Catch up with singer-songwriter Garrett Hazen and listen to his new single "Some Brutal Love" off his forthcoming debut solo EP.
What would you say first got you interested in music and songwriting?
Garrett: I first got interested in music from a guitar teacher I had back when I was in 5th grade; he started showing me a lot of Nirvana and Radiohead and Led Zeppelin and, pretty much from that point, I just really started getting invested in music. As I grew up I got involved with jazz and playing with different groups in high school and forming different bands. But I would say my interest in songwriting really started a little more recently. As I started to work with Spencer Riley, the producer on this single that came out and on the EP that I'll be releasing soon, I started recording guitars on his record and our workflow was pretty natural so we just started to write some music together.
Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were happy with?
The first song that we wrote was actually one that we'll be releasing on this new EP that I'll be dropping and it's called "Can't". I remember we were listening a lot to artists like Blake Mills, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Radiohead and stuff like that and I came up with this guitar line that was very Blake Mills-ish and we ended up just writing a song around it. I was really happy with it and it was a great feeling.
Which other musicians would you say you've been influenced?
Blake Mills is one. In my earlier years I was really influenced by, as I mentioned, Radiohead and Led Zeppelin. I've also just really engaged with jazz music throughout my life, artists like Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Jim Hall; I love all that kind of stuff. Recently I've really liked artists like Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and folksier things like Hozier.
If you were going to make a playlist for your fans, what are a few songs you would have to include?
I think I would put, just for the sake of listening to it, "Someday My Prince Will Come" by Miles Davis, I love that song. That doesn't speak too much to my sound, but it speaks a lot to who I am as a person and the music I've engaged with early on in my life. I would say "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin is pretty big and that was very foundational to me. Oh, and "Gimme Something Good" by Ryan Adams is a song I really like.
Is there an artist you'd recommend everyone take a listen to?
Blake Mills is probably the number one. He's produced a lot of records that people have probably heard but as far as his own original music, it's not as widely spread as some of the stuff that he's produced but I think his artistry is unreal.
Do you have a favorite place to get coffee or lunch?
Yeah, I live up in Sherman Oaks and I just moved there so I'm trying to vibe out the area a little bit but one of my favorite coffee shops is Intelligentsia, I love that coffee shop. There's a great lunch place in our area called Crave Café that I really like too - and they have great coffee.
If you had to pick, would you choose cats or dogs?
Definitely dogs! 150% dogs.
Otis Redding or Sam Cooke?
Cold War Kids or Hozier?
Oh man. I would say Cold War Kids.
Kid Cudi or Drake?
Beyonce or Taylor Swift?
How would you describe your sound to someone who hadn't heard your music?
I would describe it as raw and a little bit broken down. I think a lot of music today is very influenced by '80s sounds and certain pop things and chorus and guitar and stuff and I don't think that's this sound, this sound is very focused on raw and natural sounds and certain gritty sounds. I would describe it like that and raw and natural are the two big words that I would use.
What were your inspirations behind your new single "Some Brutal Love"?
I was inspired by a lot of those rock sounds and a movement from a lot more processed sounds with big delays and choruses and a lot of effects like that; I was interested more in just overdriving my guitar through [laughs] an old, crappy, Fender amp that I've had for a long time. As far as the sound of it, that's really what I was influenced by. Lyrically, I would say I've been influenced by my experience growing up in Orange County in LA and interested in what my relationships have become and certain frustrations I've had with myself in experiencing what it's like to be in the music industry, both as a player and now as an artist. I'd say that that's what it's about.
Could you tell us more about this upcoming EP and what we can expect to hear?
We'll be releasing soon the date in which I'll do my EP release show and release the EP. As far as what they can expect to hear, I think "Some Brutal Love" is a pretty good taste of what they can expect. I think that's probably all I want to say about that [laughs].
Would you say you've got a favorite song from this EP?
Yeah, there's definitely a favorite song. I won't give away the name of it yet but I've played it at a couple of shows, so if people want to hear it before the EP release they can come out to one of my shows. In that song, I think I dive a little bit deeper into those kinds of relationships that I mentioned previously and there's definitely one song in the EP that I think I put a little bit more of myself into and it was a little bit less of an analysis of my outside world and maybe a little bit more of an analysis about myself.
How would you sum up this EP in one sentence?
This EP is focused on the raw and the natural, both in emotion and sound.
What do you hope your listeners are able to take away from your music?
I would hope that people can listen to my music and that it wouldn't just be a fleeting moment or something that's just caught up in the noise on a playlist or something, but I hope that they would actually engage with it and respond to it with some sort of interest; whether it be emotionally engaging or just being interested in even the sounds that we created. I hope that people can react to it in a way that would be substantial.