Grace can take on many meanings. For indie-pop musician Drew Anton, grace symbolizes forgiveness, hope, and the risks you take for love. Drew conveys this message in his first full-length album, Fall from Grace, which is bound to carry listeners out to a sea of ambience with its indie-pop melodies. From start to finish, Drew weaves together themes of grace, the soaring heights of love, the depths of betrayal, and the tender fragility of putting together the pieces after the fall.
Last year, I interviewed Drew for my first blog post, highlighting his music and recent creative projects. Now, a little over a year later, Drew returns to the Sincerely SC blog with news of his latest project. I recently had a Skype interview with Drew to discuss Fall from Grace, available on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and everywhere now. Below is a transcript of the interview; if you prefer watching or listening to the interview, please click here.
Hey everyone! This is Sara Catherine, author of the blog Sincerely SC. I’m here today with indie-pop musician Drew Anton to discuss his upcoming album, Fall from Grace, out this Friday, August 28. Hi Drew!
Hey Sara Catherine, thanks for having me on your blog, I’m really excited to talk to you about all this music!
Thanks for coming, I’m so excited to talk to you and learn more! Last year, I interviewed Drew for my first blog post, highlighting his music and recent creative projects. Now, a little over a year later, Drew returns to the Sincerely SC blog with news of his latest project – Fall from Grace.
Fall from Grace, Drew’s first full-length album, is bound to carry listeners out to a sea of ambiance with its indie-pop melodies. From start to finish, Drew weaves together themes of the soaring heights of love, the depths of betrayal, and the tender fragility of putting together the pieces after the fall.
Fall from Grace is available for pre-order on Bandcamp now and will be available everywhere August 28. Drew, thank you for joining me, I’m super excited to talk about your album!
Me too, I’m ready to go!
First off, how are you doing? The world is pretty topsy-turvy right now, and the music industry has been one of the hardest hit by the shutdowns due to COVID-19. How are you navigating this new world?
Honestly, I’m kind of just trying to ride the wave like everyone else is. It’s cool because I’ve been working on this project for a little over a year now, so when the pandemic and everything started to set in and the news was going crazy and everything, it was hard to find a sense of normality anymore. Because like you said, the music world got hit pretty badly and I’ve been working in live music events, so I lost my job actually, so it didn’t really feel like life was normal anymore. But luckily, I had already been working on this album for over a year at that point, so that was the one thing that kind of helped me process everything and still had that little sense of normality, like I was still in the rhythm of something that I was doing.
It also gave me a little bit of a sense of hope, because I had something to look forward to. And as you know, and anyone who likes music, it really helped keep me grounded. Writing music in general is very therapeutic and it helps you process things that are going on around you in the world. So even though I’m not happy that everything happened and people are struggling, I feel really lucky that I was able to have this album to help me get through this time, and I’m really hoping that when people hear it, it gives them a little bit of relief from all of the tension and stress and negativity that’s happening.
I definitely know exactly what you mean, music has been getting me through these rocky times too. Sorry to hear about your job – I guess it was good to have this project to give you something to work on and look forward too.
Yeah, it worked out because, with the way I was working before the pandemic happened, I was still working on this album at the same time so it was challenging to find a balance between working sometimes 16-hour days and then finding time to still record this album. So it was almost a blessing in disguise that I got laid off for a few months – I actually just got my job back about a month ago.
Oh, that’s great, congratulations!
Yeah, it’s definitely not the same as it was, we aren’t having live events really right now, but I’m still doing some technical audio-visual stuff right now. Anyway, that was the one thing I was trying to have a different viewpoint of during the pandemic and quarantine, that it was beneficial for me to have this time to really focus on this album. Basically, I didn’t have any commitments for about three months, I was just at home, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to finish recording this album. So it worked out I guess in that way.
That’s so funny because you just answered my second question, which was to ask if the pandemic aided your creativity at all, like having more time to dedicate to your music?
Definitely yeah, in that sense, but at the same time I didn’t really know what was going to happen [in] the next coming months. In a way, it was almost challenging too, to dedicate the time to this album, even though I had the time at that point now, finding the motivation was a little bit challenging at times. Even though I was at home and I was able to record and spend all of my time and energy on the album, I was still very much aware of what was going on in the world and it really wasn’t possible not to hear about the news and see everything all over social media. So I still definitely felt that burden and that negative energy from the unfortunate things happening. So it was challenging to stay creative, but I really had to push myself because I wanted this so badly. Like I said, it was that one thing that was kind of keeping me grounded.
Wow, you’re so good at this because my follow-up question was if it hindered your creative process at all! How are you doing that?
I’m so sorry, literally ruining your questions! [laughs]
No, this is what I love about these interviews, is the conversation and everything! And I know exactly what you mean, like I thought that I would have all this time for personal projects, but I think everyone felt this way. It’s hard to find that motivation when you have the time, but things aren’t normal, so what do you do with it?
Congratulations on finishing your new album, Fall from Grace! You’ve been working on this album for over a year now, right?
Yeah, I started it in July of 2019. I’m trying not to jump ahead and answer any possible questions! [laughs]
It’s fine, go ahead, I definitely don’t mind! [laughs]
So yeah, I started it in July 2019. And we talked about this the other day, but I was re-reading through the first interview we did on my EP Perfect Stranger, which I released in March of 2019, so last year. And I mentioned that I was working on another EP that was supposed to be called Back to Me, and it’s funny because I started to write for that and it didn’t really have a clear direction. I kind of had a theme in mind, and I had about a song or two written, but I wasn’t crazy about them. And I started writing that in May or June.
But then in July of last year, I started to write this one song and it wasn’t related to this project. I just happened to sit down at my piano and I was thinking about other things, and it kind of just came out within a half-hour or so. It felt really natural. And I was really, really happy and proud of how it came out. And from that point on I kind of shifted gears into this new project that I didn’t really have in mind, I didn’t have it planned. And that song ended up being “Thought of You,” which is on Fall from Grace. So I would say that was really the beginning of this project, and it was unintentional since I was planning on working on a different project and then everything escalated from there.
Again, that’s so funny, because my next question was “Last time we talked, you had plans to release another EP titled Back to Me”!
[Laughs] We’re so good at this! We’re in sync!
We are, we’re on the same wavelength! So you answered that question perfectly [laughs]. So you released a few songs before you announced Fall from Grace, like “Thought of You,” I think you had “Fades to Grey” and “I’m Not Always Sad, But Sometimes I Am” also on your Bandcamp for a bit, and I noticed those were on the new album too.
That leads into my next question pretty well. Fall from Grace has 17 songs, which is quite a lot, especially considering this is your first full-length album! Was having so many songs intentional, or did it happen organically as you came up with new song ideas?
It was completely organic. A little bit on what you just said about the two songs that were out on Spotify before the album – like I said, I wrote “Thought of You” in July of 2019 and I didn’t really have it as being attached to any kind of project, and I just wanted to share it. So, I put that one out by itself on Spotify, I think at either the end of July or August, but I think it came out at the end of July. I kind of was beginning to like the sound and direction that that song was going in, and that one just happened completely randomly and organically. And then in August, maybe a week or two after I put out “Thought of You,” I was just sitting on my bed one night, I had the window open and I heard some fireworks going off down the street, and I was just playing random things on my guitar. I had just gotten this new reverb plugin for my recording and I was just playing around with it, with my microphone and my guitar.
I was also just feeling this melancholy way for some reason, I was thinking about random things that were going on at the time, and again in like a half-hour I wrote a new song! It was recorded in one take, I didn’t edit it or anything, it just felt very natural to me in that moment. I was just sitting by myself with my emotions and all of that, and I ended up recording “I’m Not Always Sad, But Sometimes I Am,” which is the third track on the album. I put that one out too, on Spotify. So I had these random songs that still weren’t really attached to something, but that’s how the ball got rolling.
Going back to your actual question, I ended up with 17 because they all happened like this. They just happened in the moment, organically, based on the things that were going on in my life over the past year. Once I had a certain amount of songs I think I was like, “Okay, I have about nine songs,” so I definitely knew it wasn’t going to be an EP at that point. I was like, “Okay, maybe I can do a full album.” So I said, “I think nine is okay,” but then I just kept writing, and I wasn’t even trying to. If I would just sit at my piano or my guitar a song would just pop out of me. Which is really cool to look back at now, that I was that inspired all the time. ‘Cause sometimes it’s really hard as a writer to get out a song because of writer’s block. That’s why I try not to write if I’m not really inspired by something, because I don’t want it to sound forced. I really want to be authentic to myself and my music, and what I’m sharing with people. So I just kept writing and writing, [for] a little over half of a year, and that’s how I ended up with all 17.
That is amazing, that you are able to come up with things that organically and that it just comes to you like that. That’s a talent.
My personal favorites are “You Make It So Easy,” “Head Over Heels,” “I Think I’m in Love,” and “Yours Tomorrow (Yours to Keep)” – though it’s impossible to really pick favorites, they’re all so good!
I remember in our last interview we discussed how storytelling is a key part of your songwriting. Listening to Fall from Grace from start to finish definitely tells a story about love, loss, and putting together the pieces after the fall. Could you go into a little more detail about the story you want to tell?
Yeah, definitely! Like I said, all of these songs happened really organically. The first couple that I wrote were kind of just random, they definitely had to do with what was going on with my life at the time. But once I got the ball rolling with everything, that’s when I started to get this idea of what I wanted to say, as I kept writing more. So then I began to think about what I wanted to say if I was doing a full album. It was a little bit tricky at first because the songs were kind of mixed in tone and meaning. For example, “Thought of You” is the first song that I wrote for this album, and it’s a love song, but then a few weeks later when I wrote “I’m Not Always Sad, But Sometimes I Am,” that one was about something I was still struggling with. It was almost like a continuation of what I was saying in my Perfect Stranger EP, a continuation of that story.
A few months later I ended up writing “Fades to Grey,” which is also a love song. I had this dichotomy of love in a hopeful, positive way, and I had another collection of songs that was writing itself about heartbreak and the misery that I was still trying to process from stuff that was happening from 2018 to 2019. So I had to figure out how to organize this collection into one body of work that flowed and made sense with one solid message.
“It was also a way for me to have grace for the people I was writing about as well and the situations I was experiencing…It’s really hard to hold on to anything that’s pressing on your heart like that, so the idea of grace was really important in that way.”
View this post on Instagram
I honestly didn’t meditate much about the title at all. It was really weird, I actually don’t specifically remember the day or how I came up with the title Fall from Grace, but it kind of just happened. I was just thinking, “what would I call this,” and then for some reason that just came to my head, Fall from Grace, and I was like, “okay, I like how that sounds.” As I wrote the rest of the songs, it was really weird how they made sense with that title, and then I began honing in more specifically on that theme. Like you said, it’s definitely about putting together the pieces from the heartbreak and the deepest lows I was experiencing from Perfect Stranger and what was still lingering from that. But then [it’s also about] looking forward to the future, which is why I had all those love songs. And all the new people and places I was experiencing, that were inspiring those more positive songs that were really changing my perspective and kind of opening my heart back up again to life. That’s kind of how I was able to organize everything into one body of work.
I love that about the album, how you can see the progression in the songs in how you organized it, that it kind of starts with that heartbreak and moves on to the healing and the hope. I really love that about the album, it’s so cool.
Yeah, that was really fun for me to organize the songs. As you know, I’ve only done an EP before and that’s only three or four songs so it’s very easy to just [organize]. I mean, EPs you can still tell a story with obviously, but it’s a much smaller body of work. So when I had 17 songs I had to figure out how to put them in a way that flowed and made sense with the story I was telling. It’s funny, like everything else up to that point, I didn’t really think about it hard, it kind of just happened itself in the way that I ordered them.
The opening track, the first two tracks basically, are a little bit about self-realization. It starts the ball rolling. The self-realization actually combines both themes, so it combined the sorrow and heartbreak and misfortunate stuff I was feeling, but also it was referencing the love that I was looking forward to. So I organized it that way – it starts with the self-realization, then it goes through processing the lingering sadness I was experiencing, with a new angle actually, which I had never written about before. I was able to express some anger with the songs “You Make It So Easy” and “I Don’t Care,” and even “Head Over Heels For You.” I never expressed anger before in my music and it felt really good and important to the album, because it was another aspect of me processing my feelings and closing the chapter on all of the stuff I talked about in Perfect Stranger and up until this point. I still had a little bit left to say of that story, to process it all and say, “You know, I’m in a better place now.” So that’s why I put that there.
Right after that last sad, angry song, it goes into the interlude, and I used that interlude to separate the beginning and the rest. Everything after the interlude is all about the love songs. So that’s how I did that.
I definitely noticed that, with the break in the middle. That’s great that you were able to process all those different emotions that you were feeling during that time and let it inspire your work. What is your favorite song (or songs!) from the album?
Oh gosh! [laughs].
Yeah, it’s funny because I thought this question would come up and I was trying really hard to think about it…it changed a little bit during the recording process. Whenever I write a new song that I really love and I’m proud of, I’m like, “Oh, this is it, this is my favorite thing that I’ve written so far.” Which is a really cool feeling as a songwriter, because I really feel a sense of growth. Sometimes it’s really hard when you’re trying to write something and you don’t feel really proud of it, it’s a hard feeling because you know what you want to say but it’s not exactly coming out in the way you want it to, or having the impact that you want it to have, that you think the song deserves to have, but it’s just not there yet. So I was really thankful for this album, that I didn’t really run into that problem too much.
“I was beginning to have grace for myself, in terms of the self-realization. It was really important to me to try to be easier on myself and I guess forgive myself for many things that I held over my head that weren’t necessarily in my control, but it was just easy to blame it on myself.”
I think as of now, my favorite songs [are]…definitely I would have to say “I Think I’m in Love,” that one was a lot of fun to write and I really got to explore new elements sonically. I was playing with a lot of different sounds on this album, which was really cool to explore. What else…“I Don’t Care” was a lot of fun because, as you know, a lot of my “normal” music, at least music before this project, is kind of slow and it can be sad. I joke around and call it “sad boy music.” It’s kind of acoustic-based, I use a lot of piano, acoustic guitar, different light, ambient synth stuff, it’s very low-key and chill. And it’s based more on the lyrics and getting out that raw, emotional side of me. So for this album I wanted to have something different that people wouldn’t expect from me, so that’s why I have some songs like “I Don’t Care.” And it just has so much energy to it, which was why it felt really good to have those kinds of angry emotions expressed too, because it just went really well with the music that was more energetic and loud. It suited the lyrics better, whereas if I tried to do that with a slow song I don’t think it would have come across the way I wanted it to.
And then “Fall from Grace,” the title song. Really, I love that song because it kind of just wrapped up everything I was trying to say in one song, so that’s why I love that one too. But it’s always changing! [laughs]
“I Don’t Care” is such a fun song, and it’s been stuck in my head all week, it’s so catchy! It’s great that you brought up “Fall from Grace” because my next question is, the theme of grace comes up multiple times throughout the album: in the album title, the title track, and the first track “Grace,” but also in the lyrics of other songs. How does the overarching theme of grace tie into the story?
That is a great question! Again, it kind of goes with both sides of the album in terms of all the sorrow I was going through and also with the love and the hope for the future. In terms of the self-reflection and the sorrow I was experiencing, the idea of grace was really important to me. As you know and anyone knows, it’s so easy to criticize yourself for whatever, and sometimes it feels like you’re criticizing yourself for everything that’s happening. So I really wanted to talk about the struggles I was going through but in a new light. Which I really resonated with and felt now, where I was beginning to have grace for myself, in terms of the self-realization. It was really important to me to try to be easier on myself and I guess forgive myself for many things that I held over my head that weren’t necessarily in my control, but it was just easy to blame it on myself.
In terms of the sad songs about heartbreak and the anger…even though it might not come across this way, it was also a way for me to have grace for the people I was writing about as well and the situations I was experiencing. And also having grace on the overall situation, which is why I mentioned how it’s kind of a closing of a chapter and accepting things for what they are. It’s really hard to hold on to anything that’s pressing on your heart like that, so the idea of grace was really important in that way.
In terms of the title, Fall from Grace…you’ll see in the first song I say that “I used to think that I had everything.” For a while I thought that everything in my life was going really well, and it couldn’t get better than it was, and then a bunch of stuff was happening that I just felt like I was losing complete control. It’s a religious reference too, an angel falling from a high place. It all tied in that way, just hitting the ground really hard after you’re in such a high place and having that shock of reality that things are different now and you have to, like you said, pick up the pieces from where you are.
But then tying into the title from the other perspective, which is what the love songs talk about, I say that I would fall from grace to have that love, to have that thing that I really want. So in that sense it’s saying that I would purposefully lose everything great – or what I thought was great – to have something even better. That’s kind of how the title and the theme really came together in that way.
I love that, about how grace takes on so many meanings throughout the album. That’s a great message, about being graceful to yourself, grace to others, even those who have hurt you, and that feeling of a love that’s so strong that you’d be willing to risk it all and fall from grace for that love.
Last time we spoke, you talked about how you studied music production in college. Fall from Grace has such a professional, dynamic sound! There was some collaboration on this album with some of your friends helping to mix and master it, and one song features your friend Rebekah Perry (“Love Don’t Always Have to Work Like That”). What was the process behind making and producing the album like?
Oh my goodness, so this was both so fun but also a lot of work that was really crazy sometimes! So I wrote everything on this album and I recorded it myself from my computer at home. That’s what I usually do, which is why whenever I write music the whole experience feels very personal to me, because I’m just doing everything myself. And I’m really grateful for school for that as well, because I was able to receive that education to help enhance my passion. Also, I was able to network with a lot of my friends that I met at school who also share the same passion and who are really talented.
Usually my process when I record an album or an EP or whatever the project is, I’ll write and record everything myself and I’ll mix it to a point where I’m happy with the foundation of how it sounds. Then I’ll send it to my friend Joe [Morrongiello], who was also a music production major, and he takes it to that next step with the mixing. He kind of cleans it up a bit and polishes different areas that I mention, I might ask him to fix a few things, and he’s just so talented and patient. So what I would do is, I would finish a song on my end and then I would send it to him on Google Drive or something like that. Which is kinda challenging sometimes when you’re working remotely with somebody, because files can get messed up and we had to fix a lot of things. I’m really thankful for him because he was super patient for over a year while I worked on this, and he was so understanding and dedicated to my process and what I wanted from these songs. I’m super grateful to get to work with him, he’s just so talented.
“I really want to instill that message of hope, that things can get better. You might have to fall from that place where you think you’re untouchable to get to a better place. And have forgiveness and grace for yourself and other people.”
Then I would take what he would send me and I would send it to my other friend, Ian [Donach]. Which is funny because Ian and I have never actually met. He graduated a year before we did, and I believe he was also a music production major. But I actually virtually “met” him after I released the Perfect Stranger EP because he added me on Facebook and messaged me about how he really liked the EP, which was super kind. And we were just talking a lot and we ended up working together after that. And he’s exceptionally talented at mastering, which is basically, if anyone doesn’t know what mastering is, it’s that final polish of the song, making sure everything sounds okay, the volume level’s okay, and that basically it’s ready to be listened to either on someone’s device or even on the radio. It’s just that final polishing layer. So then I would send everything when I was done to him to put that final coat on. So that was basically the technical aspect of the collaborating.
I wasn’t going to have any features on this album because my music in general is very personal to me, it’s me telling my story. But I ended up talking to my friend Becky about this one song, “Love Don’t Always Have to Work Like That,” and the message really resonated with her. And I was like, “You know what? It would be really cool to have you on this song.” Because I’ve been friends with her for about ten years now, a whole decade, and she’s just so, so, so talented, her voice is incredible, she also writes music and is on Spotify…I thought it would be really fitting to have her on the song because I know she really felt what the song was talking about, too. I mean we talked about it several times during the course of our friendship, as we got older, so it felt naturally right to have her on the song. So I sent that [the song] to her and she would record her part and send the audio back to me, and I would basically throw everything together and mix it. That’s how that collaboration came to be.
That’s really cool, that just seems to define the way the world is now, how you haven’t even met your one friend [Ian] you collaborated with and now he’s helped out so much with the album. And that song you and Rebecca sang together is a really cool song, I love the message, and I also love the acoustic version you did on Instagram TV, that was pretty cool!
I so want to go into more detail about some of the songs, but I think I’ll save that for Part II of our interview, after the album is released and listeners can have a chance to hear the songs themselves. So I will just ask for now – what do you want your listeners to take away from Fall from Grace?
View this post on Instagram
That’s a good question. I mean, for me, speaking for myself, this album was really a way for me to process my emotions but also recall and really live in the moment of everything I was experiencing in real time while I was writing these songs. It was really just a way for me to story-tell, but also recap and really embrace my life and the people I was talking to and meeting, and the places I was going to, how everything was making me feel. And it gave me a lot of hope, because I’d never really been able to write love songs before – like I said before, as a joke, I write “sad boy” music [laughs]! So it felt really good to be in this place, where I am now.
I think I would like people to take away that, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how hard it is, no matter how bad it seems at that time, and it doesn’t feel like things can get better – I really want to instill that message of hope, that things can get better. You might have to fall from that place where you think you’re untouchable to get to a better place. And have forgiveness and grace for yourself and other people. I would say that’s my message from my album, and that’s what I would like people to take away from it.
I love that message, that’s a great message. And definitely one that I think is needed during these times. So those who pre-order the album on Bandcamp will receive an exclusive album lyric and picture booklet. Any information you can give away about this booklet, or is it a secret?
Yeah, I can talk a little bit about that! I won’t go into too much detail because we can talk about all of the imagery more deeply in the next part of the interview. But, in reference to your previous question about collaboration – I had the idea for this booklet back in the fall. I wanted to incorporate a visual element into this body of work this time. I’ve never really done that before. So I ended up reaching out to someone, again, from school that I knew through one of my roommates, and she’s very, very talented at photography, her name’s Angelica [Pasquali]. I reached out to her and she totally, totally took in my vision for what I wanted to do with this album.
So we did this photoshoot and I compiled some of those images with the lyrics for these songs and I turned it into a picture and lyric booklet. And since everything’s online, especially right now, I thought it would be cool to distribute that with the album – basically like when you get a CD and it comes with a cool booklet you can look at, just to have a deeper insight on the album and some of the inspiration and the visuals and the imagery I had while I was writing it. I thought that was a fun idea, so that’s why I created that for the album. So when people pre-order it on Bandcamp, they’ll be able to get that. It’s about 40 pages, so it took a while for me to make, which is really cool [for me] to figure out how to do that as well, so I hope people can enjoy that too.
This is such an amazing project, so many different parts to it. That’s one of my favorite things about the indie music and art community, all the collaboration and everyone working together [on a project], so it’s really exciting.
You can pre-order Fall from Grace on Bandcamp now, and can stream it on Spotify and get it on Apple Music, iTunes, and everywhere else August 28. Stay tuned for Part II of this interview, where Drew and I discuss more about the messages behind Fall from Grace and the visual elements to the project! Thanks again Drew for sitting down and talking to me, I’m so excited for your album to come out this Friday!
Of course, it’s my pleasure to be here talking to you, thank you so much!
Stay tuned for Part II of this interview, where Drew and I talk more about the message behind Fall from Grace and the visual elements of the project. In the meantime, you can visit Drew on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and listen to his music on Spotify and Bandcamp.
This interview is Part I of a two-part interview. Click here for Part II.
This article originally appeared on the Wix site.