Oh, god – yeah, I do. It was called “The Sun” or something like that, I think I was 14 or 15 when I wrote it. It was for sure a complete ripoff of a song called “Trailer Trash” by Modest Mouse. I remember trying to record a version of it in Garageband, of which is there fortunately zero trace whatsoever…
Why do you have such an obsession with bears? What significance do they hold for you personally?
Haha… Well, mainly because they’re just so sweet. Look up “Polite Bear Waves Hello” on YouTube – I mean, come on. They’re these creatures that are supposed to be big and terrifying but they have an incredibly soft side to them as well. I think we should all strive to be more bear-like.
Who are your biggest influences and why?
Bon Iver is an all-time influence for me, in terms of how I sing as well as certain aspects of songwriting. But Frank Ocean has become a favorite of mine (and let’s be real, pretty much everyone) over the last few years – everything about his work is so effortlessly synergistic, like the way he writes is perfectly suited for the way he sings, which is perfectly suited to the beats he uses, and his visual brand… Every part of him works in perfect balance with everything else, which is just a sign of an artist who at their core is as real a version of themselves as possible. Zero BS or compensation.
Why did you feel so compelled to reinvent yourself as an artist?
Well, that’s an essential part of being an artist, isn’t it? Growth, development. If you’re not continually trying to make a better version of yourself, refining your message and the way it’s delivered, then what’s the point of making new art? That’s why I admire Miley Cyrus: she’s so thoroughly reinvented herself so many times, more than probably anyone right now. Every new version of her is something new, which as a fan is super exciting.
Talk about your new song, “Trust.”
I think “Trust” is my favorite song I’ve ever written. I first wrote it probably three years ago, right after a gnarly breakup that turned out to be a real wakeup call for me. I kept feeling like I had to edit myself into a version that would work for this other person, when really our arrangement was pretty bad for both of us. It took me so long to see that, but when I did – that’s that moment after the second chorus, the first “I don’t need that shit in my life anymore” – that moment of realization like coming up for air after being underwater for five years, where you can hear everything properly and you finally know which way is up.
The song is about picking yourself back up after being broken down. Have you been broken down in your past? How did you overcome it?
Absolutely. I’ve been really lucky to have such incredible and supportive friends, and we all know we can lean on each other when we need to. My instinct, and I think a lotta people’s instinct, is to retreat and want to be alone. I think a certain degree of that is essential in getting over any hurdle life throws at you. It’s just about balancing that solitude, that introspection with being around the people you know got your back.
What was behind your decision to refocus your music on a brand of clear, focused storytelling?
In my older music, I felt like I had to hide behind overly flowery and poetic lyrics, like I was afraid of saying what I really wanted to say. To the point where there was no clarity, where nobody except for me knew what the fuck I was talking about in any of my songs. Like I said above – that’s the edited-down version of me, scared and trying to fit in with this other person. That’s why Trust is such a breakthrough song for me, cause it’s the first song I wrote where I’m straight-up being honest and saying what needs to be said.
Tell us about your EP! What did you learn in the process of making it?
Man, I had an absolute blast making the EP. It’s called Distance, and I made it with a fantastic producer named Jeremy McDonald at a studio in Brooklyn called Mason Jar Music. They’ve got such an incredible array of gear there, and their analog approach to recording felt so wonderful and organic after years of making music inside a computer. I learned a lot from Jeremy – I think the biggest thing I took away from watching him work is to not over-clutter your arrangements by adding too many instruments. It’s chill to just let enough be enough, yno? Anyway – Distance is out now!
Is there a story that you would like to tell through your music but haven’t got an opportunity to do so yet?
That’s an interesting question… Well, most of my songs are love-songs, which I am definitely dying to branch out of. I mean there are tons of things – the internet, politics, mental illness – that dictate our lives in every way. I don’t know that I feel compelled to commentate everything but I’m always trying to explore and see what good my voice can be used for.
Read more Music Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Ursae Empowers and Reinvents Himself in New Single, “Trust” and New EP, “Distance.” Photo Credit: Jake Ludwig.