Kid Hastings’ on Summer EP and Live Shows – Traklife Exclusive Interview
Kid Hastings, also known as Jake McEvoy, is a New Jersey-based indie rock/pop artist who is signed to the LA-born creative studio, Ourros. Following the success of his 2019 debut EP, Golden, Hastings’ first single off his forthcoming EP gained lots of momentum as the #1 on Spotify’s Fresh Finds Indie. He subsequently dropped “Backwards” in February with 465K Spotify streams already under his belt.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Jake about what’s to come:
CD: Thanks so much for taking the time today, Jake! So this is your last semester at USC, right?
KH: Of course! Second to last. I’m a junior but I took a bunch of extra classes and I’m going to graduate early.
CD: That’s awesome. Well, I wanted to do this feature because I’m a big fan of all you’ve been putting out.
KH: Thank you so much! I’m glad that you like all of it.
CD: You’ve released two singles thus far in 2021 and you’re newly signed to Ourros. How have these release procedures under your new management differed from your DIY experience?
KH: It’s definitely more planned out. Before I would put out music just to put it out, but now working with John Van Liere and the rest of Ourros, a lot more thought goes into when and how we’re going to put out music. It feels more formal I guess is a good way to put it.
CD: Peter Husting, the founder of Red Bloom Inc, was actually the one who introduced me to your new material.
KH: Peter’s a great friend! We actually met in a music law class [at USC] and discussed doing PR through Red Bloom for my upcoming releases.
CD: That’s so great. I want to talk about the “Call Me Up” music video. Could you discuss its concept a bit and what it conveys about gender roles?
KH: Ava Doorley [of Ourros] and I came up with the concept for that video. The main point it conveys is a battle of identities. For some context, I had come out of a couple relationships that left me feeling turned around and a little bit confused. I was at odds with myself, so we wanted to come up with a video that was explicitly confrontational between two versions of myself. We figured what better way to express different versions of myself than through masculinity and femininity, which are both big components of my identity. In high school, I played varsity football but also was involved in theater; I wanted to touch on these clashing personalities in the video. The ending, however, can ultimately be left up to interpretation.
CD: Can you tell me how your intentions with the initial songwriting aligned with how the video turned out?
KH: The song is definitely about a specific experience I had after a very short-lived relationship, which came right after a very long relationship. It put me in a state of confusion, not really knowing what I wanted. The song came out as a plea to return to the long-term relationship that I did feel comfortable in but that got taken away. A common theme of my videos is that they don’t relate to the songs in a literal sense, but thematically they still ring true. In this case, in terms of the discomfort and inner confrontation. I actually just finished a video for another song that’s going to be on this project, called “Off Guard”, with my friend Aamir Khuller. And it’s equally not about the song (laughs).
CD: Great, ‘cause I’m going to ask about what’s next for you. But could you first speak to the filming approach you took for “Backwards”, your subsequent single and video release?
KH: Yeah, that was just kinda like me and my friend Josh wanting to do something really weird. We storyboarded a video that we would film entirely backwards, in reverse, at two times the speed. So I had to learn to literally sing the song backwards at two times the speed. It was so wildly difficult to do.
CD: I was going to say, ‘cause the video doesn’t cut does it?
KH: And it’s one shot the whole time, yeah.
CD: How long was the shoot that day?
KH: Probably like five hours. It was just about getting everything set up and then waiting until the right time of day. I think we ran through it maybe three or four times, you know, ‘cause I get water poured on me and a bunch of different s**t happens.
CD: And the wardrobe changes too!
KH: Yeah, so everything had to be set up purposefully. But yeah, it was so hard to learn those words. Basically what I did was I took the song, recorded myself singing it, reversed the clip, and then I assigned words that sounded like the words I was mouthing. I learned a minute-and-a-half of gibberish that I sang while filming. Fun stuff.
CD: Definitely an ambitious approach, but you guys executed it incredibly well. So you self-produced both of these singles, on top of your whole repertoire; is it safe to assume this will be the trend for the upcoming EP?
KH: Yes. Yeah, everything I put out is self-produced. And all the stuff I’m doing for the summer too.
CD: How have you thought about bringing these productions to the live stage? Do you have a band you typically perform with?
KH: Yes, dude, I cannot f*****g wait. I have a really sick band, made up of kids from USC whom I love. When I would perform in 2018 and 2019, I would just take my songs and we would make them a lot harder – more of like a hard rock kind of set. We would do this even with more mellow songs, like [Amy Winehouse’s] Valerie, which became a staple of our set. We turned it into this pumped up rock version of the song, which people loved because they knew it. I grew up in the New Jersey indie rock scene, so I bring a lot of that to my live performing.
CD: Regarding the actual project, does it have a name that you can talk about? What else can we expect from this next single and video pairing?
KH: The next single is the title track for the EP, which is called Off Guard. There will probably be two more singles that’ll come out, and then the project is going to come in the summer. A lot of the music has been ready for a while, but we’ve been waiting for the right time to put it out. We switched around the singles a lot, but I know for a fact that “Off Guard” will be the next single I put out in about a month.
ÇD: That’s kind of been how you’ve been doing it. “Call Me Up” came in January, “Backwards” in February, and in another month we’ll get “Off Guard”.
KH: Yeah, “Off Guard” is the one that I’m most excited about. So I’m pretty stoked about that one.
CD: Amazing. That pretty much wraps up all the ground I wanted to cover with you today, Jake, but I really appreciate you taking the time for this interview. I look forward to when we can all congregate again so we can see these songs played live!
KH: Yeah, dude, I know. You’re tellin’ me… thanks again for reaching out!