AudioLust & HigherLove

SG Lewis

AudioLust & HigherLove

Just two weeks after the release of his 2021 debut, times, SG Lewis began working on what would come next. “I started to throw stuff at the wall to see what stuck,” the singer-songwriter, DJ and producer tells Apple Music. “I may have lost my mind at some point in the process. Not in a negative way, but I really didn't give a shit. There was no context for it. The world was shut and there was no scene.” Where that locked-down world had led Lewis to embrace disco-indebted dance floor anthems purpose-built to bring joy and escapism on times, its follow-up, AudioLust & HigherLove, is a free-roaming affair on which Lewis pulls from euphoric ’80s pop, yacht rock, his devotion to Daft Punk and more—while still featuring the kaleidoscopic production that’s made him a much-sought-out pop collaborator. If it confounds expectations, that’s the idea. “There's part of me that just wanted to show that I'm not just a DJ/producer guy,” admits the London-based artist. “I'm definitely trying to prove a point of some sort.” Lewis may not have set out with a concept for his second record, but one rapidly began to emerge as he was making it. AudioLust & HigherLove is, as its title suggests, an album about lust—explored in a “rushy, darker, more intense” first half—and love, expressed with a “floating, psychedelic, warm world” that brings the album to its close. It’s “yin and yang” and “two sides of the same coin”, says Lewis. But it also sounds like the experience of moving from a toxic, turbulent relationship into one of ease, contentment and love. Read on as Lewis guides us through that journey, one track at a time. “Intro” “I feel like the intro is a palate cleanser. I wanted to set the scene sonically for the front half of the album and to immediately introduce the darkness and intensity of it. It just felt like it needed more of an introduction before going on the journey than last time.” “Infatuation” “I nearly called the album ‘Infatuation’ at one point—it’s such a particular emotion and it has such a darkness to it. The implication is that you’re not right of mind; there's a manic nature to it. I was listening to ’80s pop at the time, and I wanted to write a song that was kind of like ‘Every Breath You Take’ because it has that darkness to it. That goes a step further, though.” “Holding On” “In so much ’80s music and yacht rock, they don’t pull any punches. I think that's what’s most admirable about that era, and the reason it can be classified as cheesy at times. It was something that was so missing in pop music when I was making the album. For the ending, I did a synth solo; I did a Prince-style, pitched-down vocal speech; I did an instrumental break. But I was like, ‘Fuck it. If I'm ever going to put a ripping guitar solo somewhere, I'm going to do it here.’ There's a little wink and a nod in there. I'm in on the joke.” “Call On Me” [with Tove Lo] “Tove Lo is one of the coolest people ever, and she’s also an unbelievable writer. I had the beat that me and Orlando [Higginbottom, aka Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs] [did] and the workings of the instrumental. I wanted to put something in front of her that I knew was good. She worked very fast and is very clinical. In the past, I’ve been a bit haphazard, but she taught me to step back and to analyse the songs and realise it can be improved. So there were about 10 versions of this song, and I genuinely feel like the best version is the song that went out.” “Oh Laura” “It’s such an angular song and sounds so fun, but the lyrical content is messy. This song is probably the least me in many ways, but I just really wanted to make an ’80s pop song. Both Orlando and I come from typical dance-music backgrounds, and I wanted to make a song that had nothing to do with dance music. This song isn’t a true story about someone in particular. I don’t think I would be able to put out a song that is that brutal!” “Missing You” “This was made the day after ‘Holding On’ and I was just chucking ’80s references into beat ideas. But I think there were still the remnants of making dance music—I wasn’t deep into the yacht-rock hole that I fell into. There was a darkness and a rustiness to this. It made me think of lots of classic ’80s references, like [TV show] Knight Rider. The idea of driving forward. I wanted a song with a synth line that, if I played it to a crowd, they might sing it back to me. I was almost trying to imagine a football crowd singing it.” “Another Life” “At this point, I was aware I might have scared off my entire fanbase. I wanted this to sound like a 2010s progressive house song. The world was starting to open back up and I was like, ‘Sunsets, parties.’ I just wanted to reintroduce some themes of dance music, so people didn't think I'd completely lost my mind and stop listening forever. It was just me reminding myself that I like dance music. I wanted it to be cinematic with strings, and a bit dramatic.” “Fever Dreamer” [with Charlotte Day Wilson and Channel Tres] “After Charlotte and I [worked on this song], she texted me the next day and she was like, ‘Oh my god, I love this. It sounds like a gay club at 4 am in Berlin or something.’ I was like, ‘That's the best situation this song could find itself in.’ I’d have Channel Tres on every track if I could. The difference with the features on this album is that no one was allowed to put pen to paper without deciding which side of the album [it was for]. It was like, ‘Here's the album concept, here are some instrumentals from each side, pick a side.’” “Epiphany” “This song felt like a moment of realisation. It’s meant to be an awakening from that previous state of mind. The 303 acid line came partly from Daft Punk and also from the outro of the Tame Impala song ‘Breathe Deeper’. I just love that he introduced a 303 in the midst of this pop song. It’s jarring, but also really cool.” “Lifetime” “The fact that the melody of this matches up with ‘Infatuation’ isn’t something I intentionally did. But people picked up on that. If I was to pick one track from each side to summarise each [part of the album], I think it would be ‘Infatuation’ and ‘Lifetime’. This song is carefree—there’s no nuance to it. It’s about [songwriter and collaborator] Ed Drewett and his wife. He told us the story of how, when he was 12, he walked up to his wife in a shopping centre in Essex and asked for her number. Then for the best part of 15 years they were friends who grew up in the same town, but they were always dating other people. One day he was on a flight home from LA, got really drunk and texted her saying, ‘I've waited my whole life to tell you, but I'm completely in love with you.’ I knew we had to write that song immediately.” “Plain Sailing” “This is a real wink. Because yacht rock had been such an influence, this song ‘Plain Sailing’ was just so funny to me. It slotted into the second half of the album, but I was listening to Christopher Cross’ ‘Sailing’ a lot at the time. The fact that one of the biggest yacht rock songs ever is called ‘Sailing’ is just so fucking jokes.” “Vibe Like This” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign) [with Lucky Daye] “This is deep in the yacht rock hole. I made this beat with Conor Albert and it just had a real joy and lightness to it. Ty Dolla $ign and I worked on a song together that didn't end up going on a project for someone else. But we built a mutual respect from that. I had a session with Lucky and said, ‘Why don’t you join for that?’ Watching those two go back and forth on the mic was pretty incredible.” “Different Light” “I wanted this to be psychedelic and floaty. I wanted it to be like a daydream. It acts as an interlude of sorts, but it’s really a state of psychedelic joy and fun.” “Something About Your Love” “Daft Punk had retired and I really missed them—the influence they’ve had on me is very clear. I wanted to make an ode to them. It’s not melodically, chord-wise or lyrically the same as ‘Digital Love’, but it’s very clear what it’s meant to be. It was like, ‘I want to try and be Daft Punk today,’ but just through the decisions I make as a producer and artist, it ends up with a bit of myself in there.” “Honest” “This is all about the full-circle moment. I talk about the yin and yang element of the album and how sometimes that idealised, perfection version of love and romance can fall apart. There’s a danger of it being happily ever after, but I think that often isn’t the case in reality. It’s taking you back to the start of the album. I wanted it to be reflective without being depressing, and to be a state of acceptance and sadness but not heaviness. It’s a question mark.”

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