Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images
5 Takeaways From Lana Del Rey's New Album 'Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd'
Navigating grief, sex and identity with harrowing depth, Lana Del Rey bares her soul in 'Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.' Here are five takeaways from her scintillating 77-minute record.
Lana Del Rey is "straight vibing." At least, that's how she approached creating her profound ninth studio album, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. Rather than tapping into the world-building technique she used on Norman F—ing Rockwell!, Del Rey's latest work feels more natural and personal.
On Did You Know, Del Rey's dreamy alternative pop drifts from saccharine to unearthly, her tracks tangling together in curious harmony. Her voice reverberates often, as if she's actually traveling through the now-hidden Jergins Tunnel under Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach — yet, unlike its titular inspiration, her album is anything but hollow.
A painstaking honesty ricochets throughout the record as Del Rey unveils familial grief and reflects on the intensity of love in its many forms. A spirituality and self-awareness hover in each mature and intimate track, while the album benefits from a list of collaborators long enough to match her song titles.
In honor of the artist's spectacular new self-portrait and ahead of her headlining sets at Lollapalooza and Outside Lands, here are five key takeaways from Lana Del Rey's Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.
She Pays Homage To Her Family
While some of Del Rey's most well-known songs unravel romantic fantasies, familial relationships are the linchpin of Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.
Del Rey longs for intergenerational connection on her track "Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing," its title taken from the chorus. Contrasting a domestic closeness with the vastness of the Pacific, the singer/songwriter offers a spark of comforting warmth.
The musician, born Elizabeth Grant, also honors her family name by opening the album with "The Grants." Inspired by John Denver's 1972 "Rocky Mountain High" — specifically, the line "And he lost a friend, but kept the memory" — Del Rey reflects on loving her family now as well as after death. With a heavy heart, the song's tender offering of hope is a masterclass in coping with grief.
"When I was very young I was sort of floored by the fact that my mother and my father and everyone I knew was going to die one day, and myself too," she said in a past interview while promoting Born To Die. "I had a sort of a philosophical crisis. I couldn't believe that we were mortal."
Within this context, Del Rey's deep reflections on death and family on Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd feel weightier. In the interview, she explained how her fear of mortality tended to overshadow her life — but now, in accepting life's transience, she's finding the light.
She Thrives With Tonal Shifts
Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd might be Del Rey's most tonally sporadic album yet, but it works to her advantage. Where Born To Die and Norman F— Rockwell! cling to listeners with cohesion, Del Rey's latest album waxes and wanes.
While the musician is renowned as dream baroque pop royalty, her latest creative ventures dip into other genres. Gospel chimes in on "The Grants," folk weaves its way into the Father John Misty collaboration "Let The Light In," and trap flickers memorably across "Taco Truck x VB" and "Fishtail." (The latter two are produced by Jack Antonoff, Del Rey's close collaborator and friend who remains alt pop's ubiquitous producer.) Elsewhere, idiosyncratic rap verses stand out as the highlights of ambitious single "A&W" and Tommy Genesis' raunchy collaboration "Peppers," interrupting Del Rey's more classic balladry.
The album also boasts the highest number of features of all her records. Jon Batiste, SYML, RIOPY, Father John Misty, Bleachers, Tommy Genesis and Judah Smith all make welcome appearances, adding to the album's distinct tonal shifts with their own styles. Though some moments feel especially jarring — namely, Smith and Batiste's interludes — Del Rey ultimately finds strength in this risk-taking diffusion.
She Weaves In Her Past — Not Just Lyrically, But Sonically
Beyond its lyrical reflections on family and past relationships, the album also peers into Del Rey's sonic past. Pieces of Norman F— Rockwell! reappear in many tracks on Did You Know, bridging her sixth and ninth studio albums with an aural nostalgia.
Fans correctly speculated that Norman F— Rockwell!s iconic "Venice B—" would surface in new track "Taco Truck x VB," and Antonoff's grittier, trumpeting version indeed shimmers through in the song's second half. "A&W" welcomes strings from "Norman F— Rockwell!", and "Candy Necklace" featuring Batiste sweetly references "Cinnamon Girl" (and even calls back to Born To Die's "Radio").
These interpolations exhibit the playful extent of Del Rey's masterful discography. Although her sound is ever-changing, the multifaceted musician can still return to her musical roots in a way that experimentally builds upon her catalog. Her music almost always feels reminiscent and bittersweet, and this album takes this nostalgia to a new, otherworldly level.
She Leans Into Spirituality More Than Ever
Del Rey's music seems to be unfailingly cinematic. Historically, her tragic romantic storytelling enlightens Americana tales with an often glamorous melodrama. With Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Del Rey continues to captivate her audiences, but this record taps into a different form of transcendence — a spiritual one.
Featuring heavy gospel influences, opener "The Grants" sees the musician hold memories of her loved ones close to her heart and into the afterlife. "Do you think about Heaven? Oh-oh, do you think about me?" she asks. "My pastor told me when you leave, all you take/ Oh-oh, is your memory." (Later on "Taco Truck x VB," she shouts, "Never die!").
Del Rey takes a step back for "Judah Smith Interlude," a four-and-a-half-minute-long sermon by pastor Judah Smith, who also appeared on Justin Bieber's 2021 EP Freedom. Though Del Rey and her friends occasionally punctuate the track with snide background remarks, Smith leads the track with abrasive preaching against lust.
While the album strays into darker territory here, Del Rey finds her way back to a somewhat uncharacteristic optimism — on standout "Kintsugi," she sings of thoughts "brought by the sunlight of the spirit to pour into me." Just like that, her radiance returns.
As Always, She Finds Beauty In Brokenness
Del Rey's track "Kintsugi" is named after the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. The artform highlights the beauty in embracing flaws, even underscoring them, and Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd exquisitely champions this notion.
"That's how the light gets in," Del Rey gently repeats in the chorus, the line doubly serving as a nod to the art of kintsugi and Leonard Cohen's "Anthem." As Del Rey learns to nurture the cracks of her broken heart, she learns how to be kinder to herself, how to love herself.
At the end of the track, she reassures herself a final time: "That's how the light gets in/ Then you're golden." She can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Photo: Steve Jennings/WireImage
7 Unforgettable Sets From Outside Lands 2023: Foo Fighters' Special Guests, Lana Del Rey's Return & A Superhero DJ Shaq
The 15th edition of San Francisco’s foggy summer festival brought the musical heat — and lots of wild surprises.
On Aug. 11-13, Outside Lands returned to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the 15th time. The city's premiere multi-day music and food festival attracted approximately 75,000 daily attendees, and promoter Another Planet says that about half of the 225,000 ticket holders live outside the Bay Area.
Though it takes place in the peak of summer, San Francisco in August is relatively cold and nicknamed "Fogust," which may have shocked any of the out of towners who showed up in shorts and barely-there tops.
The mild weather conditions meant that the true heat was left up to the performers to generate, and the more than 90 acts happily delivered. Below, we recount seven of the sets that were worth braving the summer cold to witness.
Shaq Takes Day One Championship
Moonlighting as DJ Diesel, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal apologized for starting his incredibly surprising set a few minutes late.
"Sorry I’m late, I was just hanging with Steph Curry and Draymond Green," he said, name checking the Golden State Warriors’ star players. He laced his banter with basketball metaphors and later brought out Warriors guard Gary Payton II to play Queen’s "We Are The Champions" in the team’s honor.
After dropping jaws by firing up aggressively, atonal EDM beats, he invited the crush of fans to come up on stage and "party with Diesel" one at a time. His set veered from Guns N Roses to Imogen Heap and he has to be the first DJ to call for a "ladies only mosh pit" while playing Aqua’s "Barbie World."
When he threw a young blonde boy on his shoulders and they both pumped their fists in unison, it was everything — and that’s how a superhero DJs.
Janelle Monáe Celebrates The Fam
With a towering stack of Jamaican sound system-styled speakers, giant beach balls, a towel-waisted band and swimsuited dancers, Janelle Monáe brought the sexy "Black Sugar Beach" and "Lipstick Lover" vibes of her new album The Age of Pleasure to the Lands End main stage, which she last graced in 2018.
Monáe has since come out as nonbinary and greatly expanded her fanbase; at Outside Lands, she dedicated her performance to "my community, the LGBTQIA+ community," saying, "I love you so much. To be Black, to be queer, to be nonbinary, to evolve and to have family like you is a blessing."
Monáe’s natural charisma has only gotten sharper over time, and her dance moves are more infused with the quick steps of the Godfather of Soul James Brown and Prince. Her almost Rockettes-level line choreography with her dancers has leveled up as well.
This year’s Outside Lands also saw the debut of the LGBTQIA+-centric Dolores’ stage, which was powered all weekend by local party crews such as Hard French, Fake and Gay and Oasis. A highlight was Reparations, an all-Black drag show hosted by the incomparable Nicki Jizz, San Francisco’s serial Drag Queen of the Year (according to local publication 48 Hills) who wore a large penis hat that she claimed was true to her actual size. The most overtly queer-friendly edition of Outside Lands was something beautiful to continue and build on in the future.
Kendrick Lamar Brings The Friday Night Light
Last seen rapping to a small but rapturous crowd on a secondary stage at Outside Lands in 2015, Kendrick Lamar has grown immeasurably as a recording artist and live performer. Lamar commanded the Lands End stage, closing the festival’s first night with quietly assertive control and grace in a performance that felt like a rightful graduation. This veritable elder statesman slot has been previously held by major acts like Radiohead, Neil Young With Crazy Horse and Paul McCartney.
His 2022 album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers featured prominently in the 21-song set, which included leftfield covers of Pusha T’s "Nosetalgia" and The Weeknd’s "Sidewalks." But Lamar knows that people still want to yell their lungs out to earlier cuts like "Swimming Pools (Drank)," "Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe," "m.A.A.d city," "HUMBLE." and "Alright" and he obliged.
Lana Del Rey Swings Back To Twin Peaks
Flower crowns were all the rage when Lana Del Rey made her Outside Lands debut in 2016 at Twin Peaks, the festival’s second largest stage. A new generation has since discovered the singer’s outsize character and vibe, and as the gates opened on Saturday, giddy groups of teenage girls rushed to park themselves at the edge of that very same stage to catch Del Rey’s big return to Golden Gate Park.
This time, Del Rey’s set included a projection that said "God Bless You San Francisco" and a giant swing woven with flowers that flung her into the air while she sang. Her set spanned her classics, like "Video Games" from 2012’s Born To Die, current hits, such as the title track from this year’s album Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd., and a loving cover of Tammy Wynette’s 1968 country hit "Stand By Your Man."
Though she’s revered as an almost otherworldly figure and was an angelic vision in white, Del Rey doesn’t act untouchable in 2023 — in fact, she literally came down and touched some of those fans who waited all day for her.
Foo Fighters Come Out Crooning
"We’ve gotta fit 28 years into two f—ing hours!" Dave Grohl explained early in the Foo Fighters' set. It was a towering goal that they tackled with consummate ease, reaching back to hits such as "Times Like These" and "The Pretender" and showing the continuum through to recent songs like "Rescue."
After playing a few choice riffs of "Enter Sandman," it would have been less of a surprise to see a member of two-time Outside Lands headliner (and Bay Area natives) Metallica join them on stage than who actually came out for a cameo. After flying in from Argentina, Michael Bublé initially pretended to be a regular audience member before going onstage to sing his hit "Haven’t Met You Yet."
The Foo-Bublé connection is fun and surprising: New drummer Josh Freese has also played for the Canadian crooner, and "Haven’t Met You Yet" is part of a medley that the Foo Fighters are doing on tour that is comprised of other bands Freese has supported (including Devo’s "Whip It" and Nine Inch Nails’ "March of the Pigs").
Of course, the late drummer Taylor Hawkins will always be a prominent part of the Foo Fighters and their shows, and they played "Aurora" in his memory. As the park’s Polo Field lit up in violet-colored lights, Grohl’s 17-year-old daughter Violet Grohl also joined to sing three songs with her father, which he said was his absolute favorite thing in the world to do.
"I’m sure I’m embarrassing her right now!" he said.
Gabriels Tributes Tina Turner
"We’re California boys, but this is our first time in San Francisco," shared Gabriels singer Jacob Lusk before turning the Sutro stage into the Church of Outside Lands, and instructing everyone to share some neighborly love.
The Los Angeles band has some meteoric fans: Elton John invited Lusk, whose early resume includes being a former "American Idol" contestant who was in a gospel group with the late Nate Dogg, to sing with him on stage at this year’s Glastonbury. Lusk’s incredible vocal range flexes from baritone to falsetto on a dime, and he frequently takes a step back from the microphone while singing, as if not to overwhelm it.
In a particularly touching moment, Gabriels performed Tina Turner’s "Private Dancer" while a montage of footage of Turner filled the screen.
Megan Thee Stallion Triumphs Over Tragedy
Fog flooded the park as a super snatched Megan Thee Stallion took to the stage in a hot Barbie pink outfit and long red hair, but she blazed through the haze with ground-sweeping twerking and saucy tracks like "Body," "Her," "WAP" and "Big Ole Freak." It was her first performance since Tory Lanez was sentenced to 10 years for shooting her, and she was feeling noticeably buoyant.
"F— all my haters!" she said in the middle of the set. "None of the s— you was doing or saying broke me."
She received nothing but love from the crowd, and she was delighted by a big pocket of "boys" that she saw. Meg truly loves her "Hotties," and even stopped in between songs to sign someone’s graduation cap. A recent grad herself, she is proud of her fans who follow suit.
"Real college girl s—!" she exclaimed.
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Outside Lands 2023: 10 Female And LGBTQIA+ Performers Taking Center Stage, From Lana Del Rey To Megan Thee Stallion
Outside Lands is stacking a sensational lineup for its 15th anniversary from Aug. 11 to 13. From aespa to Janelle Monáe, here's 10 awe-inspiring female and nonbinary artists who are ready to rule San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of San Francisco's Outside Lands, and while the festival always boasts the Bay Area's best, the 2023 lineup is especially stacked with incredible female and nonbinary talent. From aespa making K-pop history to La Doña's homecoming, the fest's latest iteration is bound to be badass.
As San Francisco transforms Golden Gate Park into a lavish festival ground for three days, check out these 10 performers ready to electrify the city.
Megan Thee Stallion
Time to get lit like a match. Megan Thee Stallion has been hitting stages across the country this year — from LA Pride to her hometown of Houston for the Men's NCAA Final Four — and there's no doubt she'll bring the heat to Golden Gate Park on Sunday. Though the three-time GRAMMY winner is known for her high-hype, feel-good freestyles, her latest album, Traumazine, opens up about anxiety and the importance of self-care. So whether you're having a hot or healing girl summer, her headlining set will be the spot for festgoers to let loose.
On Friday, Janelle Monáe will usher San Francisco into The Age of Pleasure. Sensuality and freedom flood the singer's most recent album, and for Monáe's headlining show, fans can expect bursting psychedelic soul, pop and hip-hop in an evening full of color and love.
Emphasizing intersectionality and identity (Monáe identifies as nonbinary), her wide-ranging performance will traverse her trailblazing concept albums like GRAMMY-nominated Dirty Computer and The ArchAndroid. Having conquered both the big screen and the stage as a multihyphenate, Monáe's set will be nothing short of a spectacle.
Hot off supporting Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, beabadoobee is headed to Golden Gate Park on Sunday afternoon. The Filipino-English singer/songwriter has carved out a space for herself between indie rock and bedroom pop, first becoming known for her sweet, spacey falsetto and her sleeper hit "Coffee" in 2020. The indie star has since expanded her worldbuilding abilities rapidly, spinning intricate scenes from her debut Fake It Flowers into her scenic second album Beatopia — similarly, beabadoobee's Outside Lands set will likely flaunt the vitality of her imagination.
Raveena is the definition of grace, and her Friday Outside Lands set is sure to swell with serenity. Mindfulness is the objective of the singer's soulful music as she grounds herself through tranquil mixes of R&B and pop. From her 2019 debut Lucid to 2022's Asha's Awakening, her voice epitomizes comfort whether it floats through delicate strings or stony drums. At Golden Gate Park, Raveena will bring momentary, blissful peace to the festival's chaotic fun.
Ethel Cain is ready to take concertgoers to church — even on a Friday. The experimental breakout star is known for dissecting dark, Southern Gothic themes in her music, establishing herself as a rising leader in the modern alternative genre (and also in the LGBTQIA+ community, as she is a trans woman). Her debut album Preacher's Daughter only came out last year, but the critically acclaimed album swiftly earned the musician a cult following. After bewitching Coachella audiences back in April, Cain's upcoming Outside Lands set is sure to be compelling.
More than 10 years after she wrote her first original song, NIKI is ready to storm the Twin Peaks stage. Her deeply sincere indie pop drifts with bittersweetness, and it's powerful to witness how well the Indonesian singer's intimacy translates to massive crowds.
Signed to label 88rising in 2017, NIKI soon found herself playing concerts for a growing global fan base that resonated with her heart-to-heart songwriting. Ranging from the dramatic depths of her debut album, MOONCHILD, to 2022's earnest self-titled Nicole, NIKI's Outside Lands set will be perfect for listeners who want to escape with their head in the clouds.
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is the reigning queen of summertime sadness, and she'll be doin' time at Golden Gate Park as one of Saturday's headliners. Known for spinning tales of tragic romance, the GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter plans to enchant audiences at Twin Peaks stage following her release of Did You Know There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard. Her discography haunts and aches, filled with everything from folky gospel to trap pop; if one thing's for sure, Del Rey's highly anticipated performance is bound to be a spiritual journey.
Born and raised in San Francisco, La Doña is making her city proud by performing at the Bay's biggest annual music festival. Taking the Lands End stage with her 11-piece band on Friday, the Chicana musician has come a long way since picking up the trumpet at age 7.
Centering around personal identity and community, her music beautifully merges traditional Latin folk with modern cumbia, reggaeton, and hip-hop. La Doña's progressive sound just earned her a spot on Barack Obama's annual summer playlist, and less than a month later, her hometown will get to see what all of the hype is about.
When aespa takes to Twin Peaks stage Friday, they'll make history as the first K-pop act to ever perform at Outside Lands. Exploding onto the music scene in 2020, the innovative South Korean girl group gives K-pop a fresh edge, distinctively inspired by hyperpop and hip-hop. The group's name combines the words "avatar," "experience," and "aspect," representing their futuristic style that's often embellished by a metaverse aesthetic. Their mind-blowing Coachella and Governors Ball debuts hinted that aespa is ready to pull out all the stops for their Outside Lands crowd.
Maggie Rogers knows how to break free. The 2020 Best New Artist GRAMMY nominee will get the crowd hyped for Saturday headliners Foo Fighters with an enthralling set. Although her debut album Heard It in a Past Life pulses with steady revelations, her alternative follow-up Surrender leans into sweat and desire. As she's proven at many festivals past, Rogers' show will be infused with bright energy, from the slow emotional burn of "Light On" to the exhilarating "Want Want" as the sun goes down.
How Madison Beer Broke Free From Pressures Of Internet Fame & Created Her New Album 'Silence Between Songs'
Three years in the making, Madison Beer started her next chapter with "Home to Another One," the first single from her second album. The singer details her "freeing" journey to creating 'Silence Between Songs.'
In today's viral era, internet personalities are not always hard to come by. But what isn't so easy to find is an internet personality with longevity — and Madison Beer has proven she's more than a fleeting viral star.
Beer started posting cover songs to YouTube in 2012, showing off her pop prowess and ethereal vocals at the age of just 13. She briefly went on the teen pop star trajectory after Justin Bieber signed her to Island Records that same year, but first found her true musical voice on her debut EP, 2018's As She Pleases. And once she took full control with her debut album, 2021's Life Support — co-writing and co-producing all 17 songs — she fully settled into Madison Beer the artist.
Now on the cusp of releasing her second album, Silence Between Songs (due Sept. 15 via Epic Records), Beer aims to expand on the mix of unflinching vulnerability and infectious melodies she's showcased since stepping into her own. She first gave a taste of that with "Home to Another One," an airy track that's a mix of Lana Del Rey and Tame Impala — two of her biggest inspirations, the former of whom even gave Beer feedback on the album.
Del Rey's approval is one of many reasons Silence Between Songs is special to Beer, along with the fact that she once again co-wrote and co-produced every song. But perhaps the most important aspect of the project is the freedom she found through the nearly three-year process.
"As an artist, sometimes we're told that if we take a break someone will replace you, someone's gonna be coming up right behind you," Beer says. "I don't subscribe to that anymore, and I think that's been a really freeing thing."
Beer spoke to GRAMMY.com about how becoming more grounded in her personal life inspired the new music, and why, despite her online fame, she's "actually quite terrified of the internet at times."
Congratulations on the release of "Home to Another One" and the album announcement. I would imagine it's nerve-wracking because one is never really sure how things will be perceived. What's it like finally starting to get everything out there?
"Home to Another One" I actually only just made six months ago, so it was one of the last additions to the album before I turned it in. It hasn't been too painful of a waiting process like the other ones. But I think the reveal of the album title was actually kind of the most intense for me. I've been sitting on it for three years, so to have it out there feels pretty surreal. But people's responses have been really positive and people feel excited, which I'm so grateful for.
It is a bit of a new sound for me; it has a different energy from my other songs. But the real fans who listen to my interviews or see me on tour, they know my music catalog of things I listen to is quite electric or different; there's not just one genre I love. There's nothing I can do that would really surprise them, because they know I love all kinds of music.
Album titles, and titles in general, are always tricky. Tell me how you came up with yours, Silence Between Songs?
I was really young when I first saw a poem or a book about this kind of idea. It was about missing someone, and it said "I miss you so much in between the time it takes for the next song to start."
I always thought that was such a cool concept, and wanted to do something with that idea for my debut album. But when we started creating the album in 2020, the song "Silence Between Songs" was one of the first that we created, so it was the first title I had in mind. We worked off of that, and now three years later, it has proper meaning for me. I've grown so much since I started creating it, and the album is really about how you can grow by tuning the noise out.
It's a testament to the title that you stuck with it for three years and nothing overtook it. How have you found that you settle down and tune the noise out?
Definitely, the title has been non-negotiable for me since. But coming off of tour, it's hard to decompress and settle down. I actually did have a hard time coming back from my last tour, and coming back down to reality; you're just so crazy busy, and it's such a dopamine hit every day. It was a bit hard to settle back down, but it is in those moments that I learn the most about myself.
Now I prioritize my alone time and down time; I let my body rest and don't feel pressured to go out and do things all the time. If I want to stay home and relax in bed the whole weekend, I'll do that. I'm trying to understand and not feel guilty for the downtime and rest times.
As an artist, sometimes we're told that if we take a break someone will replace you, someone's gonna be coming up right behind you. I don't subscribe to that anymore, and I think that's been a really freeing thing.
Is that why you felt like you had to keep going?
I think in the past it was that thing of whether people I worked with or people online; this notion who's always going to be willing to do more than you and do everything, and if you aren't you're gonna get replaced. That was a real fear I had for a long time. I don't let that happen anymore, though. I've been dropped from a label and I've been replaced, so the fear is real, and for a long time I was quite scared of that. But I'm not anymore.
Do you ever worry about revealing too much or too little of yourself? As an artist, too much may seem like oversharing; yet too little, you're not being totally honest. Where's the balance for you, and how have you struck it?
It's definitely interesting to discuss, because in this day and age of social media a lot of us have this pressure to be relatable and likable. But again, I don't put that pressure on myself, because I think that I'm not the kind of person who wakes up every single day and feels the need to make a video about these personal things. I'm down to do it when I feel like it, but I feel it's inauthentic to force yourself into doing it just to be liked. So I try to just post when I feel like it. I think my fans know me and my fans love me. I don't need to win over the hearts of the general public in order to get my music out there and to be received. I don't want to ever force myself into doing anything I don't want to do.
"Home to Another One" is a melancholy anthem with a breakdown. I'm wondering what the genesis of that song was?
Well I thought, "What is my pop sound?" In the past when I've made upbeat songs, they've kind of been maybe not so authentic to me, or songs that I wouldn't get in the car and want to listen to. So I thought, "What can I do that is poppy and fun, but still is me, and not selling out to make a song that's classified as upbeat?"
When I heard it, vocal-wise, it reminded me so much of Lana Del Rey. Would that be fair to say?
Definitely. I'm a huge, huge fan of hers and I feel she's integrated in me in ways I can't even pinpoint.
When you're writing music, as a co-producer, do you know where your songs are going to go style-wise off the bat? What's your process?
I am a co-producer on all of the songs, which has been another awesome endeavor of mine. I'm lucky to work with my amazing producer Leroy Clampitt who's willing, and actually eager, to hear my opinion, and wants me to co-produce everything.
It's not really calculated, I don't think. It just really flows. It's kind of a bummer that we didn't have a camera in the room when we were making it, because I was really involved in every single sound that you hear. My relationship with Leroy is really special because I can make a sound like mmmmm and he'll know what I mean. Everything is very meticulously planned, but it's not like, "I want this type of synth." We let the song flow. and build as we go.
A lot of artists are credited as co-writers on songs, but not many are credited as co-producers. Why was it important for you to be credited as a co-producer on your own tracks?
Working with the same producer for five-plus years now, I feel like I can voice my opinion and it not be weird. Leroy was the one who was gracious enough to say he thought I should get a co-producer credit. He said, "You've done just as much as me." All of the ideas stem from me and us, and we do everything together.
Your debut album came out a couple years ago and you started working on this in 2020. Why such a long process?
It wasn't supposed to be. Time gets away from you, and I definitely went back in the studio many times to redo things and edit. We've had multiple test pressings of the vinyl, and many times I thought it was finished and then went back in.
I don't know, I feel like this is kind of how I am. I'm never really overly satisfied. But my goal now is to try to get an album out within the next year or so after this one drops. I want to get into a groove of dropping music more frequently and not taking three-year gaps between all of them.
You have such a massive internet footprint, with 34 million followers on Instagram alone. Is a following like that a gift or a burden? How do you grapple with that in your mind knowing you can pick up your phone and post something for an audience of millions?
I've been steadily gaining flowers for 12 years, so it's something that didn't happen overnight for me. There's a big difference in the way I go about it now than a couple years ago. I don't force myself to be engaged all the time or posting every single day.
I'm actually quite terrified of the internet at times. The way it moves can be really scary and I think we don't give each other room to make human errors. If I do state an opinion online or want to say something, It's not that I don't care what people say about it, but I know my intentions are. I'm never going to appeal to and please everyone, but I do know when I want to speak and share, it's authentic and it's coming from a good place.
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
GRAMMY Rewind: Fun. Jokes About The Irony Of "We Are Young" After Winning Song Of The Year At The 2013 GRAMMYs
Upon winning their second GRAMMY of the night, fun. frontman Nate Ruess couldn't help but point out a hilariously ironic point: "We are not very young."
As indie rock infiltrated the mainstream in the early 2010s, fun. scored three consecutive hits — "We Are Young," "Some Nights" and "Carry On" — and became one of the hottest acts of the time.
"We Are Young" helped the trio become the first rock group to peak at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in over a decade, while making rounds on commercials and popular teen television series — so it was no surprise that fun. entered the 2013 GRAMMYs with six nominations.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we revisit the moment fun. won Song of the Year for "We Are Young." Earlier that evening, the band also received a golden gramophone for Best New Artist.
"I don't know what I was thinking, writing the chorus of this song. If this is in HD, everyone can see our faces, and we are not very young," lead singer Nate Ruess joked at the start of the speech. "We've been doing this for 12 years, and I just got to say we could not do this without the help of our fans that we've had, keeping us afloat."
Fun.'s guitarist Jack Antonoff (yes, the superproducer and Taylor Swift's now-right-hand man) took a moment to thank those who financially supported them. "To our families... we've been touring 12 years and haven't made money for a long time. They let us live at home for a long time."
Press play on the video above to watch fun.'s full acceptance speech at the 55th GRAMMY Awards, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.