The immensely talented musician and director of the Emmy award-nominated film, 'In The Cold Dark Night,' Now Ex has recently unveiled his debut EP, titled 'Sad Kids In America,' a collection of six exceptional original tracks. This EP represents a timely and highly necessary anthem for the disillusioned youth of contemporary America. With a sophisticated blend of triumphant orchestral instruments and his soulful and rich vocals that feature on the EP, he is certainly one of watch out for throughout 2022. His EP is additionally very vulnerable in its nature and makes for a phenomenal listen.
Here at The Lowdown, we had the chance to speak with Now Ex about his debut EP, the importance of him being involved in the creative aspect of his music videos, his plans for 2022 and much more. Keep reading to check out what he had to say!
You have recently released your debut EP, 'Sad Kids In America.' How does it feel for you to have your own music released?
"I think every artist knows that weird and wonderful moment when something you've spent months, if not years, obsessing about, is finally out there in the open. These songs mean a lot to me. I'm really glad people can finally hear them and live with them, whilst the obsession on my part moves seamlessly onto the next EP!"
How long did the EP take to come together, right from the initial writing stages?
"The EP is sort of a collage of songs written over a time span of about nine months, aside from a song called 'Is This Enough,' which I wrote a couple of years ago and seemingly passed the test of time. I'm writing a lot of music these days, so it can be really quite difficult to choose what's going to make it on to a record and what isn't, but who knows, maybe the ones that aren't right for a record now will be down the track - one can only hope!"
All tracks on the EP inevitably have a special meaning, but is there any one track that stands out for you in particular?
"The title track, 'Sad Kids In America,' is really special to me. It was written about some very important people in my life who have been through a lot over a long time. I'd like to think it captures something very human and honest. True honesty in song-writing is very difficult, at least for me. I think the journey so many writers are going through is a sort of life-long battle against yourself to be truly honest and open. The really good ones can then package that up in some sort of universally accessible and relatable way, so it doesn't just mean something to you. Finding your own unique way of doing that is what separates great art from the rest, as far as I can tell, and I'm striving to some day truly achieve that."
Do you have any sort of message that you want listeners to take away from your EP?
"It's so hard to say, because music means different things to everyone who listens to it. I think I hoped to make a record that would inspire all sorts of different feelings and resolutions, depending who hears it and on their own circumstances. For me, it's a reminder to be unapologetically who I am, and to not be scared to ask for help when you need it. If it has the same or similar effect on others, that's why you do it, isn't it?"
For anyone who hasn't had a chance to listen to the EP yet, can you sum it up in a couple of words?
"Cinematic-electro-pop-musing-on-our-perpetual-abuse-of-love-booze-and-time (managed it in only one word!)."
You have directed and produced some stunning music videos. How important is it for you to be involved in this creative aspect of your music?
"I've been lucky enough to get to direct some films in the last few years, both short-form pieces like music videos, and feature-format projects, in the form of a couple of documentaries. Weirdly, film was never part of my 'plan' as a kid. I didn't pick up a DSLR until I was at university. But somehow, I fell into it head first. It became my entry point into the entertainment world in a really unusual and quite exciting way. The last feature documentary I directed was recently nominated for an Emmy award, which is quite a thing to get your head around when film-making wasn't even a part of my life a couple of years earlier. It's been a huge help to what I'm trying to do with Now Ex. I guess we live in a multi-disciplinary, cross-platform entertainment and art landscape. The artists who are having the most cultural impact in my opinion are breaking boundaries across multiple art forms. I've tried to use my film-making experience to bring something unique to Now Ex and the visuals that accompany the music. I hope over time, as we grow, we'll be able to raise that bar continually, and collaborate with more and more amazing creators and friends."
Going back to your roots, how did you first get into music? Is it always something that you have had a passion for and wanted to be involved in?
"I had quite an unusual start in the music world. When I was six, my Mum somehow decided that I had a good singing voice and that we should go see someone to confirm whether this was true, which we did. There began years of being immersed in the classical music world, I guess somewhat culminating in a season as a soloist in the Royal Opera in 2013, an experience I'm trying to capture in a new feature film I'm directing. Sometimes people describe my voice as having an operatic quality to it. I think it comes from those years of classical performing and touring. The classical world, whilst not my eventual home, was really good to me and it opened a lot of doors as a kid, getting scholarships to good schools to sing and all sorts. I think Now Ex would not be what it is without that classical grounding, so I'm really grateful to that experience and all the people who made it possible for me growing up. But I always had pop projects, since I was maybe fourteen, alongside all that, and I always knew it was where my heart really was!"
Who would you say you derive musical inspiration from?
"How long do you have? To list a few: Bright Eyes, Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, The Cure, The National, Bon Iver, The 1975 and James Blake."
What does 2022 have in store for you that you can tell us about?
"Lots of shows! It's the one part we've been starved of due to the pandemic. I miss it like hell! We got to headline the O2 Academy Islington back in October, which was an incredible night, and I can't wait to do it again! We also released an acoustic version of 'Sad Kids In America' that came out in February, an exciting cover song shortly after that, and then a bunch of new songs, followed by an EP later in the year. There's lots to come!"
Finally, do you have a message for all those who support you?
"You lot are my motivation every day to keep doing this, and the idea of creating music that brings more people together at a time when everything feels so fractured really is a special thing to get to attempt to do. I hope I succeed in that and can keep delivering pop music that in some tiny way makes your days a little bit brighter!"
Now Ex's EP 'Sad Kids In America' is out now and is available to purchase and stream through all major music purchasing and streaming outlets.
By Rachel Dempster