meta-scriptRecord-Breaking Rookie Girl Group NewJeans Are "Enjoying The Ride" On New Release | GRAMMY.com
Record-Breaking Rookie Girl Group NewJeans Are "Enjoying The Ride" On New Release
NewJeans

Photo: ADOR

interview

Record-Breaking Rookie Girl Group NewJeans Are "Enjoying The Ride" On New Release

On their sophomore EP, 'Get Up,' NewJeans continue to prove that they are on the cutting edge of K-pop. The five-piece teen group spoke with GRAMMY.com about their rapid rise to fame and coming into their own.

GRAMMYs/Jul 26, 2023 - 02:17 pm

Like their name, K-pop girl group NewJeans are an atemporal classic. Despite debuting just one year ago — no teasers, no big announcements, only a delightful summer hit by the name of "Attention" — their carefully-crafted ID is both utterly cool and longingly comfortable. It’s as if they could fit anywhere, from early-aughts MTV to the most underground basement parties, but still deliver a twist. 

And while some might argue that being so fluid isn’t a compliment — no one is doing it like they do. Their recently released sophomore EP, Get Up, continues to prove that NewJeans are at the cutting edge of music, blending genres like U.K. garage and favela funk into something curiously progressive, but never unpleasant. The album sold almost 1.2 million copies within 24 hours, becoming the second-largest first-day figure for a Korean girl group in history.    

Formed by ADOR, a new label under HYBE (home to K-pop giants like BTS and TXT), the quintet range from 19 to 15 years old, but have reached senior prestige in the blink of an eye. Their eponymous debut EP and single album OMG both also sold over one million copies. They scored branding deals with juggernauts like McDonald's and Coca-Cola. They were featured in Time's Next Generation Leaders. And each of the members landed a high fashion ambassadorship, including with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, YSL, Chanel Korea and Dior. 

But behind all the glamour, Minji, Danielle, Hanni, Haerin, and Hyein are simply teens moved by their passion for music. Their lyrics and music videos depict real-life situations: boy troubles, the complexities of friendships, growing up surrounded by technology. Stripped back from K-pop’s usual overload, they look, sound, and move relatably for their age — an aspect that made their music stand out even more.

Get Up holds that trend. Its six tracks are short snippets of a dual world, depicting the highs and lows of growing up as a woman: sweet and bubbly in "Super Shy," or in "The Powerpuff Girls" collaboration "New Jeans," but haunting and restless in tracks like "Cool With You," or the frantic "ASAP."

The night before the release, NewJeans spoke with GRAMMY.com over Zoom from Seoul. Excitement is the core feeling as they eagerly answer each question. Sometimes, they fall into laughter, or into partial dancing — one arm slide here, one shoulder bump there. As Hanni says more than once, being NewJeans is "just so much fun."

Read on to know their thoughts on what makes their music so special, their rapid rise to fame, and still feeling like kids sometimes.

Congratulations on your new EP, Get Up. What were some of the challenges of preparing this record, compared to your debut EP?

Minji: As we prepared this EP, we tried to capture multiple genres, and that also applies to our performances. We tried out waacking and some contemporary moves, and vocally speaking, I think we tried to take on new challenges too.

In your first song, "New Jeans," you sing "Look it's a new me / Switched it up, who's this / All eyes on us NewJeans." What new sides of yourself were you able to discover in Get Up?

Hyein: Because we haven't even reached our first-year anniversary yet, I think we have much more to offer and show to our audience. I always thought about us as a group that is constantly striving to bring something fresh to the public, and I feel like this album really solidified my confidence and conviction about our identity.

Although you haven’t even celebrated your first anniversary yet, NewJeans have found incredible success from the get go, and reached milestones that other groups usually take years to get to. How do you manage the pressure of having "all eyes on you"?

Danielle: First of all, we're very, very flattered by all the accomplishments, but I feel like we're still beginners, and we try to have that mindset. I think it's important to stay calm and humble about it.

You recorded the music video for "Super Shy" in Lisbon, "Attention" and "Hype Boy" in Barcelona, and you also have upcoming performances at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Tokyo’s Summer Sonic Festival, and Music Bank in Mexico. How does getting to know other parts of the world influence your work?

Hanni: It's definitely a wonderful opportunity that we're given a chance to film our music videos overseas, and now with Lollapalooza and Summer Sonic, they’re such big international festivals, we're really looking forward to it.

These types of schedules are very eye-opening experiences, and they give us the opportunity to learn different cultures, like, this is how this city looks like, and that city looks like. It just makes the work we’re doing more exciting. I've been so grateful.

The lyrics In "ETA" depict a very relatable conversation between friends. Do any of your songs feel particularly relatable to your life?

Haerin: I think there's something that we can relate to in every song we've had until now, but if I had to pick just one, it would be "Super Shy." I find myself relating to its lyrics a lot, and the duality between the lyrics and the choreography is quite fascinating, because the performance aspect of it is really dynamic and powerful. And yeah, again, I do relate to those lyrics. [Laughs]

A very important question: why is "Get Up" only 36 seconds?

Haerin: Because it's an interlude track, first and foremost. And if you were to look at the order of songs on this EP, "Get Up" is sitting right in the middle of two tracks, so I think that positioning has the job of bringing the entire EP together.

We need more, because that song is so good! Also, "Cool With You" shows a more mature side of NewJeans. When you think of the other members, in what other ways have you noticed their growth?

Hyein: I am the youngest one in the group, so it feels a bit weird to be commenting on the other members. [Laughs]

Minji: No, it’s not. [Pats Hyein’s shoulder]

Hyein: But if I were to speak for the entire group, I think that the type of feedback that we exchange amongst one another has gotten much more specific and detailed, and we are quicker to understand that feedback and apply it to what we do. We have three title tracks in this EP, and each song has a different genre of choreography, so when we were practicing, we had to really focus on putting ourselves in a different mood for each.

This EP talks a lot about time and the timing of certain things, as in "ASAP" and "ETA." You're teenagers now, but do you feel like grown ups? Or do you still feel like kids sometimes?

Danielle: When I was younger, I was always like, "I wanna be older, and I want to be more mature." [Laughs] But now I feel like growth comes naturally when you enjoy the present as much as you can.

Being with the members makes me feel like I'm still a kid sometimes. When I look at myself in music videos from a year ago, I look much different than how I look now, and so I think it's about your mindset, your environment, and who you're around with in the present. The boundaries between kids, teenagers, and adults, I don't feel they are that important.

Minji: I definitely agree. It’s not that important.

Hanni: And we have such wonderful staff members who help us enjoy everything even more. So whether we’re more mature or kids, I think just being able to enjoy it is the most important.

Danielle: Each of us have very different sides. It’s fun to get to know them.

Your songs are often minimalistic and delicate, which stands out in an industry where over-the-top tracks are quite popular. Is there strength in softness?

Haerin: We have a distinct style, but we also like to think that our style is very fluid, and that we are not putting ourselves in boxes. We’re always taking on new challenges and enjoying the ride; that’s what makes NewJeans.

Our music might sound minimalistic and delicate right now, but who knows what's coming in the future? I think that sort of uncertainty and mystery makes this journey more exciting.

As young women growing up in the entertainment industry, how do you balance your personal lives with your onstage personas? Is there a separation between the two?

Hanni: I don't think there is a very clear separation between the two, because music for us started out as a hobby, and soon it turned out into something we really enjoy, so it was very much molded in childhood.

I think we always try to focus on how we can be professional and how we can perform more enjoyable stages for everyone, and doing this is just a part of who we are. There is no line at all. We are silly as we are on and off camera anyways. [Laughs] It’s just lots of fun.

In Korea, you are celebrating the Year of the Rabbit — an animal that is sort of a motif to NewJeans and also the name of your fandom, Bunnies. 10 years from now, how do you think you will look back on this year?

Minji: Well, 10 years is many years down the line, but I do think that I will still be doing what I love. And if [future] me just looks back on me right now, I think she would just feel an immense amount of gratitude for our members, for all the hard work, and be proud of what we're doing.

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Travis Scott, Britney Spears, NewJeans & More
Travis Scott performs at the 2023 Wireless Festival.

Photo: Simone Joyner/Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Travis Scott, Britney Spears, NewJeans & More

July 21 marks a big day of new music releases, including star-studded collaborations like Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and The Weeknd's "K-POP" and a new EP from NewJeans. Hear some of the biggest new songs on GRAMMY.com.

GRAMMYs/Jul 21, 2023 - 08:06 pm

Like so many New Music Fridays before it, July 21 brought a cornucopia of fresh and unique sounds from all over the map.

Want to hear Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and the Weeknd get mellow and psychedelic? Raring to hear the latest dispatch from a One Direction member? Want a taste of A$AP Rocky's long-awaited next album? Is a Britney-shaped chunk missing from your musical life? Want to hear the future of K-pop? 

To these and other questions, this slew of tunes will provide answers. In the below roundup, hurtle into the weekend with wildly divergent sounds from some of music's top acts — many with sizable GRAMMY legacies.

Travis Scott, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd — "K-POP"

A week before nine-time GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott's Utopia livestream event at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on July 28 — which will debut his new studio album of the same name — he dropped his sixth collaboration with four-time GRAMMY winner the Weeknd.

"K-POP," the album's lead single, is rounded out by three-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny, in his first collab with Scott. This triple-threat track has a stony, smoldering feel, with luxurious production from Boi-1da, among others — and it's elevated by its panoramic, transportive video.

ZAYN — "Love Like This"

The former One Direction member continues his solo legacy with "Love Like This," his first new single since 2021.

Therein, ZAYN extols the virtues of throwing caution to the wind when it comes to infatuation: "Everything is on the line, but I would rather be dead/If it's gonna mean a life that's lived without you, baby," he sings. "I think I gotta take that risk/ 'cause I cannot go back."

In the video, ZAYN putters around on a motorcycle on a gorgeous day. Previously signed to RCA, the singer recently moved to Mercury Records; could "Love Like This" be the ramp-up to a new album? If so, "Love Like This" offers a tantalizing taste of what's to come.

will.i.am, Britney Spears — "MIND YOUR BUSINESS"

After the termination of her conservatorship, GRAMMY winner Britney Spears dipped a toe back into her music career in 2022 with "Hold Me Closer," a duet with Elton John that includes elements of "Tiny Dancer," "The One" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."

Now, she's back in earnest with "MIND YOUR BUSINESS," a sassy, pulsing, electronic duet with seven-time GRAMMY winner will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame. The track marks the pair's fourth team-up, and first since 2014's "It Should Be Easy" from Spears' Brtiney Jean.

NewJeans — "ETA"

GRAMMY.com called NewJeans one of 10 K-Pop rookie girl groups to watch in 2023, and keeping ears on them has paid off. On July 21, they released their new EP, Get Up, to critical acclaim: NME declared that "​​no one can hold a candle to K-pop's rising wonder girls."

Concurrently with the release of Get Up, they released a joyous, iPhone-shot music video to its effervescent single, "ETA," in which a group of girls find a friend's boyfriend making moves on another lady.

Chris Stapleton — "White Horse"

Chris Stapleton's last album, 2020's Starting Over, helped the country crooner make a clean sweep at the 2022 GRAMMYs. At that ceremony, he won golden gramophones for Best Country Solo Performance ("You Should Probably Leave"), Best Country Song ("Cold") and Best Country Album ("Starting Over").

On Nov. 10, the eight-time GRAMMY winner will release his next LP, Higher. As he revealed the news on July 21, Stapleton also unveiled a majestic rocker of a single, "White Horse." "If you want a cowboy on a white horse/ Ridin' off into the sunset," he sings thunderously, "If that's the kinda love you wanna wait for/ Hold on tight, girl, I ain't there yet."

A$AP Rocky — "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)"

For his latest track, A$AP Rocky dropped a stylish, charming short film for Beats depicting a harried diaper run (a fitting narrative for the new dad, soon to be dad of two, with partner Rihanna). That only contains a minute of the song, though; it's worth luxuriating in the whole thing.

To an uneasy, lumbering beat, Rocky extols a lifestyle to die for ("My wife is erotic/ I'm smokin' exotic/My whip is exotic") as well as his unparalleled connections ("I just call designers up, I free ninety-nine it").

Backed by 13-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell, "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)" is said to be the first single from A$AP Rocky's long-awaited fourth album, Don't Be Dumb; if the quality of the track is any indication, it'll be worth the long haul.

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10 K-Pop Rookie Girl Groups To Watch In 2023: Le Sserafim, Mimiirose, Ive & More
(Clockwise from top row) Mimiirose, LE SSERAFIM, NMIXX

All images by The Chosunilbo, JNSImazins via Getty

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10 K-Pop Rookie Girl Groups To Watch In 2023: Le Sserafim, Mimiirose, Ive & More

Girl groups may take over the sound of K-pop in 2023. Read on to learn about 10 female-fronted groups whose 2022 success has made them artists to watch this year.

GRAMMYs/Jan 4, 2023 - 04:22 pm

In 2022, K-pop was defined by women. From early spring hits like (G)I-dle’s "Tomboy" and IVE’s "Love Dive," to BLACKPINK topping the Billboard 200 albums chart and then embarking on the largest world tour for a K-pop girl group, there was no shortage of achievements or great music for K-pop's leading ladies.

Renowned names like TWICE, Mamamoo, ITZY and Red Velvet thrived with new releases, festival appearances, and international tours. Soloists made exciting comebacks — as with artists from BoA, Chung Ha, and Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon — or through  long-awaited debuts, like former Iz*One members Chaeyeon and Yena, Red Velvet’s Seulgi, TWICE’s Nayeon, and many others.

2022 was also the year where legends such as Girls’ Generation, KARA and EXID returned after being inactive for years, instilling a breath of fresh hope in an industry where so few women thrive past their mid-20s. While these changes take time, hopefully their steps will open doors to a different future.

But among countless highlights and broken records, 2022’s crowning jewel has to be the solid collection of girl groups it debuted into the world. Each overflowing with potential and unique flair, GRAMMY.com rounded up 10 names — in order of debut — that are defining how K-pop will sound and look in 2023 and beyond.

Billlie

Debuting at the tail end of 2021, this septet from Mystic Story Entertainment built a peculiar niche right from the start. As it’s written on the cover of their first EP, the Billage of perception : chapter one, "we sing of the mysterious, hidden, and even dangerous B-side." Their lore features multiple dimensions in both real and dream worlds, but centers on figuring out what happened with a fictional girl named Billlie Love.

Much like their narrative, Billlie’s songs are marked by unusual titles ("M◐◑N palace" or "Mcguffins ~ Who's the Joker?" come to mind), quirky soundscapes, and eloquent performances. Early this year, main dancer Tsuki went viral for her fancam performing "GingaMingaYo (the strange world)" — which shows a small glimpse of how mesmerizing they can be.

IVE

Just five days shy of their first anniversary, IVE made history, winning a Daesang (grand prize) for Best Song of the Year at the 2022 MelOn Music Awards for their single "Love Dive." The achievement placed them as the third fastest girl group to win their first grand prize.

"Love Dive," which dominated South Korean charts for months, is a prime example of the "chaebol crush" concept that IVE crafted for themselves: girl crush, but with a hint of royalty. Hailing from Starship Entertainment, the six-member group — which includes Wonyoung and Yujin of Iz*One fame — was one of the biggest sensations of 2022, and are certainly ready to multiply that success in the following years.

Kep1er

Formed last year through Mnet’s survival show Girls Planet 999, Kep1er inaugurated 2022 with debut single "WA DA DA" on Jan. 3, 2022. Its nine members come from different backgrounds and countries (South Korea, China and Japan), but together they form a K-pop Megazord of sorts. Although their style is often bold and loud, their b-sides prove they can work with softer and sultrier styles just as well.

Kep1er is set to disband sometime in July 2024, but don’t cry — in addition to the bops yet to come, temporary groups in K-pop are often fundamental in shaping the next generation of idols (just look at how many former Iz*One members are mentioned on this list). That said, even if Kep1er’s sound isn't much to your taste, you’re better off learning the names of some of K-pop’s future leaders.

NMIXX

The latest girl group off JYP Entertainment — home to titans like TWICE and ITZY — NMIXX debuted in February 2022 with the divisive "O.O." Bringing together multiple tempo changes, soaring chants, rock guitars and a handful of onomatopoeias, the attention-grabbing tune challenged perceptions about what makes a good song.

They confidently call their sound "MIXXPOP," and repeated its profuse nature in September’s theatrical "Dice," to much commercial success. But for those who still aren’t convinced, the sextet has also proven versatility to spare in the unstoppable beats of "Tank," the sweet joy of "Funky Glitter Christmas," and in a show-stopping cover of Seventeen’s "Aju Nice" at KCON 2022 L.A.

LE SSERAFIM

"What you lookin’ at?" LE SSERAFIM ask in their polished debut "Fearless," but the truth is that it was hard not to look at them in 2022. They were the first girl group to debut under HYBE, the entertainment label of groups like BTS, TXT, and ENHYPEN. Adding to the expectation, popular names such as Sakura and Chaewon from Iz*One and Mnet’s "Produce 48" contestant Yunjin also figured in the lineup.

While the anticipation was high, there was no better group to weather these challenges. With a name composed by an anagram of the phrase "I'm fearless," LE SSERAFIM proved that their core is made of steel and flawless releases. If "Fearless" showed what they came for, October’s neo-perreo-influenced "Antifragile" consolidated the quintet as a bold, blazing force to be reckoned with.

CLASS:y

Another girl group formed through a survival show — MBC’s "My Teenage Girl" — CLASS:y debuted in May with the ambitious "Shut Down." The track steamrolls with classic Indian instruments and relentless tempo, proving that while CLASS:y might be lesser known than their peers, they are just as talented.

The full range of their skills is on display during live performances. Radiating confidence beyond their years, they tackle styles that range from Latin-inspired mid-tempos to bouncy bangers meant to stick in your mind for days.

NewJeans

For months, it was rumored that another girl group from HYBE would be debuting under the wings of their subsidiary label, ADOR. However, no one expected their debut to be as groundbreaking as it was. NewJeans dropped "Attention" out of the blue in late July — no teasers beforehand, no info about the members, nothing.

It worked. The release gained over 1.3 million YouTube views in less than 24 hours. Following suit came music videos for all three other tracks off their exquisite self-titled EP, including 2022’s darling summer hit, "Hype Boy." With impeccably chill vibes and an aesthetic filled with Y2K nostalgia, NewJeans were one of 2022’s biggest, most rewarding surprises.

CSR

Formed entirely by 17-year-olds, CSR debuted in the summer with a kind of sound that seemed to be forgotten in recent K-pop. Bringing back memories of groups like GFRIEND and Lovelyz, these rookies' sugary, synth-filled slice of pop effortlessly stood out.

CSR’s first single "Pop? Pop!" is layered with surprises and unfaltering hope — motifs that are repeated throughout their whimsical EP Sequence: 7272 — but it was November’s fizzy "♡TiCON" that got them their first music show win on KBS’s Music Bank, settling the group as ones to watch in 2023.

mimiirose

Although YES IM Entertainment is a newly established company, its CEO is none other than Im Chang-jung — a singer-songwriter and actor known in South Korea for being "the original multi-entertainer." That said, it makes sense why mimiirose left an impression right off the gate with September’s "Rose."

Boasting confident vocals over Middle Eastern-inspired chords, "Rose" offers a fair display of their charms, with special remarks to rapper and former Girls Planner 999 contestant Yoon Jia. The two other tracks off their single album Awesome don't disappoint either. With the tropical house of "Lululu" and the trickling synths of "Kill Me More," mimiirose are primed as self-assured performers with unyielding potential.

Fifty Fifty

Under newcomer label ATTRAKT, Fifty Fifty debuted on Nov. 18 with a strong first EP, The Fifty.

Throughout its four dazzling tracks, the quartet displays various colors and a vocal maturity that is both hard to find and crucial to have. "Tell Me" starts the journey in what could be the perfect indie movie soundtrack, moving swiftly to the synthpop of pre-release "Lovin’ Me" and title track "Higher." By the time that edgy closer "Log In" arrives, you are already sold on Fifty Fifty’s magical appeal.

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For Laura Jane Grace, Record Cycles Can Be A 'Hole In My Head' — And She's OK With That
Laura Jane Grace

Photo: Travis Shinn

interview

For Laura Jane Grace, Record Cycles Can Be A 'Hole In My Head' — And She's OK With That

Punk veteran Laura Jane Grace came up as the frontwoman for Against Me!. Now, she's out with her second solo album, 'Hole In My Head' — and all the publicity that comes with it — during a tectonic shift in her life.

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 10:54 pm

Laura Jane Grace is on the precipice of a brand new life.

The Against Me! frontwoman just got married in a whirlwind, to comedian Paris Campbell. Her Jeep got sideswiped by a drunk driver; when we spoke, the pair were on an Amtrak from Chicago to St. Louis to pick it up from the mechanic. At press time, Grace and Campbell will soon drive it back to their new, shared home in Chicago: they've been handed the keys, and they're in the center of that maelstrom.

"We've moved Paris' apartment from New York to Chicago, and now we're moving my apartment to the house we got," Grace tells GRAMMY.com over the phone, sitting on the tracks with Campbell in Joliet, Illinois. "It's scientifically proven that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do in life.

"Just take my word for it," she quips, when asked if that's true. "Don't Google it."

Grace has done a lot of Googling as of late — to mixed results. Her latest solo album, Hole in My Head — helmed by Drive-By Trucker and Dexateen Matt Patton — dropped Feb. 16, and the press cycle rolls on.

Warm, lived-in and melodic songs like "Dysphoria Hoodie," "Birds Talk Too" and "Tacos and Toast" comprise a satisfying continuation of what Grace does best: yowly, heartfelt punk rock. But presenting them to the world has been challenging. Tidbits from the bio get blown out of proportion. Flat-out mischaracterizations make it to print, and stay there.

She's not bitter about any of it; she's mirthful. "I do think that, ultimately, [you shouldn't] read the reviews, and that you shouldn't live and die by what people say about the art you're making," she says. "But I would rather people are saying good things than bad things. I notice that people are saying good things."

They certainly are. Read on for an interview with Grace about the process behind Hole in My Head, parenting, espresso, Slash versus Izzy Stradlin, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

I'm sure you've talked about these songs to death. I want to talk about the — let's say indignities — of releasing a record. Like, "Hey guys, it's three weeks old! Do… you still like it?" as it recedes into the rearview.

Yeah. I was thinking that to myself last night, because I'm a little burnt out on social media at the moment. But I feel that pressure of like, Alright, you put out a record, you've got to promote on social media — you'd better make a post or else people are going to forget that literally last week you put out a record that you've been waiting a year to put out!

And it can be a little disheartening at times, for sure.

Psychologically, what's it like to read the reviews? It seems like the doomsday clock for digital media is at 11:59. Reviews used to make or break careers; these days, they seem to comprise an irrelevant sideshow.

It's strange, because I still think of reviews ultimately in the context of how I thought about them with zines. Oftentimes, you would look through zines and you would see the reviews, and that would be your clue and context of what was happening — other bands to tour with if they had a record coming out, or whatever. People that you'd reach out to.

I do think that, ultimately, [you shouldn't] read the reviews, and that you shouldn't live and die by what people say about the art you're making. But I would rather people are saying good things than bad things. I notice that people are saying good things.

And then also, as you said, I'm aware of the layoffs [in music journalism and digital media as a whole], and I'm aware that you've almost got to be thankful for [any press], as a whole community.

Part of my job is promoting those media outlets in a way, too. And that's just through literally just moving your thumb a couple of inches or whatever and pressing repost or retweet or whatever.

You had a funny tweet recently about how the reviews focus on the relative brevity of the songs, even though that's conventional on pop radio. Is that kind of thing somewhat bemusing — or frustrating?

I get frustrated with it, because the record took two years to write, and then it takes however long to record. But then, it all comes down to the bio. The bio is what all the journalists use as their touch points or talking points.

So, if you say the wrong thing in the bio, then everyone is asking those wrong questions for every interview. It's like that the whole time. It's almost like the bio makes or breaks your record.

And then, you're also tasked with trying to understand something that you just made; with a bio, that's oftentimes really hard to do. You're like, "I don't know, I just wrote it. I don't know what it means. I don't want to have to explain it," but then you got to explain it for the bio.

Without naming any names — and you can obscure the language if you like — what's an example of a wrong question you get asked?

The song length thing is one thing, but then the whole thing where people being like, "Oh, the record has a real '50s influence." It's like, "Shut the f— up. It just says that in the bio. Did you even listen to the record? Have you heard it?"

It just sounds like an Against Me! record. It's literally the same process that I've been doing for the past 25 years. I'm not writing songs any differently or approaching them any differently. I read one review that said that it had "handclaps and whoas, which are decidedly not punk." I'm like, What?

Outside of the press, where are we catching you in life, with Hole in My Head out in the world? You're on the precipice of a completely new epoch of existence.

That's what it is. Huge, massive changes happening in life. And that's the thing you don't want to happen in a way, with a record — where a year in between completing it and putting it out because you've got to pull yourself back to that place to even talk about it for interviews then, which can be hard sometimes.

I'm excited about songs that we recorded back in December and then excited about writing new music and just now having a record released holds you in place in that way. So, having it out is a good thing, and [being] free to move forward.

This is a cliché, but whatever: Hole in My Head sounds like a snapshot of where you are in the moment. Some records feel like promotional noise and don't tell me anything about the artist. Have you written in that slice-of-life, "Tacos and Toast" way before?

I think I was building towards that. I am happy with the way that song came out, but it took a lot of work to get to that kind of flow. But I think a song like "Shelter In Place," off of Stay Alive, was a precursor to that style, maybe.

Are you talking about honing your focus on syllables and stresses and stuff? Or themes?

More just relaxing into it.

Tell me more about that.

Like I said, the song "Shelter In Place" was a precursor to that song, because they both mention espresso. So, you're singing about your morning coffee, which to an 18-year-old punk kid probably seems really uninteresting. But when you're in your forties, you're like, Hell yeah. My morning cup of espresso — looking forward to that. I want to sing about that. I'm excited about that.

But I think it takes a nuance to be able to work that into a song. And I admire songwriters like John Prine or Dan Reeder, who were able to sing about their morning breakfast steaks and s— like that and make it good.

**I'm a huge John Prine fan. I don't sense he sat down and overworked anything. It all seemed as natural as breathing. So, it's almost like unlearning.**

Totally. That is what it is: natural as breathing, if you're writing about eggs, you're not trying, and it's coming off way better. And there we are with a Jonathan Richman reference: "They're not tryin' on the dance floor."

I'm not going to make you explain this song, because it's a song. But "I'm Not a Cop" touched a nerve in me, as per how we police each other day-to-day.

There's that, and then I think also it even relates to being a parent and realizing you don't have the authoritarian bone in your body and that that's not you, but I don't know. There might not be many things I'm confident about in life, but I'm definitely confident about that statement.

And, also the observation of seeing a cop at Superdawg eating a hot dog. It makes me smile every time I sing it.

Tell me more.

Literally, I drove by the Superdawg, which is a famous hot dog place in Chicago, and there was a cop in there eating a hot dog. It's f—ing hilarious.

Has parenting been a mind-bending, acid-like experience for you? Or did it all come naturally?

Yeah, mind-bending for sure. Last night, I got in a pseudo-argument with my kid, because they were criticizing me for only playing rhythm guitar that I never played solos. [Note: Grace's child uses they/them pronouns.]

They were specifically saying this because they're just a better guitar player than me already. And they really have focused on solos and doing really intricate guitar playing parts. I'm like, Goddamn, this is just surreal to have your kid digging into you about your guitar playing style

Basically, they're saying they're Slash, and you're Izzy Stradlin — suck it.

Are they hitting ultimate-guitar.com? What's going on?

They're rad. They're really, really, really good. I feel like they're seconds away from starting their own band.

What are their influences?

I gave them a Fleas and Lice record yesterday to listen to. They're really into punk, and really into odd stuff. At this point, I'm looking to them to see what's going on and what I should be listening to.

You mentioned that this is the process you've always abided by. But, can you talk about any special production flourishes here, or anything like that?

I was working with what I had. If I had had a drummer with me at the time, it would've been a  different record. But I didn't, so the drums came out the way they did.

I think the biggest addition and blessing with the record is Matt Patton. Him raising his hand and going to drive up to St. Louis — having never met me before — and spending a week in the studio. The parts he came up with are so rad; they make those songs. If it weren't for him, it would've been an entirely different record.

One thing I don't like to do when finishing a record, is listen to it comparatively to the record before it. Even sonically, I want to be surprised by it down the road.

Is making a record almost an uncomfortable experience, where you don't want to look at it too long? Is it like staring into the sun?

Yeah. That's ill-advised. I was actually thinking about that earlier. We were driving down and the sun was coming up and I was staring at it and I was like, Don't look into the sun you fucking idiot."

I think the uncomfortable part of the experience is the necessary part of the experience, and you have to push through the uncomfortable to get to the comfortable part — to know that you've got a good record.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Baby Keem Celebrate "Family Ties" During Best Rap Performance Win In 2022
Baby Keem (left) at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Baby Keem Celebrate "Family Ties" During Best Rap Performance Win In 2022

Revisit the moment budding rapper Baby Keem won his first-ever gramophone for Best Rap Performance at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards for his Kendrick Lamar collab "Family Ties."

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 05:50 pm

For Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar, The Melodic Blue was a family affair. The two cousins collaborated on three tracks from Keem's 2021 debut LP, "Range Brothers," "Vent," and "Family Ties." And in 2022, the latter helped the pair celebrate a GRAMMY victory.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, turn the clock back to the night Baby Keem accepted Best Rap Performance for "Family Ties," marking the first GRAMMY win of his career.

"Wow, nothing could prepare me for this moment," Baby Keem said at the start of his speech.

He began listing praise for his "supporting system," including his family and "the women that raised me and shaped me to become the man I am."

Before heading off the stage, he acknowledged his team, who "helped shape everything we have going on behind the scenes," including Lamar. "Thank you everybody. This is a dream."

Baby Keem received four nominations in total at the 2022 GRAMMYs. He was also up for Best New Artist, Best Rap Song, and Album Of The Year as a featured artist on Kanye West's Donda.

Press play on the video above to watch Baby Keem's complete acceptance speech for Best Rap Performance at the 2022 GRAMMYs, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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