Photo: Katia Temkin
How Hailee Steinfeld Is "Entering A New Space" & Paying Tribute To California With Her Next Project
After a two-year hiatus, Hailee Steinfeld released "Coast," her new single that is just the beginning of a musical — and visual — experience inspired by her California upbringing.
Hailee Steinfeld has given fans plenty of opportunities to appreciate her acting in the last couple of years, from playing iconic poet Emily Dickinson in Apple TV's "Dickinson" to stepping into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the lead in Disney+ miniseries "Hawkeye." At the same time, fans of Steinfeld as a singer/songwriter have been left eagerly anticipating new music — but that wait is over.
At the end of July, Steinfeld released "Coast," a breezy track inspired by the star's home state of California and featuring a blistering guest verse from fellow Cali native Anderson .Paak. Of course, Steinfeld is no stranger to musical success and killer collaborations: she's put out two EPs (2016's Haiz and 2020's Half Written Story) and worked with artists like Grey and Zedd (2016's "Starving") and Alesso, Florida Georgia Line and watt (2017's "Let Me Go").
This time around, Steinfeld realized she wanted to take more time on her music — hence her two-year musical hiatus. Captivated by love for her home and the music she grew up on, she decided to more deliberately craft a world around her new project. This new universe served as a template that she could fully pour herself into in order to give fans of her music the fullest, most authentic view of herself that she possibly could.
"I feel like I'm entering a new space with my music that I've never been in before," Steinfeld tells GRAMMY.com. "This is really the first time I've been able to build a proper world that I cannot wait for."
Shortly after the release of "Coast," GRAMMY.com spoke with Steinfeld to discuss the origins of the track, crafting an entire aesthetic around her new music, and her favorite parts of artistic creation.
This is your first release in two years. At what point did "Coast" start to form?
"Coast" was actually one of the first records we worked on when I set out to start this project, which was about two years ago, which is so wild to think about. And then obviously, it was the start of the evolution of what the project has turned into.
It's so amazing when you end up where you started. You have this initial idea and vision and excitement around all of that, and then it goes off into all these different territories, and then you bring it back. This is how it all happened with me, we came back to where we started.
It's so exciting to me, just the evolution of this song alone. Getting Anderson .Paak on it honestly right before putting it out. It's been a wild ride.
Talk me through the process of getting Anderson .Paak on the track. What was it like getting to work with him?
Him and I became friends, and I remember sending him this record. He wrote me back so fast that I didn't even think he'd listened to the whole thing [Laughs].
We saw each other a few weeks later, and he brought it up — and sure enough, we found ourselves in the studio together. It occurred to me that I had done this whole project via the internet — with all of us in separate parts of the world — so being in the studio with Andy was really the first time I was in a room with people in years.
Being in the studio with Anderson .Paak felt like why you fall in love with making music in the first place. It was just the most incredible thing to see somebody that I have so much admiration and respect for as an artist bring something that I already felt so connected to and passionate about to a whole different level. It was something I'll never forget.
Over the years you've been able to collaborate with a number of other incredible artists. What's your mindset going into these collaborations?
It's so amazing to watch people in their element — watch their process, watch how they immerse themselves into the work that they're doing. And you're right, I've had the honor and the privilege of working with so many incredible people — [and they're all people who] don't work on whatever it is they're doing unless they believe in it, and unless they care so much about it.
It took me a minute to get over that part with Andy, finding myself in this situation [where] he loved this record enough to want to be a part of it and want to support it beyond just jumping on it. But seeing him, it's incredible. He also did it so fast, and then watching him record it — first of all, he makes it look so easy. To get that entire verse in one breath is like, near impossible. I am trying to master it myself. It's not going so well [Laughs].
He really is just a true artist. And there's always substance — there's always meaning in everything he does, every lyric he writes. I am so lucky that I was able to witness that in the room.
Photo: Katia Temkin
Across your music career you've incorporated a wide array of genres under the pop umbrella — like "Coast," which incorporates groovy '70s vibes. What inspires you when you're writing music?
I feel like I finally got the chance to allow myself to be inspired by the music that I grew up listening to. It's only ever been in the background of my life. I am obsessed with pop music — for as long as I've been making music, my favorite playlists are pop playlists. I was very inspired by that, and I wanted to make records that felt like what I was inspired by [back] then.
All of it was moving so quickly, and it was working in a way that I kept on in that specific direction. And this time around, I was able to go back and dig a little bit deeper into why I love music in the first place — what has influenced me and inspired me to make it. And that [included] artists and groups [whose influence] you wouldn't necessarily hear on music I've done in the past.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I started listening to a ton of old music. It's amazing how there's old music that gave you life, it gave you this energy, it makes you feel so great. I had just finished working on Half Written Story, where I was very clearly going through something. I had a very clear intention with how I was writing and what I wanted to get across, and it was an array of emotions from frustrated and sad and confused and lonely. I had done that within four songs and I was like, "I got that off my chest. I want to make music that feels good — I want to make music that has that groove, that gives you that life and that energy that I get when I listen to the Beach Boys, when I listen to the Eagles."
It's a wide and eclectic group of musicians, artists, and songs that I realized that inspired me so much growing up, but I was able to pull all of that into "Coast" and into the records to come.
All of that music feels so alive because it was made live in the studio. How did you capture that same feeling on "Coast"?
It's funny, because I recorded the majority of this at my house in Malibu. I moved all of my guest room furniture into my brother's house — and thank you to my brother who is still housing that furniture [Laughs] — so that I could build this little makeshift studio.
Malibu is a place that I spent most of my summers as a kid,and it's in my backyard [now]. To go there whenever and as much as I can, and to feel that energy was incredible.
But when it came to actually having to record — and not have trash trucks and gardeners in the background of my self-cut vocals — I re-recorded some of the records at EastWest in the same room that [the Beach Boys'] Pet Sounds was recorded in. You're in there and all you can think about is where they sat, where they stood, and what they were thinking in that moment. It was so alive and the feeling is so there.I really felt like a lot of that came through with this, and with everything to come.
You've said that your acting and music careers inform each other. As you've been writing this very personal music, you've also been acting in Dickinson and Hawkeye. How have those parts of your career continued to interact?
As I've gotten older, I've just become more self-aware, or aware of opening myself up to being inspired by more than what I originally thought I could be inspired by. I've had so many full-circle moments where my acting career and what I've learned through it all — and through the characters that I've played, more specifically, and through the writing that I've been lucky enough to take on as a character — has definitely influenced me as an artist. And in more than one way.
In the writing, 100 percent. I've said this before — after years of playing a very fearless, fearlessly known poet, I went back into the studio and felt this sense of "nobody has to see any of this if I don't want them to, but that shouldn't stop me, so therefore it shouldn't be stopped in writing everything and more." And the exciting part is, at the end of the day, it's all coming out. There isn't really anything that's being held back.
Speaking of playing some of these roles for years — as we talked about earlier, "Coast" is your first music in a long time. How much of that break was planned, as opposed to your life and career naturally taking you in another direction?
It was a little bit of all of it. Obviously, life took us all for kind of a ride these last few years. That definitely played a part in taking a step back for myself mentally, first and foremost. And I'm grateful that I was able to use that time in a way I was able to stay inspired and motivated to create. It wasn't easy.
I'm still so blown away by what I was able to accomplish, that we — I should say, the team that I worked on the record with — were able to get this done having never been in a room together.
[When] I put out Half Written Story, it was part one of two. And I basically had two not completed, but it was close. I say it was close, but [the songs] needed time. They needed more time than I had been giving. So I made the decision to move on from that and move into this bigger project. I got out of my system what I felt I really needed to with part one, and I was ready to move on from it. [This next project has a] much bigger picture and something I'm even more excited about.
Taking that approach sounds like it allows you to really view these things as time capsules of sorts, to capture who you were and what you were feeling in these moments.
Totally. I've always felt that way about my acting career. Although they're not direct insight into my exact life at that moment, I feel like everything I've done has represented that time in my life and something that I was going through — to have related enough to take it on and be able to immerse myself fully into everything that I've done.
I'm happy that my music is that way as well. I mean, it's so personal. And it definitely is extremely representative of who I am and who I was at that time. That's the exciting part about being an artist, and evolving, and having an incredible family of fans that are growing with me. I feel like I'm entering a new space with my music that I've never been in before, and I'm incredibly excited about it.
Something that's noticeable about your releases is that you build an entire aesthetic around them. With "Coast," there's a lot of blue on your Instagram posts — a lot of coastal, beachy clothing and scenery. What goes into building that aesthetic?
This is actually one of my favorite parts. When I decided that Half Written Story was wrapped up after part one and I was going into this new world, everything was [still] so up in the air, as far as the reality of getting in a room with people. So I figured in the meantime, let me build up this world visually and then we can go from there.
The whole record started with the visual side of things, and then we went into ideas and concepts and titles. I'd already had an idea of what I wanted this all to look like, and I knew that would very clearly influence the sound in a way that I could articulate easier than any other way.
I've got floor to ceiling boards just covered — the amount of things I've printed and cut and pasted and pinned and all of that, it's years worth now. Your girl loves a mood board [Laughs].
I was able to create this whole universe, which I've never been able to do with my music. In a way, with the music working so well simultaneously to my acting, I've had these singles that have come out over time. This is really the first time I've been able to build a proper world that I cannot wait for. Everybody's getting a little taste of it with "Coast," but there's so much more where that came from.
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best R&B Performance | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best R&B Performance. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which songs have been nominated for Best R&B Performance.
"Love Again" (Performed by Daniel Caesar & Brandy)
Released in July, "Love Again" is a duet between GRAMMY-winning pop/R&B icon Brandy and GRAMMY winner Daniel Caesar, taken from Caesar's second album Case Study 01. Caesar won Best R&B Performance at the 61st GRAMMY Awards for "Best Part."
"Could've Been" (Performed by H.E.R. Featuring Bryson Tiller)
"Could've Been" was the first and only single taken from H.E.R.'s I Used to Know Her: The Prelude and was later included on the singer's second compilation album, I Used to Know Her. Last year, at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, the perma-shaded artist earned five nominations, including one for Best New Artist. She also won Best R&B Album for her compilation album H.E.R., as well as Best R&B Performance for "Best Part.
"Exactly How I Feel" (Performed by Lizzo Featuring Gucci Mane)
"Exactly How I Feel" shows up on Lizzo's empowering third studio album, Cuz I Love You.
"Vulnerability and strength is what this album is all about," she recently told the Recording Academy in an Up Close & Personal interview.
"When you write these songs you get really excited about them and mind you, I had a song like 'Juice' just under my armpit in the darkness and nobody knew what it sounded like," the singer continued. "Or keeping it a secret that I had Missy Elliott on a song, at that point you just want to explode and when the album was out, I was so excited to just share the songs with people and the world."
"Roll Some Mo" (Performed by Lucky Daye)
The New Orleans R&B singer's first single "Roll Some Mo" is taken from his debut album, Painted, which dropped in May.
"Come Home" (Performed by Anderson .Paak Featuring André 3000)
GRAMMY winner Anderson .Paak brought former OutKast member André 3000 on the opener to his fourth studio album, Ventura, which came out last April.
Photo: Michael Bezjian/Getty Images
Raphael Saadiq, Jhene Aiko Join Anderson .Paak's Foundation Concert
The GRAMMY nominee hosted the inaugural community-based event in Los Angeles on Dec. 2 to support youth
For those in town on Dec. 2, .Paak made it all happen at McArthur Park in Los Angeles with his inaugural Paak House event, a community-organized afternoon that included not only performances but also food, games and giveaways. The event drew around 1,500 people.
Produced in partnership with his Brandon Anderson Foundation, which caters to underserved communities through financial literacy, music and spiritual wellness, the GRAMMY nominee said the Paak House event serves as a way to create safe places within the community for young people to hang out.
"With my Brandon Anderson Foundation, Paak House was the first initiative. I wanted to eventually have a spot where kids can go and be themselves. Learn about music, spiritual growth, good eating habits, kind of like the boys and girls club," .Paak told Billboard. "I wanted to do something that would kick this off so I wanted to team up with other organizations in the community and do it together for the first event with all of the awesome acts as well."
Photo: Tehillah De Castro
Meet DOMi & JD Beck, The First Signees To Anderson .Paak's New Label, APESHIT
The first musicians to sign to Anderson .Paak’s new label are taking both the jazz and hip-hop worlds by storm with their stylistic diversity. At 22 and 19, they're also among a new generation of jazz lovers.
The Jazz Age is almost a century gone, yet a new generation of jazz virtuosos are proving that the genre is as relevant as ever.
DOMi & JD BECK's debut album, NOT TiGHT, is a rapid fire coalescence of keys and drums that is both studied and incredibly contemporary. At 22 and 19, respectively, Domitille Degalle (keys) and Beck (drums) are bringing a distinct Gen Z attitude and awareness into the world of jazz and its environs.
"We just do what we do and we have fun doing it," the band tells GRAMMY.com via email.
The two have been playing together since 2018. In that time, they've served as a backing band for Thundercat (with an occasional guest appearance from Ariana Grande) and have performed on sessions for celebrated instrument manufacturers like Nord and Zildjian. Now, Domi and Beck are the first signees to Anderson .Paak’s new label, APESHIT, an imprint of the paragon jazz outfit Blue Note.
Such endorsements demonstrate the duo's stylistic diversity — an uncanny ability to hop between J Dilla-esque grooves (Beck spent many years practicing Dilla beats) and bebop-velocity runs at unconventional meters like 7/8, even when vocalists like Mac Demarco and .Paak are singing.
Reaching this adept point took a journey for Domi and Beck, both individually and side-by-side. That journey began for both at a very young age.
Domi was born in Metz, France and by age five was studying music at Conservatoire Régional du Grand Nancy. She then went on to Conservatoire de Paris followed by Berklee College of Music in Boston where she graduated in 2020. Domi first began playing drums at the age 2 before switching to keys at 3 years old.
"I would love to be crazy on drums. But I guess I don’t need to anymore, since I have JD!" she tells GRAMMY.com.
Beck also started lessons around the age of five, enrolling in various music programs throughout his preteen years around his hometown of Dallas. By 10, Beck was playing with Cleon Edwards of Erykah Badu’s band, and Robert "Sput" Searight of Snarky Puppy was his mentor.
Around the same time, Searight discovered Domi via social media videos filmed by her peers at Berklee (some of which now have hundreds of thousands of views). In 2018, Searight invited her and Beck to play a jam session at the NAMM show in Anaheim.
The musical bond was there from the start, and soon after Domi joined Beck in Dallas to play Badu’s birthday followed by a few days of jamming. Of course, those jams were posted to Instagram, and with their sudden and massive increase in followers (one of which was Anderson .Paak) they became DOMi & JD Beck.
But grabbing and keeping the internet’s attention in the present era requires more than sheer talent. That’s where their short and sometimes vulgar meme-ready sense of humor comes in, and it touches everything from their social media to their website.
Each song from NOT TiGHT has its own post on Instagram with a visual animation from their whimsically colored photoshoot, and within each caption lives some dank-meme content. In the post for track 14, entitled "SNiFF," they share that the original title was "u can sniff my butt." The post for "TAKE A CHANCE" with .Paak only gets the caption "bunch of s—."
Domi and Beck’s website expands upon this jejune approach with a narrative that is equal parts confusing, intriguing and hilarious.
Apparently, Domi is a saxophone prodigy and the only living theoretical physicist. Beck is a sheep investigator who has devoted his life to smooth jazz, and together they hosted bodybuilding masterclasses on TikTok back in 2018.
It’s not difficult to discern the intentional inaccuracies among these statements, but every word is authentic to Domi and Beck’s uproarious give-and-take.
"Most music isn’t about music anymore. It’s just used as a tool for money and selling bulls—. Hopefully we can help change that," the band says. "It’s also fun reading all the social media debates arguing into which genre or style we should be categorized! It’s very entertaining."
If people are arguing about their music on social media, the internet generation is clearly on board. The album feeds those genre-debates with its wide-ranging aural palette.
Much of NOT TiGHT is pure instrumentalism, demonstrating the high-speed chemistry that Domi and Beck have shared for years. On "SPACE MOUNTAiN," it feels as if the two are trying to literally trade off sixteenth-note hits of drums and and keys. It's a classic call-and-response format, performed at the fastest and most micro level possible.
With .Paak and Blue Note on their team, Domi and Beck also enjoy collaborators such as jazz legend Herbie Hancock — a standout entry whose 60-year age difference is inconsequential on "MOON." Domi clearly doesn’t mind passing off some piano-time to Hancock, and the three maintain an uptempo barrage of rhythms and beats that will have jazz students and veterans transcribing for years to come.
The elevated status of their guest artists doesn’t prevent a musical equilibrium from taking form; the features evoke the feeling of a hang. "Just vibes" as people their age might say on social media.
Rather, Domi and Beck create space for the vocalists, using their experience serving as a rhythm section for Thundercat to implement restraint without sacrificing sophistication. While Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes harbor completely different styles of flow, they align on "PiLOT." The veterans take direction from Domi and Beck, providing their lyrical input to the duo’s sonic vision.
That dynamic shifts slightly when it’s .Paak’s turn to sing and rap. In those moments it feels more like .Paak is a member of the group as opposed to a featured artist, which makes sense given the hands-on approach he’s taken with Domi, Beck and NOT TiGHT.
.Paak directed the music video for "TAKE A CHANCE", which the three of them performed live together on "Jimmy Kimmel." .Paak also gave them songwriting credits on the roll-bounce funk tune "Skate" for his GRAMMY-winning project with Bruno Mars, Silk Sonic, the bones of which were an instrumental from Domi and Beck.
"He really believes in us, which is the coolest s— ever," Beck told Okayplayer in August of 2022.
Domi and Beck first met .Paak (whom they refer to as "Andy") in 2019 when they were playing a gig as a part of Thundercat’s band in New Orleans. The three of them remained connected and before long they were working together on NOT TiGHT.
Throughout the process working with .Paak, Domi and Beck never felt discouraged from being authentic in their music and personalities.
"We never dealt with pressure from Andy or the label," they say. "The only pressure we really dealt with was fans always commenting and messaging us, 'Release the album or I will come to your house and murder your family,' but that motivated us to work as much as possible and stay on track."
One hundred years after the Jazz Age the passion for this music remains. Death threats over social media may be Gen Z’s way of expressing it, but Domi and Beck know the best way to respond is to give even more authentic love to the music:
"We’ll always try to write the best song that we possibly can. If it’s going to be impossible to play live, well,s—; we’ll try."
Photo: Kevin Winger/Getty Images
Kesha, Ed Sheeran, SZA & More To Honor Elton John In GRAMMY Salute
Tune in to CBS on April 10 to catch "Elton John: I'm Still Standing — A GRAMMY Salute" featuring an all-star tribute plus special performance of a medley of hits from John himself
How do you celebrate a career as illustrious as that of the great Elton John? With a star-studded concert, of course. "Elton John: I'm Still Standing — A GRAMMY Salute" will air April 10 on CBS and features performances by some of music's biggest names, including Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and SZA.
Musicians from multiple genres will perform classic songs from John's impressive catalog with longtime co-writer Bernie Taupin. Additionally, there will be special appearances by Jon Batiste, Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Jackson, Anna Kendrick, Gayle King, Lucy Liu, Valerie Simpson, and Hailee Steinfeld.
The festivities will culminate with a medley of hits performed by John himself, culminating with the event's title song, "I'm Still Standing" from John's 1983 album, Too Low For Zero.
Here is the full list of performances:
"The Bitch Is Back" — Miley Cyrus
"Candle In The Wind" — Ed Sheeran
"Daniel" — Sam Smith
"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" — Alessia Cara
"Your Song" — Lady Gaga
"Rocket Man" — Little Big Town
"Border Song" — Christopher Jackson & Valerie Simpson
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" — SZA & Shawn Mendes
"Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" — Maren Morris
"We All Fall In Love Sometimes" — Chris Martin
"My Father's Gun" — Miranda Lambert
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" — Kesha
"Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" — John Legend
"Bennie And The Jets" — Elton John
"Philadelphia Freedom" — Elton John
"I'm Still Standing" — Elton John & Ensemble
"Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute," continues the tradition of previous Emmy-winning TV specials presented by CBS, the Recording Academy, and AEG Ehrlich Ventures, including "Sinatra 100 — An All-Star GRAMMY Concert," "Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life — An All-Star GRAMMY Salute," "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A GRAMMY Salute" and "Stayin' Alive: A GRAMMY Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees."
Tune in April 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT for this two-hour concert special, only on CBS.