Infectious Magazine’s Managing Editor, Sami Marshall, recently caught up with Canadian singer/songwriter Coleman Hell while on tour in Florida. The two chatted about his unique mash-up music style, the huge success of “2 Heads,” and the genre of movies he secretly loves.
Check out the full exclusive interview after the jump!
To hear more from Coleman Hell, you can purchase a CD here.
Hell is currently on tour, so to catch him live, you can buy concert tickets here.
Infectious Magazine: How are you and how is tour treating you?
Coleman Hell: Tour is awesome. It seems like it’s been going on for so long. I did a month in America, then I went back to Canada for a month on tour with twenty one pilots, and I’ve been back here for another month. It’s been a long, adventure-filled experience.
IM: So you just released “Fireproof,” which is an amazing song! Have you been playing it at your shows?
CH: Yeah, we’ve been opening with it actually. When we were on tour with twenty one pilots, we opened with it every show there. We got so many people asking about it and tweeting about it. I didn’t even know what song I was going to put out next, and it was getting such a big reaction from everyone that it kind of helped me decide to release it. Playing it live is what made it come out.
IM: So the reaction from the crowd has been really good? It’s doing really well on the charts.
CH: Yeah, for it only being out for like three days. It’s climbing up.
IM: Your music is definitely a mash-up of multiple genres. How did you come to love all these genres initially and turn your love into something that works so well?
CH: My parents have a pretty eclectic taste in music. So growing up, just riffling through their collection. My mom used to work at a record store, and she would dub everything on to these cassettes when things would come in. So I had all these tapes I would listen to as a kid. I’m also a real ADD person when it comes to my taste in things. I’m never real comfortable in one genre for too long. That’s how I listen to music anyways, and also how I make it.
IM: This is something I’ve always been interested in, but have never asked any musician – do you just know when you have an amazing song on your hands? Because “2 Heads” blew up! Did you know it was something special from the beginning or was it a complete surprise to you?
CH: I did. I knew it was probably the best thing I had made, to that point. I had been saving up so much music and then, finally, when I made that I was just like, “Okay, this is the best song I’ve got right now and I’m gonna put it out there.” I knew people would like it. I thought it would do pretty well, but I didn’t think it would get as big as it did. I was surprised, because at that point I was just making music in my livingroom and releasing it on the Internet. So in my head I was like, “The Internet will like this.” That’s what I thought, and now everybody likes it. It’s on the radio everywhere. I guess I didn’t expect it to do that well, but I knew that it was a good song.
IM: Yeah, I remember the first time I heard it, and all I could think was, “What is this?! It’s so different!” But it’s so good! Now, you’re from Canada. How does the music scene differ between here [The U.S.] and there?
CH: I think specifically, I live in Toronto and have for like five years, and it’s a very hip hop, R&B, dance hall kind of city. So I think that has influenced me in the past. Canada and America are just very eclectic. When I tour around here, it’s just so crazy how different one place is to the next. I was just in Memphis and walking around Beale Street and hearing all these soul, funk bands. And then you go to Atlanta where it’s really hip hop heavy. I don’t know if it’s that different in Canada. I guess America probably has more variety because there’s more people and more culture.
IM: You’ve been sharing the stage with a lot of big name bands. You mentioned you were on tour with twenty one pilots. Is there anyone that you would want to work with or tour with that you haven’t yet?
CH: I think work with, I like having control over songs that I write, so it’s always hard for me to think of somebody that I would want to work with. I’d probably want to work with maybe an electronic producer. I really like this guy Flume. Someone like that, where I could still write the song and they could make it into something else. And then with tour, I’m not really sure. I’d like to go on tour with a big DJ. I think that would be cool. I guess the music I make isn’t fully like that, but it’s still dance music, party music. I think that would be a better fit than it seems.
IM: Yeah! I think so too! I hear your music, and, going based off your EP, it’s very eclectic. You have a some dance stuff, you have pop stuff. I think you would fit in with a lot of artists just because of how varied your music is.
IM: You’re up for a couple of Indie Awards. One of which is Pop Artist of the Year. So congratulations, that’s awesome!
CH: Yeah, thanks!
IM: Ria Mae [an artist Coleman has been touring with] is also up for this same award.
CH: Oh, is she?!
IM: So apparently you didn’t know that, but is there any friendly competition between you two?
CH: We’re gonna fight to the death.
IM: Prove it tonight who deserves it!
CH: Yeah, whoever plays the best set tonight should win! But no, I don’t think so. I mean, for me, we’re on all these alternative radio stations, so to be up for Pop Artist of the Year is kind of funny to me. But I guess I make poppy music too. I don’t really know what I’m considered. I’ll take it though!
IM: So are you going to be up there for the show?
CH: I think so. I’m playing St. Petersburg tomorrow, and then I’m back in Toronto for a week, so I should be there for it. Then I go to the UK. Lots of travelling this year.
IM: Speaking of travelling, how do you keep your energy up? Like you said, you’re here in Florida, then you’re up to Canada. Then you’re going from California to Ohio within the same week. How do you do it?
CH: It helps that I am on tour with my two best friends. They’re who back me up on stage. It kind of feels like you’re on a permanent road trip. You’re goofing around and messing around with each other, so that keeps things more fun. And then trying to be as healthy as possible.
IM: You’ve been doing a lot of festivals, as well as venue shows. Do you have a preference?
CH: I like them both for a different reason. I think with this specific album that I have coming out, it’s really summer oriented. I recorded it in a cabin with the doors open, and it was very inspired by nature, I guess. So to me, it feels like the ideal place to hear all my new stuff is at a festival. So I’m excited to play all these new songs at those kinds of venues. I think that’s what I’m most excited to play this year, anyways.
IM: Is there a full-length coming soon, or are you planning on another EP?
CH: Yeah, it’s a full-length. I think Drake just put out an album with like 20 songs, it’s not going to be like that. It’s probably going to be like 10 or 12 songs, max, but it has a concept to it and there’s interludes and stuff. So it’s not like an EP, it’s more like my debut album.
IM: Oh awesome! Is that coming out later this year?
CH: Yeah, it’s going to be out before the summer is over.
IM: Over at Infectious, we have this feature that we just started, but we ask musicians and people in the industry if they could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be? So I pose this same question to you.
CH: If I could change one thing? I feel like it’s constantly changing already. I don’t know, I feel like a lot of the reason I even have success right now is because it’s so different. It’s harder now for artists and labels to monetize things. Some people are against streaming. I think streaming is what helped me get successful. There are things like Twitter where you can talk to your fans. There’s a lot of ways the music industry is better than it used to be, too. Maybe it’s harder to make a ton of money. But I really don’t know what I would change, to be honest.
IM: I guess that’s a good thing if you’re completely satisfied with it.
CH: Yeah, I just accept these sort of negative sides with the good. I don’t know if it’s something I can specifically think of to change off the top of my head. In Canada, I don’t know if this is across the board or where people have this, but there are so any arts grants. If I want to make a music video, I can just apply for a grant and I can get however much I need. There’s so much money for the arts. You just have to get someone to write it for you, or write it yourself, and pitch your story. There are quarterly things where people get money. So maybe if that could be more widely spread in the world.
IM: Yeah, that would be cool! I don’t know if that’s something that’s here in the U.S., but it should be. It’s pretty cool!
IM: So, for the readers and your fans to get to know you a little better, what are some of your guilty pleasures?
CH: I like romantic comedies. Not like the super cheesy ones, but like anything involving John Cusack.
IM: Oh my gosh, he’s my favorite!
CH: “Jerry Maguire,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Annie Hall,” all the classics. I love those kinds of movies, which is kind of lame.
IM: No, it’s very cool.
IM: So what’s next for you, besides a bunch of touring and an upcoming album?
CH: I’m going to be touring for most of the year, releasing this record. I’ve got more singles and videos. Just more of what you’d expect. I have some collaborations with some EDM artists that I think are going to be coming out this summer too. So some more one-off singles. I’m just gonna keep grinding for the rest of the year.
IM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CH: I came here last year to play this festival and it was so much fun and the crowd was great! I’m genuinely excited to be back here.
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