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Interview: Role Model on 'For The People In The Back', 'Blind', and upcoming music.

Interview: Role Model on 'For The People In The Back', 'Blind', and upcoming music.

"I stay pretty numb, never fell for anyone / You seem similar, always end up getting hurt," Role Model sings in his latest single 'blind', a heartfelt proclamation of love in the modern age - written about someone he fell for through social media, without ever speaking to them.

It's this genuine expression of emotion which makes Role Model's music connect with over 1.4 million people each month on Spotify, from his 'oh, how perfect' EP last year, to the confident declaration of 'For The People In The Back' where he realises, "I'm thriving / I just decided I'm fine by myself."

We caught up with Role Model (during an impromptu solo drive out to Malibu) about his two latest songs, toxic masculinity, and what's to come in his next project...

...I don't know any successful people that have not hit that really low point before the high point. I think in LA you see it a lot. You see these kids that struggle to figure out what they want to do with their life because they were given everything as a kid, so there's nothing to really work towards, and I think going through that really deep hole just pushes you to to go higher.

CDM: I love 'For The People In The Back'. You sound so confident and empowered in the song. Was there a feeling of satisfaction when you wrote that song, in feeling fine by yourself?
ROLE MODEL: Yes, definitely. Every song that I write, it feels good just to get that off. I mean, it's a therapeutic thing, no matter what the subject of the song is, but to kind of have people telling me that they can hear the confidence and sort of a change in the tone has made me feel really good. Because it is a very new thing for me to feel this self-confidence, but yeah, it's amazing.

CDM: Is it important to realise the most important person and the person you should rely on the most in life is yourself?  
ROLE MODEL: Yeah! I have been trying to kind of like drive that into my friends' brains forever. <laughs> It is something that I've lived by for the past four years, and it's just a really difficult thing to get people to understand because everyone's different and I don't expect everyone to be able to just enjoy spending time with themselves and enjoy doing things by themselves, like driving two hours to a beach in the morning randomly by yourself. You can't expect everyone to do that because everyone's different and everyone has their own thing, but I think it's super important to enjoy spending time by yourself because it kind of makes everything else in life a lot easier.

CDM: You sing in 'For The People In The Back: "They start asking for some free shit and I'mma leave quick / Funny how some people change up when you change up." It’s interesting how the people in your orbit change when you change or experience success. For example, there’s celebrities who have talked about how there is an expectation to always pay when they hang out with their friends. Do relationships and friendships become harder to maintain when that balance changes?
ROLE MODEL: Yeah, if you're surrounding yourself with people that don't want you to change, or don't support you changing for the better, I think that you should remove those people from your life - because I think change is good and I think you have to grow and that's what happens. That is why I mentioned it in the first verse because it kind of introduces the whole song, and the story for all the songs that are to come, I think.

CDM: Rex Orange County sings about a similar theme throughout his last album ‘Pony’ when he sings in ’10/10’, "I had to think about my oldest friends / Now, I no longer hang with them," and in 'Stressed Out' he says, "They wanna take what's yours / They wanna go for dinner on your name." Do you think it’s one of the hardest things about being a musician today, experiencing the struggle that can come with growth and success?
ROLE MODEL: I don't think that I have experienced it to that capacity yet because I don't surround myself with that many people. I have one or two friends in LA and then I have my friends across the map, but I haven't experienced it because I don't really want a bunch of friends. I don't want to make a bunch of new friends, which kind of brings us back to being happy by yourself. I'm happy by myself. But I think that it will come, and I think that there inevitably are going to be people coming into the circle and I'm going to experience that, and there will probably be more songs about that. But I feel lucky to just kind of be able to go to dinner by myself and just pay for myself. <laughs>

CDM: You reference toxic masculinity when you say, "And all dudes who acting tough could use some help on how to love." Why do you think toughness has always been a societal expectation throughout generations of what people expect of masculinity?
ROLE MODEL: That is a really good question. And I don't know. I think it has a lot to do with how you're raised, and I think it has a lot to do with the household that you grew up in. There are so many things that it comes from and I don't think that I ever really felt the need to like, impress my dad, or join certain teams when I was younger. There was never any pressure for me as a kid to be a man - that was never a sentence coming out of my dad's mouth. I think that kind of starts to get stuck inside kids' heads and they grow up to be those dudes in the club who literally just go out at night to get in fights. I've never understood it; I will never understand it. I don't really spend much time trying to analyse it, but I think it just has to do with how you're raised. I'm lucky enough to have been raised by a really welcoming family.

CDM: In the bridge you sing, "And don't come any closer, I'm thriving / I just decided I'm fine by myself." To make that decision to be 'fine by myself', do you need to go through the 'deep shit' that you sing about to get to that place of realisation?
ROLE MODEL: Yeah. I was actually just having a conversation with my friend Spencer about this. He came to me and he was really stuck. This was like a year ago and I was still pretty in the thick of it. I was really in that dark place still. I just told him that you have to... I don't know any successful people that have not hit that really low point before the high point. I think in LA you see it a lot. You see these kids that struggle to figure out what they want to do with their life because they were given everything as a kid, so there's nothing to really work towards, and I think going through that really deep hole just pushes you to to go higher.

CDM: The whole song melodically is really interesting - I love the bridge and how it builds, and also the intonation on ‘3, 6, 5’. Is experimenting musically something you enjoy when working on music?
ROLE MODEL: Yeah, I think that was the first song where I really wanted to get weird with it. There's a lot of experimenting with that song. Also, specifically, the '3, 6, 5' line was a big Mac Miller reference. There's a song that he made, and I remember constantly referencing that song to my mixing engineer. There was a lot of inspiration that came into play with that, and Mac was a big one for this.

CDM: What was running through your mind when writing your new song 'blind'?  
ROLE MODEL: That was about someone. I basically wrote that about someone that I kind of fell for over social media, without even speaking to them. And so, I wrote that love song, pretty much just staring at an Instagram page. It was before I had messaged them or talked to them or anything. So that was kind of a love song for someone, and just basically telling them what you think they're going to be like. I was literally in awe - that song is really me being in awe and being like, 'I've never seen something quite like you - but at the same time, you're a lot like me.' It's just kind of an assumption from social media I guess.

CDM: You do sound really sincere in the song ("I'm only trying to be sincere"), and the lyrics come across in such a punchy manner. Is sincerity important to you, both in real life and in your songwriting?
ROLE MODEL: 100%. I think that's also kind of the idea behind Role Model - that there's no separation between me and Role Model. When I'm onstage, that's me, and when I'm in videos, that's me - I dress the same. It's the exact same and I just want everything about this to be an open book. I mean, that's why I'm not wearing like, glitter-covered suits onstage, I want everyone to feel like they know who I am and I'm not too afraid of it.

CDM: What can you tell us at the moment about your next upcoming project?
ROLE MODEL: 'For The People In The Back' is the best way to introduce it. I've said it before, but I think the whole project just has the same tone of confidence. I mean, even with the love songs, it's me being a lot more confident and saying exactly what's on my mind. Also, these are the first releases after I took vocal lessons. So listening back to my old project, when I listen to this one, it also just feels like two separate worlds, which I'm really excited to have people hear. But I would say the whole project just has a brand new tone of confidence, but it's still me and the lyrics are still me.

CDM: You've been sharing a lot of important resources on social media around the Black Lives Matter movement. For anyone reading this interview, what things would you say are integral that everyone do to better themselves?
ROLE MODEL: I'm already kind of seeing it happen, but it's starting to fade, unfortunately. People's timelines are like, 'Twitter's completely gone back to normal,' which is not good. It seems like it's dying out, but it's not. There are people still fighting for this, and there are still petitions to be signed, and there are still cops that are not being held responsible for murders. I think that there's plenty of things to do. I try to keep posting as much as I can when they come to me. I'm gonna continue to give resources to people and try and make it as easy for people as possible. And vote!

Role Model's new song 'blind' is out now - watch the music video below...

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