on dry land. Sitting in my apartment the past year I spent a lot of time just having so much time to think and overthink. I was sitting on this record and I felt I could see what was missing. I was missing a love song and I’m very much in love and I wanted to express that.
Wrabel’s album is a true labour of love, with intentions to help others find moments of escapism and the hope of minimising even for a moment the darkness we feel.
You can hear his labour of love from the 24th of September via Big Gay Records/Nettwerk, on all major platforms.
Photography: Yazz Alali