Bea Miller Wants You To ‘Feel Something Different’ With Her New EP

The visual spell cast by Euphoria still has a hold over fans even a year after its HBO debut, inspiring a trend that took TikTok by storm just last summer. Fans shared makeup transformations that showcased their unique spins on the wild, couture-level glam concocted by makeup artist Donni Davy — Rue’s glittering teardrops; Jules’s dramatic eyelash spikes — in short clips set to a mashup of Labrinth’s “Still Don’t Know My Name” and Bea Miller’s lyrically numb breakout “Feel Something.”

“Clearly, I can’t do my makeup at all,” Miller tells MTV News over Zoom, her hair pulled into a ponytail. “I was like, fuck, I want to make one of these, but I don’t know how.” It’s a surprising, even bashful, statement coming from the rising 21-year-old pop singer: Miller made her first major performance in 2012 when she performed on The X Factor at the age of 13. Since then, her silky voice has been filtered through two full-length albums, including collaborations with the rapper 6lack and the British electronic twosome Snakehips. For her latest project, Elated!, she plans to release a music video for every track on the EP, each shot from her living room. Her close creative partner, Gina Gizella Manning, set up the shots, while Miller handled all the hair and makeup herself.

“We tried to find light in darkness as much as we could,” she says. “And we’re like, well, this pandemic is kind of ruining our lives, but at least we can kind of use this as a way to get more creative.” In spite of its sugary sound, Elated! strikes a serious tone, plunging into politics both personal and national. On “Hallelujah,” she points out the disconnect of the rhetoric of self-care while taking aim directly at the president, singing: “How am I supposed to work on myself / When there are Nazis in a big White House? Uh / It seems ridiculous to live in Hell.” Joined by the Oregon-born rapper Aminé, the collection also features a groovy update to her breakout hit, “Feel Something Different.”

Miller admits that staying positive during quarantine has been a constant challenge, but the impact of her music on its listeners is not lost on her. “I’m glad I created something to make people feel a little bit better, at least a little bit more understood,“ she says. With Elated! out today (October 23), Miller spoke to MTV News about watching Lizzo take on the Euphoria challenge, creating music videos from home, and what costume her dog, Ollie, will be wearing this Halloween.

MTV News: “Feel Something,” of course, blew up on TikTok. What’s it like getting to actually see everyone listening to and having fun to your song?

Miller: Watching everybody make TikToks with the “Feel Something” mashup with the Euphoria song has been really wild. For a while, I was kind of jealous in a way… I felt like I was watching from the sidelines.

Lizzo made one with the song, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s weird when, as an artist, you’re also a fan — when you recognize and realize that certain artists you love may have actually heard some of your music before. It’s a very weird, startling feeling. I just remember thinking, like, Lizzo probably doesn’t know who I am. But she knows my song, she’s heard me sing before, and that really blew my mind.

MTV News: Are you a fan of Euphoria?

Miller: Oh yeah, I’m a huge fan. The first day of my first tour last year, we had an Airbnb in Texas where we all piled onto the couch and watched the entirety of Season 1. Me and three or four people in my crew and band sat on the couch for the entire day.

MTV News: You wrote and released that song in 2019, so why do you think it’s resonating with people now?

Miller: I had assumed that it had already plateaued. That’s just typically what happens with a song: You release it, within the first couple months it climbs, and eventually it reaches a point where people have found something new, and then it falls back down. Then earlier this year, it started spiking again.

I remember finding out about the TikTok challenges, and seeing how that was translating into streams, and feeling kind of guilty at first. Of course, I’m grateful, [but] at the same time, I felt discouraged by the fact that the only reason that the song was suddenly doing so well again, was because people relate to it now more than they did when I released it. We’re all alone inside of our houses, we can’t really go anywhere, we can’t even go out to restaurants, go see our friends or our families, or take a walk in a park without wearing a mask. It’s really awful and really alienating. It creates this lack of connection and lack of emotion because you’re not experiencing anything to have emotions about.

I think that’s probably why the song suddenly started doing so well and why it moved from just being on TikTok to resonating with people on streaming platforms. I don’t know; I have mixed feelings about that. I’m glad I created something to make people feel a little bit better, at least a little bit more understood, during this horrible time. I also hate thinking that I’m, in some way, benefiting from something so awful. I’m torn.

Gina Gizella Manning

MTV News: Speaking of TikTok, I was looking at yours and saw these very sweet videos where you were just hanging out with your fans. In one, it looked like you were just having a staring contest. What have been the best interactions you’ve had with fans?

Miller: It’s hard for me to choose! A lot of my fans have been following since I was 14 and they were also 13 or 14. The ones that have stayed since then, we’ve grown up together. It almost feels like we’re friends, sometimes. They literally came up with me and I would not be where I am without them having stayed here for this long. I think that they recognize the huge part that they have played in getting me to the point that I’m at now. Every time I accomplish even the smallest of things, they get really excited. That makes me feel more excited.

Even when my song was on TikTok, they were the ones who were, every day, tweeting me like, “Bea, get a TikTok.” “Bea, look what’s happening.” They’re like my PR team. They’re always cheering me on and sometimes they yell at me. You have to do something, because they’re looking out for me. I really appreciate that. I don’t know if every other fan base is like that. I think they probably are? But I think I do have a pretty cool group of fans.

MTV News: You recently released the video for “Wisdom Teeth,” which is on the EP. What was the inspiration for the song and the video?

Miller: I wrote “Wisdom Teeth” two weeks after I got my actual wisdom teeth pulled. I got all four at once. Only two of them were ready to go, but they said the next two would be ready in like a year. I was like, nah, all of them gotta go right now. I wasn’t able to write or sing for a couple of weeks after I got my teeth pulled ‘cause, obviously, I had these gaping holes in my mouth, and it was the first song I wrote when I was able to come back. It sounds stupid because I know that I’m young, but getting my wisdom teeth pulled was just one of those small things along the way that made me feel like I was getting older. I was expressing this in the studio before we wrote the song; when I was younger, I would hear about people getting their teeth pulled out. I always thought, that’s so far away. Like, ha ha, poor adults.

It made me feel nostalgic towards my childhood. In some ways, when we’re younger, we are smarter, in my opinion. We’re less affected by the opinions of society and what is expected of you. If you are an adult functioning in society, we mold ourselves to fit within our surroundings and be accepted by other adults, which is really weird and unfortunate. When we’re younger, we just bop around and, as long as we’re not hurting anybody, we enjoy our lives. We just smile and feel good. We don’t have any insecurities, at least not until we reach a certain age. I think there’s accidental wisdom in that.

We hadn’t really planned the music video in advance because, obviously, making a music video during a pandemic is not really the top priority for anybody. I found an amazing creative director, photographer, videographer; she’s everything in one. Her name’s Gina [Gizella Manning]. She’s my absolute everything, love of my life. Her and I would just consistently get COVID tested, then not see anybody, then wait until we got our results, and then we’d just see each other. We set up a black screen in my living room, like right there. She came over and she shot me with a bunch of lights and just did the most. Then she got these goldfish and shots in the tank; it was a whole thing.

MTV News: When I was watching it, I was thinking about how people have a lot of dreams about losing their teeth, which kind of signifies stress or having low self-esteem about something.

Miller: See, I didn’t necessarily intend to have that message when I was writing the song, but my fans were saying this, too. I was like, that actually works because I’m always stressed and anxious.

MTV News: You mentioned you were working on the music video during quarantine. What other ways have you been staying creative while being isolated?

Miller: Honestly, I wish I could say that I was doing something consistently to stay in touch with my creativity, but I really haven’t. I feel that this has been the least inspiring year that I’ve ever been alive. I obviously could sit here with my keyboards and I could write something, which I have done a few times. I’m trying to learn Ableton, which is a production program I’ve been trying to get better at that so maybe one day I can produce my songs. Ultimately, the only thing that I’m able to really write about lately is just my sadness about the pandemic, about missing my friends, about everything being shitty, and the environment falling apart, and our political situation being so awful. It’s not anything that everybody isn’t already stressed about.

As artists it’s our responsibility to point out uncomfortable things and situations that are not ideal. But at the same time, it’s also our responsibility to help people get through that. I have been writing a little bit by myself. I’ve more been journaling lately than anything else. It freaks me out to be a creative person my whole life and suddenly not having anything to create. I’ve been able to make videos and things along the way throughout this, and other little photo shoots and things like that. But music has been hard for me to write lately.

MTV News: I appreciate that honesty and can definitely relate. Knowing your EP is going to come out right before Halloween, I wondered if you had any favorite Halloween costumes you’ve worn in the past.

Miller: Halloween is my favorite day of the year. I have a lot of decorations in my apartment. If I can’t go to a haunted house this year, I’m going to make my apartment a haunted house. When I was younger, I wanted to be something from Alice in Wonderland, but I didn’t know which character I wanted to be, so I was all of the main characters. I had the Mad Hatter’s hat, Alice’s dress, Tweedledee and Tweedledum socks. I had Queen-of-Hearts-like shoes with little red hearts all over them. I had a giant clock on my neck for the rabbit. Oh, and I had a Cheshire cat smile that my mom painted on me. It was a lot.

ast year, I did not really kill the Halloween game because I was on tour and I didn’t have time to put together a whole costume. I went to the store and bought an inflatable poop emoji; I was literally a giant, inflatable poop. But that actually was a big hit. I went to a Halloween parade with my mom in New York City; that was where our tour stopped. We were walking the parade and literally everyone we passed by was like, “Look, it’s poop.”

MTV News: You’re from the New York area originally. Have you ever been to the Halloween Dog Parade?

Miller: This year, Ollie and I are going to be an alien and a spaceship. I got him a spaceship costume and I’m going to be an alien. We’ll be really cute. But I didn’t know there was a dog parade. Shit. That sounds so fun. That’s two of my favorite things coming together, dogs and Halloween.

MTV News: Is there anything else about releasing this EP that’s exciting for you?

Miller: I haven’t said this anywhere yet; but I am planning on releasing a little music video for each one of the songs on my EP. We tried to find light in darkness as much as we could. And we’re like, well, this pandemic is kind of ruining our lives, but at least we can kind of use this as a way to get more creative. So we kind of put our heads together and we made small videos for each of the songs on the EP. So, I’m very excited about that ‘cause I was very hands-on with these videos and really involved in the process. And I did all of my makeup and hair and wardrobe for everything. I am excited for everyone to see them. Those videos will all be coming out on different days in the next month or two. But I think they’re really cool. I think that we made the best out of a shitty situation and I’m excited ‘cause I’ve never given my fans as much content for one release. Not even when I released an entire album. I feel like they’re getting more content with the six or seven songs than they would be with, like, 12.

Karol G Packs A Punch, King Princess Goes Disco-Pop, And More Songs We Love

O-O-Ovy on the Drums! Colombian artist Karol G is coming in hot this fall with her newest single, “Bichota,” which dropped at midnight on October 23. Following the success of lighter, airier hits like “Ay, Dios Mío!” and “Tusa” (one of the best songs ever made, do not @ me), Karol returns to her edgy reggaeton roots with “Bichota,” which features a strong Latin bass and heavy, gorgeous vocals. The lyrics — as well as the stunning, warm-toned visuals by Colin Tilley — scream female empowerment, encouraging women to unapologetically own their bodies and sexuality, which is exactly Karol G’s brand. In a song that falls just under three minutes, “Bichota” really knows how to pack a punch. —Sarina Bhutani

President Ariana Grande Does It All In Head-Spinning ‘Positions’ Video

Forget the pair of politicians on the presidential debate stage last night. Ariana Grande is the new Commander-in-Chief.

In her stylized new video for “Positions” — a slinky song about being many things to one person — Grande occupies the Oval Office with support from her trusted advisors (including Victoria Monét, Tayla Parx, and her mother, Joan) before quite literally switching her position to whip something up in the kitchen. And then flash her heels while she signs an executive order. Ari can do it all.

As the song explores the various hats a lover can wear, Grande naturally wears a few of her own, and the hyper-real direction by Dave Meyers finds herself extricated from certain situations (like a photo op) and placed into others (like the bedroom). She also finds time, in her presidential duties, to recognize postal workers for their service and walk a whole slew of dogs on the White House lawn — imagine such concepts from the current administration!

“Positions” is the first taste of Grande’s upcoming sixth album, which she previously tweeted that she “can’t wait to give u” this month. By all accounts (and clues), it’ll drop on October 30, though nothing’s been explicitly confirmed yet.

In the meantime, we have President Grande’s “Positions” to enjoy and play on repeat. Check out the new clip above.

Blackstarkids’s Future-Facing Nostalgia Is A Living Mood Board

By Gabriel Aikins

When it comes to how the human brain works, nostalgia is one of the most powerful forces. The movies and shows we watch, the video games we play, and the music we listen to in youth will always hold a special place in our minds, and inevitably spring back up in pop culture. Think Billie Eilish sampling The Office on When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? or Ariana Grande recreating iconic early 2000 rom-coms for the “Thank U, Next” video. Nostalgia isn’t just a backward-facing experience, though. Those memories and works of art can be used as building blocks to influence and create new experiences and new art. There are few who know this better than Kansas City’s Blackstarkids. Taking the media they loved growing up in the 2000s and combining it with their formidable songwriting and producing talent, the young musical trio of TyFaizon, The Babe Gabe, and Deiondre are creating captivating, timeless sounds at an incredible pace.

While new LP Whatever, Man – out today on Dirty Hit – is their first album on a label, it’s Blackstarkids’s third album in a little over a year, following 2019’s debut, Let’s Play Sports, (which includes album opener “MTV”) and their first 2020 album, Surf. The energy present in the trio’s nostalgic pop tracks also comes across as they speak to MTV News over Zoom, and clearly explains how they can put music out so quickly. Asked if working with a label was a big adjustment, Ty replies with a flat “no” before chuckling and explaining they already had written half the album in March before meeting and signing with Dirty Hit in April, after which the second half was finished quickly. “Honestly, I can’t say I felt a huge sense of pressure because we had already established what we were doing with the project, so it was like, OK, let’s keep going and try to make it good,” he says.

While Blackstarkids draw from icons throughout time, Whatever, Man draws heavily in sound and aesthetic from the late ‘90s and the first decade of the 2000s, when they were still kids (Ty is 19; The Babe Gabe and Deiondre are both 20). The album’s track titles reference Kill Bill, millennial pop stardom, and Malcolm in the Middle — “Beatrix Kiddo,” “Britney Bitch,” and “Frankie Muniz” — and features intros and outros structured like iCarly-style web shows. The group utilize mood boards and their own knowledge of each other’s tastes as close friends to figure out what they want to create, and build out from there. In this case, the emotional high they were on this spring after the release of the grungier, more subdued Surf and the bright creative future drew them back in time to the dazzling pop that dominated the early 2000s. “It just feels good. It’s really bright,” Deiondre sums up. “It’s super nostalgic, too,” Gabe chimes in. “I remember growing up in that late 2000s era, and recreating that sound felt so good. My kid self is loving what we’re doing right now.”

Their work begins conceptually: The trio explain that a project starts with an album name and tracklist, and only then do they begin writing and making the music. They’ll choose existing songs as brainstorms. “A reference song could be anything,” Ty says. “So if the reference songs are more rock-based, then the song is probably going to come out more rock based.” The final product will often sound nothing like the reference song but carry similar feeling or ideas. The mellow and riff-based “Frankie Muniz,” for example, was born from a decidedly less mellow reference track: Green Day’s “Basket Case.” This stems from their multifaceted musical backgrounds. Gabe grew up around guitars and hip-hop and was making DJ mixes before Blackstarkids, Deiondre plays guitar in addition to his production chops, and Ty has had an encyclopedic knowledge of rap since before he was 10.

Jack Kelly

Making such a wide-ranging collection of songs requires constant communication and collaboration between the three friends. They agree that calling Ty and The Babe Gabe lead songwriters and Deiondre the producer is a good general way to describe how they work, but those roles aren’t strictly defined. “There’s plenty of songs that Deiondre has written on, too. And when he does solo music, he writes it all, so he’s a songwriter too,” Ty says. He and Gabe will often write while Deiondre produces. The trio will write and perform their own raps, too. All three bring a slightly different touch to their lyrics, with a common theme of expressing clear emotion and cleverly shouting out the icons that have influenced them. Gabe name-drops Britney Spears, Fergie, and Gwen Stefani on the chorus of “Britney Bitch” as she dreams of living the pop-star life. On the same track, Deiondre shouts out Myspace while rapping about the potential material perks of stardom for he and his friends, and Ty delivers the hook with his smooth cadence.

Deiondre’s role as producer is slightly more defined, and each track on whatever, man not only has its own distinct feeling – from pop icon-inspired “Britney Bitch” to “Tangerine Love”’s rock ballad sound – but also works to tell the story of all the things the group loves. “When Ty brought up the idea of the album and just overall what each song was going to sound like or feel like in terms of story, I knew I wanted it to be a lot of guitar-based songs,” Deiondre says. He cites the trend of palm-muting guitars that was prevalent in music and movies around the turn of the century as inspiration, like on Blink-182’s Enema of the State and in action films such as Crank, and adds that the guitar-based approach allowed plenty of space for more elements, including poppier synths and an array of percussion instruments and samples, to be incorporated into the mix.

As good as Blackstarkids already are, they’re still learning and expanding their talents on the music business side as they go. They laugh as they recall how Surf didn’t have album art until a week or two before release, a timeline Dirty Hit gently steered them away from. Whatever, Man builds on their collaborative formula and adds more refined songwriting as they find their voices and production constantly adding in new wrinkles as it gets crisper, like the nuanced and layered guitar loops on “Dead Kennedys.” “For us, when we listen to it we get to really tell what emotion we were going for. I like the fact the emotions on this album are so strong,” Ty adds. The time period-appropriate idols that fuel their nostalgic writing – Nirvana, Outkast, Prince, Smashing Pumpkins – also serve as templates for them to improve and innovate.

If their packed 2020 is any indication, Blackstarkids are well on track to fulfill that promise of greatness to themselves. There’s no limit to what Ty, The Babe Gabe, and Deiondre can do as they only grow closer and more skilled over time, just as their idols like A Tribe Called Quest and Beastie Boys evolved as they released each project. They’ve already proven to be masters of genre-blending pop and eager historians and excavators of the media they loved growing up. “I want it to be one of those things where it’s something that’s relevant for the rest of our lives,” Ty says. “Even if we don’t do it for the rest of our lives, it’s something that people always know and respect.”

Dorian Electra, Memelord And Gender Destroyer, Will Fuck The World

By Eli Enis

Where to begin? There’s the unexpected collaborations: My Agenda, the second album from experimental pop maximalist Dorian Electra, features disco legends the Village People owning the hook of a song describing gay frogs. They share space with the viral superstar Rebecca Black, who croons about converting fuckboys into simps. Then there’s the sound: a dizzying hodge-podge of dubstep thumps, black metal shrieks, and baroque keys, with surprisingly radio-ready lyrics satirizing far-right ideologies culled from the web’s darkest corners with an enigmatic blend of earnestness and absurdist humor.

And, of course, there’s the artist themself. The 28-year-old musician grew up in Houston and ran with a crew that practiced martial arts on the playground and played Dungeons & Dragons — the kind of teen who went all out for their steampunk prom theme. A superfan of the English post-punk band The Horrors since high school (in a beautiful full-circle moment, frontman Faris Badwan is featured on the track “Iron Fist”), Electra first received attention for their music when, as a senior, they released a lo-fi love song penned to the classical liberal economist Friedrich Hayek.

Weston Allen. Hair by Gregg Lennon Jr.

It was in 2017 that Electra got a major signal boost with a feature on Charli XCX’s “Femmebot,” followed by the long-awaited release of their debut album, Flamboyant, two years later. Featuring production by Dylan Brady of 100 gecs, the record was comprised of eccentric electronic music that established Electra as a fixture in the budding hyperpop scene. The sound grew more playful, but Electra never abandoned their academic approach to lyricism. Thematically, Flamboyant was dedicated to exploring and critiquing aspirational male archetypes: the overachieving finance bro, the macho boxer, and the sleazy Hugh Hefner knockoff.

My Agenda, conversely, is written from the perspective of male outcasts: conventionally unattractive or awkward nerds and, particularly, incels, an internet subculture referring to people who consider themselves “involuntarily celibate.” There are songs about feeling angry at the world for feeling undesirable and unloved (“F The World,” “Edgelord”), fantasies about earning the perfect woman with gentlemanly prowess (“M’Lady”), and tracks that consider the subtle homoeroticism between straight friends (“Sorry Bro (I Love You)”). There are lyrical references to fedoras and winking quotes from The Joker, playful gateways to explore the real issues that plague the online incel community: violent rhetoric and open suicidal ideation, as well as rampant homophobia and sexism.

“I was trying to critique these perspectives but also empathize with them,” Electra tells MTV News. “Especially with meme culture, it’s so easy to call somebody a neckbeard or a fedora-tipper just because they offer to hold the door open. When you sit with the material, actually listen to it, and then people see it in the context of the rest of the project, they get the deeper meaning and deeper connection to this whole crisis in masculinity and culture wars.”

Electra’s impetus for diving into this subject matter came from seeing how the alt-right (a meme-driven flavor of white nationalism that’s sometimes adjacent to incel communities) became so popular with the rise of Donald Trump. And given that Electra emerged from a distinctly internet-born musical subculture, they were already primed with fluency in memes, irony, and oversharing that’s required to truly make sense of this intrinsically net-based lifestyle. However, as fascinated as they were by the social ailments of the edgelord psyche, Electra was equally drawn to its cultural aesthetics, like fedoras and swords. They suggest that it reflects an antiquated version of masculinity rooted in chivalry and warrior-like honor “that really shape the worldview and self-image of the people in some of these subcultures.”

That imagery is dispersed throughout Electra’s music videos, which function like supplementary texts. An epic, digital rendering of Electra wielding a blade atop a giant pile of skulls begins the two-part visual for “Gentleman” and “M’Lady,” before they flip on a cap that floats down from the heavens. It cuts to lo-fi footage of the singer donning a trench coat and lumbering around a filthy apartment filled with video games and fast-food wrappers. It’s intentionally ridiculous and ironic, but it also strikes a strange balance between poking fun at the oft-memed getup and making it look like an outlandish fashion statement.

“I honestly think that that stuff is badass,” Electra says with a laugh. “I think the sword is badass, and the trench coat and dragon necklace [are cool].” Additionally, as a gender-fluid person who interchangeably presents as male and female, Electra connects with both characters in that video. “I identify as both the neckbeard and the “M’lady,’” they say. “I like to make myself into this gross, Dorito-crunching, Mountain Dew-chugging person — which I very much am — but also this perfect fantasy elf.”

That ambiguity is central to the overarching Dorian Electra project, whether they’re toying with gender expression or smashing the boundaries of genre, best captured by the breakout track, “Sorry Bro (I Love You).” With jingling drums, a gooey hook, and witty lines written from the perspective of good buddies falling in love (“And when I try to look at you you look away / Sometimes it’s hard to find the words I wanna say,”) — well, maybe. “I wanted to create something that could literally be a bro anthem, but something that could also be more sexual tension,” they explain. “Something that is hidden romantic tension, but also something that could be totally platonic.”

“Sorry Bro (I Love You)” and “Gentleman” are two of the more lighthearted tracks on My Agenda, but songs like “Edgelord,” a groaning Auto-Tune-heavy track which features a verse from the “Friday” singer Rebecca Black, and “F The World” plunge the shadowy id of the incel. The latter is a ten-car pile-up of hardstyle, grindcore, and hip-hop that Electra describes as “the rawest, straightforward, and literal expression of this kind of angst.” Pointing to its aggressively cynical lyrics (“F the world best I love it / F the world I want to hug it”), they add, “The hatred of the world and wanting to commit violence really comes from a feeling of rejection, a feeling of wanting to be loved, a feeling of literal horniness and frustration. To me it’s, ‘I literally want to fuck the world,’ but also, ‘Fuck the world!’”

It was important to Electra that every song on My Agenda be written from the first-person perspective. Rather than viewing their subjects as removed characters with absolutely no redeeming qualities, Electra is empathetic in their critiques. “What in here is almost universally human and relatable?” they ask themselves. Though they’re careful not to equate this harmful rhetoric with the lived experiences of marginalized people, one way that Dorian was able to personally relate to the incel community was through the lens of their queerness, an experience that often leads to feelings of loneliness and incompatibility with cultural beauty standards.

Weston Allen. Hair by Gregg Lennon Jr.

“There’s a lot of self-hate, feeling like you don’t belong, feeling like you can’t be attractive to a partner, feeling like you don’t fit into the ideal of romance or dating,” Electra says. “Dating apps are not going to be good for you because you may not fit in on hetero Tinder or Grindr, or that people would see you and categorize you as this one thing. Like, ‘Oh you’re just this nerdy, nasty guy’ or ‘you’re just this trans person.’”

Electra is a figurehead in a scene of pop music that’s extremely queer and femme-centric. Bubbly Auto-Tune and experimental electronics create an affirming space for queer and trans artist to pitch-up their vocals and express themselves with instrumentation that challenges heteronormative pop conventions. Therefore, it can be shocking to hear Electra singing from the perspective of homophobes and misogynists — the very people their community implicitly stands against. Electra recognizes the touchiness of the subject matter, but they don’t see it as an extended hand to male chauvinist behavior. Rather, by using neckbeard aesthetics and engaging with incel ideologies in good faith, they hope to create a welcoming space for people from all walks of life to productively engage with this masculinity crisis.

“If somehow somebody coming across my music had that kind of effect, I’d feel like I would be hopefully contributing something positive,” they say. “I think it’s totally worth it putting stuff out there that has ambiguity to it because you might draw people in who think it’s one thing and they’re surprised by other elements.”

The Vamps Channeled Elton John And Boxing Sweat For Cherry Blossom

Past the fuzzy guitar and pounding drums of The Vamps‘s lightheaded love ode “Married in Vegas” lies a secret weapon: a dialed-up piano part that marks the chorus as a secondary hook. Its music-hall glee is reminiscent of Elton John, and the colorful line is just a taste of the patchwork at play on the British group’s eclectic new Cherry Blossom album.

“This is a body of work that we’ve never really done in this way before,” guitarist James McVey told MTV News on a recent call with the full band. “Effectively, half of it’s being produced by the boys. We’ve written it all. It’s hopefully got their unique DNA into it.”

Since McVey formed the group with vocalist Brad Simpson via social media in 2012, the quartet — rounded out by bassist Connor Ball and drummer Tristan Evans — have endured early YouTube covers fame and a gradual sound evolution that took them from the peppy pop-rock of “Can We Dance” to arena screamers and electronic-tinged festival banner wavers. Cherry Blossom finds them stepping into a new realm. “Better” is pure dance fizz, while “Chemicals” unearths a grit previously missing from their sonic sheen. They’re proud of how far they’ve come.

Yet when they spoke to MTV News ahead of the album’s October 16 release, they mentioned how the planned celebrations for Cherry Blossom had to be amended due to the ongoing pandemic. “We’d usually be going on a massive night out, ending up in a different country with Brad’s eyebrows shaved off,” Evans said. “However, this time around, we are probably going to get together, we’ll invest in a couple of nice bottles of red wine, and just have a nice chill night, probably. If it can get mad, we can go mad. But it’s unlikely.”

There will be plenty of time to go mad — as much as can be safely done, of course — when the group resumes its tour plans in 2021. The Vamps are set to play nine shows in the United Kingdom next spring, and they’ve already begun rehearsals. In fact, those run-throughs, which also featured the new Cherry Blossom material, were the first time the four saw each other since lockdown began. “It’s so weird, because you get back and you’re like, [it’s been] four months, I miss these boys,” Simpson said. “First thing that you want to do is go up and give them a hug. And you can’t do it. It was so, so weird.”

With Cherry Blossom out now, perhaps elbow bumps (and nice wine) will have to do. MTV News spoke to The Vamps about making the boxing-themed video for “Better,” what fans can expect from their tour next year, and more.

MTV News: You’ve been a band for almost a decade now, getting to know each other more deeply as you go. But is it also like you’re discovering new sounds that you never heard before and then wanting to try a similar thing in the studio?

James McVey: I think in the past, maybe that was true. I mean, when we started the band, it genuinely did start with us in our parents’ houses with acoustic guitars. So I think naturally, the first album was quite acoustic-driven, because most of those songs were written on acoustic guitars and built from that. And over the years and the different albums, we have been influenced by other artists, and sort of movements in the industry — going ’80s, for example, or whatever. But now for Cherry Blossom, we actually did the opposite. We didn’t listen to bands or artists in regards to thinking, oh, what can we take from that and make our own?

I think what was cool about this album is a lot of the song started from lyrical concepts. And if you’re writing down things in a book or whatever, and you find that it’s a different way, instead of listening to a track and thinking, “Shit, let’s make a song like blah, blah, blah,” you’re starting in a different place. And I think that really helps. And also these boys have been producing for years and years and years, since the first album. And I think over time they’ve developed their own style and sound in their own rights.

MTV News: When you were making Cherry Blossom, how did that dynamic play out and how did you put it into action?

Tristan Evans: Obviously over the years, we’ve evolved as musicians and song writers and people. So we just kind of come together and just put all our emotions on the page and see what comes out of it. But I feel like it’s always been the same where we’re best friends and it’s quite easy to gel in the studio and it’s quite easy to create something that we’re all vibing. Because I feel like we all go in for the same goal.

MTV News: “Married in Vegas” has such a cool, prominent piano line that’s almost a hook in and of itself. Where did that came from when you were recording it?

Brad Simpson: I’d bought an upright piano about a year ago, which is so nice. [We] wrote the majority of it on acoustic guitar, and then I think I was trying to look for certain lyrics in the chorus and then just turned around and played the same chords, but on the piano. And the guy who produced the song, Lostboy, heard it, and he was like, “Ah, there could be actually a cool kind of moment there.” He’s a great piano player. And he was like, “What about something like this?” And I was like, that’s the vibe, yeah. We spoke about Elton John quite a lot throughout the session, that big energy and the grandeur of it and the grandeur of his sound. And I think it kind of subconsciously made its way into the song, definitely through the piano as well.

MTV News: Would any of you actually ever get married in Vegas if the night went that way?

Evans: Probably. It’s a lot cheaper, isn’t it? There’s stuff to do. And it’s hot. So why not?

Connor Ball: I feel like you might wake up in Vegas not remembering that you did do that. So that’s the dangerous thing.

MTV News: “Better” recently got a glossy, stylized, boxing-themed video. But Brad, you have to work the bag for most of it. I was curious how long you actually had to shoot physically punching the punching bag.

Simpson: Longer than I would have liked. You know what I mean? It wasn’t a case of like, “Oh, OK, you’ve done the boxing shot, now go and grab a shower.” No showers. So the rest of the day, it was not good for me or anyone around me.

Ball: You were boxing for a good two hours.

Evans: It’s funny how they thought they’d have to [apply fake] grease and [to] sweat [you]. After like 20 minutes, it was just natural.

McVey: I think actually, speaking about sweating — when we did a performance shot, you do the same thing literally 15 times. And I think it’s funny how they take little clips from the different takes, and on some of them, like a close-up of Brad, it’s one of the early ones, there’s no sweat. And there’s one clip, and I think it was a bead of sweat, either on your nose or in your hair, was sweating. But it happened literally two seconds after the first one. We proper go for it in those performances, man.

MTV News: You just announced plans for a 2021 tour in the U.K. Can you talk a little bit about those plans and maybe what your fans can expect?

McVey: Putting on a tour, not knowing realistically where the world’s going to be in six months from now, is quite a scary thing. And initially before the pandemic, we were planning a big world tour where we would cover everywhere. And it’s hard because I think there’s more chance of us being able to tour, I guess, in our own country before anywhere else. But what we’re doing with this is we’re putting this on sale with the best intentions, hoping we can do it. If not, then we’ll figure out. We’ll tour as soon as we can.

MTV News: Talking about this year, we all obviously had to be apart, had to be isolated. But you guys are creative unit as a band. That must’ve been difficult in terms of creating and thinking as a unit. What was that experience like?

Simpson: It was weird, man. But I actually think, turning negative into positive, we’re so lucky that we have all of the tools at our disposal. We managed to create and finish stuff completely via the Zoom. And I think it’s weirdly brought people together in a strange way. Do you know what I mean? I think you’re checking up on people that you wouldn’t usually check on, and you’re speaking to people more often than you usually would. I had a family Zoom quiz once a week with family members that you see maybe once a year. So it was really nice. And I think from a creative aspect, it actually just made us kind of go, OK, we’ve just got to approach this in a different way. Challenging yourself and doing something different from a creative aspect, I always think, breeds exciting new things. Everyone worked on their home set ups, got it to a place where we could be sending stuff back and forth, and got the album done.

MTV News: Throughout this year, was the person that you talked to or texted with the most? And I have a feeling it was each other.

Simpson: We had a couple of really good nights. We had good nights in where everyone got a glass of wine or a beer, and then we had a FaceTime. We did it after “Married in Vegas” was written and FaceTimed around. And then there was just a couple other moments where you’d FaceTime each other and you didn’t realize, but you’re both having a chill night and maybe having a couple of glasses of wine or whatever. And you’re like, oh yeah, this is great, and then end up having a little nightcap together. It was nice. It was sweet, very wholesome.

MTV News: Was there any go-to music that you were listening to kind of help get you through?

Evans: I mean, not necessarily to help me get through it, just enjoying the vibe:

Mötley Crüe. That was fun. And then Post Malone. I think I was just obsessed with that Hollywood’s Bleeding album. A lot of the new Yungblud stuff.

McVey: Taylor Swift releasing an album was amazing. It sort of came out of nowhere, but I’m a massive Taylor Swift fan. It was the album that I kind of wish she’d maybe released two albums ago. And so when it came now, I was like, yes. Better late than never.

The Vamps Channeled Elton John And Boxing Sweat For Cherry Blossom

Past the fuzzy guitar and pounding drums of The Vamps‘s lightheaded love ode “Married in Vegas” lies a secret weapon: a dialed-up piano part that marks the chorus as a secondary hook. Its music-hall glee is reminiscent of Elton John, and the colorful line is just a taste of the patchwork at play on the British group’s eclectic new Cherry Blossom album.

“This is a body of work that we’ve never really done in this way before,” guitarist James McVey told MTV News on a recent call with the full band. “Effectively, half of it’s being produced by the boys. We’ve written it all. It’s hopefully got their unique DNA into it.”

Since McVey formed the group with vocalist Brad Simpson via social media in 2012, the quartet — rounded out by bassist Connor Ball and drummer Tristan Evans — have endured early YouTube covers fame and a gradual sound evolution that took them from the peppy pop-rock of “Can We Dance” to arena screamers and electronic-tinged festival banner wavers. Cherry Blossom finds them stepping into a new realm. “Better” is pure dance fizz, while “Chemicals” unearths a grit previously missing from their sonic sheen. They’re proud of how far they’ve come.

Yet when they spoke to MTV News ahead of the album’s October 16 release, they mentioned how the planned celebrations for Cherry Blossom had to be amended due to the ongoing pandemic. “We’d usually be going on a massive night out, ending up in a different country with Brad’s eyebrows shaved off,” Evans said. “However, this time around, we are probably going to get together, we’ll invest in a couple of nice bottles of red wine, and just have a nice chill night, probably. If it can get mad, we can go mad. But it’s unlikely.”

There will be plenty of time to go mad — as much as can be safely done, of course — when the group resumes its tour plans in 2021. The Vamps are set to play nine shows in the United Kingdom next spring, and they’ve already begun rehearsals. In fact, those run-throughs, which also featured the new Cherry Blossom material, were the first time the four saw each other since lockdown began. “It’s so weird, because you get back and you’re like, [it’s been] four months, I miss these boys,” Simpson said. “First thing that you want to do is go up and give them a hug. And you can’t do it. It was so, so weird.”

With Cherry Blossom out now, perhaps elbow bumps (and nice wine) will have to do. MTV News spoke to The Vamps about making the boxing-themed video for “Better,” what fans can expect from their tour next year, and more.

MTV News: You’ve been a band for almost a decade now, getting to know each other more deeply as you go. But is it also like you’re discovering new sounds that you never heard before and then wanting to try a similar thing in the studio?

James McVey: I think in the past, maybe that was true. I mean, when we started the band, it genuinely did start with us in our parents’ houses with acoustic guitars. So I think naturally, the first album was quite acoustic-driven, because most of those songs were written on acoustic guitars and built from that. And over the years and the different albums, we have been influenced by other artists, and sort of movements in the industry — going ’80s, for example, or whatever. But now for Cherry Blossom, we actually did the opposite. We didn’t listen to bands or artists in regards to thinking, oh, what can we take from that and make our own?

I think what was cool about this album is a lot of the song started from lyrical concepts. And if you’re writing down things in a book or whatever, and you find that it’s a different way, instead of listening to a track and thinking, “Shit, let’s make a song like blah, blah, blah,” you’re starting in a different place. And I think that really helps. And also these boys have been producing for years and years and years, since the first album. And I think over time they’ve developed their own style and sound in their own rights.

MTV News: When you were making Cherry Blossom, how did that dynamic play out and how did you put it into action?

Tristan Evans: Obviously over the years, we’ve evolved as musicians and song writers and people. So we just kind of come together and just put all our emotions on the page and see what comes out of it. But I feel like it’s always been the same where we’re best friends and it’s quite easy to gel in the studio and it’s quite easy to create something that we’re all vibing. Because I feel like we all go in for the same goal.

MTV News: “Married in Vegas” has such a cool, prominent piano line that’s almost a hook in and of itself. Where did that came from when you were recording it?

Brad Simpson: I’d bought an upright piano about a year ago, which is so nice. [We] wrote the majority of it on acoustic guitar, and then I think I was trying to look for certain lyrics in the chorus and then just turned around and played the same chords, but on the piano. And the guy who produced the song, Lostboy, heard it, and he was like, “Ah, there could be actually a cool kind of moment there.” He’s a great piano player. And he was like, “What about something like this?” And I was like, that’s the vibe, yeah. We spoke about Elton John quite a lot throughout the session, that big energy and the grandeur of it and the grandeur of his sound. And I think it kind of subconsciously made its way into the song, definitely through the piano as well.

MTV News: Would any of you actually ever get married in Vegas if the night went that way?

Evans: Probably. It’s a lot cheaper, isn’t it? There’s stuff to do. And it’s hot. So why not?

Connor Ball: I feel like you might wake up in Vegas not remembering that you did do that. So that’s the dangerous thing.

MTV News: “Better” recently got a glossy, stylized, boxing-themed video. But Brad, you have to work the bag for most of it. I was curious how long you actually had to shoot physically punching the punching bag.

Simpson: Longer than I would have liked. You know what I mean? It wasn’t a case of like, “Oh, OK, you’ve done the boxing shot, now go and grab a shower.” No showers. So the rest of the day, it was not good for me or anyone around me.

Ball: You were boxing for a good two hours.

Evans: It’s funny how they thought they’d have to [apply fake] grease and [to] sweat [you]. After like 20 minutes, it was just natural.

McVey: I think actually, speaking about sweating — when we did a performance shot, you do the same thing literally 15 times. And I think it’s funny how they take little clips from the different takes, and on some of them, like a close-up of Brad, it’s one of the early ones, there’s no sweat. And there’s one clip, and I think it was a bead of sweat, either on your nose or in your hair, was sweating. But it happened literally two seconds after the first one. We proper go for it in those performances, man.

MTV News: You just announced plans for a 2021 tour in the U.K. Can you talk a little bit about those plans and maybe what your fans can expect?

McVey: Putting on a tour, not knowing realistically where the world’s going to be in six months from now, is quite a scary thing. And initially before the pandemic, we were planning a big world tour where we would cover everywhere. And it’s hard because I think there’s more chance of us being able to tour, I guess, in our own country before anywhere else. But what we’re doing with this is we’re putting this on sale with the best intentions, hoping we can do it. If not, then we’ll figure out. We’ll tour as soon as we can.

MTV News: Talking about this year, we all obviously had to be apart, had to be isolated. But you guys are creative unit as a band. That must’ve been difficult in terms of creating and thinking as a unit. What was that experience like?

Simpson: It was weird, man. But I actually think, turning negative into positive, we’re so lucky that we have all of the tools at our disposal. We managed to create and finish stuff completely via the Zoom. And I think it’s weirdly brought people together in a strange way. Do you know what I mean? I think you’re checking up on people that you wouldn’t usually check on, and you’re speaking to people more often than you usually would. I had a family Zoom quiz once a week with family members that you see maybe once a year. So it was really nice. And I think from a creative aspect, it actually just made us kind of go, OK, we’ve just got to approach this in a different way. Challenging yourself and doing something different from a creative aspect, I always think, breeds exciting new things. Everyone worked on their home set ups, got it to a place where we could be sending stuff back and forth, and got the album done.

MTV News: Throughout this year, was the person that you talked to or texted with the most? And I have a feeling it was each other.

Simpson: We had a couple of really good nights. We had good nights in where everyone got a glass of wine or a beer, and then we had a FaceTime. We did it after “Married in Vegas” was written and FaceTimed around. And then there was just a couple other moments where you’d FaceTime each other and you didn’t realize, but you’re both having a chill night and maybe having a couple of glasses of wine or whatever. And you’re like, oh yeah, this is great, and then end up having a little nightcap together. It was nice. It was sweet, very wholesome.

MTV News: Was there any go-to music that you were listening to kind of help get you through?

Evans: I mean, not necessarily to help me get through it, just enjoying the vibe:

Mötley Crüe. That was fun. And then Post Malone. I think I was just obsessed with that Hollywood’s Bleeding album. A lot of the new Yungblud stuff.

McVey: Taylor Swift releasing an album was amazing. It sort of came out of nowhere, but I’m a massive Taylor Swift fan. It was the album that I kind of wish she’d maybe released two albums ago. And so when it came now, I was like, yes. Better late than never.

Little Mix Return From ‘Holiday’ To Host The 2020 MTV EMA

Consider the “Holiday” over, because Little Mix are back in business as your hostesses for the 2020 MTV European Music Awards. They will also bring a special performance of “Sweet Melody” off their forthcoming album, Confetti.

The British pop group — Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, and Leigh-Anne Peacock — shared the news on Tuesday (October 20) with an animated superhero-style clip on their Instagram. “The world needs joy and music,” a thematic jingle sings, as a rendering of Peacock grasps a magical microphone, which lets off a pink blast into an electrified EMA logo. “Who’s gonna bring the fun? Little Mix!”

The foursome joins an already stacked show with performances from fellow Brit Sam Smith and the Colombian singer Maluma, who will make his EMA debut. They are competing with Lady Gaga, who leads with the most nominations, in Best Pop, and they are also up for Best Group and Best Virtual Live. “IT’S HAPPENING! 🎉 We are SO excited to announce that we’re going to be hosting the @mtvema’s on November 8th,” the group wrote from their official Instagram account. “This is gonna be so much fun!”

The announcement follows the release of Little Mix’s blissful single, “Holiday,” for which they released a lyric video and an official video. It also comes just ahead of their 10-year anniversary and, in August, they told MTV News what they’ve learned over the decade. “I actually still can’t believe that, as a girl band and as a pop girl band, we’ve lasted 10 years,” Thirlwall said. “That’s literally unheard of. I think it’s all right to blow your trumpet now and again. I think we should be really proud of ourselves for that. We’ve managed to reach a decade and we’ve always — up until a few years ago — we were always kind of the underdog. No one expected us to win The X Factor. No one expected us to be around for a long time. I just think it’s incredible, really.”

The 2020 MTV EMA airs globally on MTV in 180 countries and territories on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Find more info at mtvema.com.

Little Mix Return From ‘Holiday’ To Host The 2020 MTV EMA

Consider the “Holiday” over, because Little Mix are back in business as your hostesses for the 2020 MTV European Music Awards. They will also bring a special performance of “Sweet Melody” off their forthcoming album, Confetti.

The British pop group — Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, and Leigh-Anne Peacock — shared the news on Tuesday (October 20) with an animated superhero-style clip on their Instagram. “The world needs joy and music,” a thematic jingle sings, as a rendering of Peacock grasps a magical microphone, which lets off a pink blast into an electrified EMA logo. “Who’s gonna bring the fun? Little Mix!”

The foursome joins an already stacked show with performances from fellow Brit Sam Smith and the Colombian singer Maluma, who will make his EMA debut. They are competing with Lady Gaga, who leads with the most nominations, in Best Pop, and they are also up for Best Group and Best Virtual Live. “IT’S HAPPENING! 🎉 We are SO excited to announce that we’re going to be hosting the @mtvema’s on November 8th,” the group wrote from their official Instagram account. “This is gonna be so much fun!”

The announcement follows the release of Little Mix’s blissful single, “Holiday,” for which they released a lyric video and an official video. It also comes just ahead of their 10-year anniversary and, in August, they told MTV News what they’ve learned over the decade. “I actually still can’t believe that, as a girl band and as a pop girl band, we’ve lasted 10 years,” Thirlwall said. “That’s literally unheard of. I think it’s all right to blow your trumpet now and again. I think we should be really proud of ourselves for that. We’ve managed to reach a decade and we’ve always — up until a few years ago — we were always kind of the underdog. No one expected us to win The X Factor. No one expected us to be around for a long time. I just think it’s incredible, really.”

The 2020 MTV EMA airs globally on MTV in 180 countries and territories on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Find more info at mtvema.com.

Omer Fedi Is The Guitar-Pop Prodigy Behind 24kGoldn And Machine Gun Kelly

By Ethan Shanfeld

Behind today’s top hits is a 20-year-old guitar prodigy from Tel Aviv named Omer Fedi. The multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter has topped the Billboard charts and worked with pop royalty from Lil Nas X to Machine Gun Kelly. But just over four years ago, Fedi moved to Los Angeles with no connections to the industry, at a time he could barely speak English, with one singular goal: “I wanna make my friends the biggest artists in the world,” he tells MTV News, casually pacing around his Bel Air home.

Fedi started playing drums before he could walk. His dad was one of the most accomplished and well-respected drummers in Israel, introducing Fedi to music at a very young age. Inspired by Drake Bell from the mid-aughts Nickelodeon series Drake & Josh, Fedi decided to pick up the guitar at age 10. After wandering into a nearby CD store and listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, he knew that music was the only way forward. Later, Fedi embraced jazz from listening to Steely Dan. He was enthralled by the incorporation of sophisticated chords and distorted riffs in pop music.

At 16, Fedi moved to the states when his dad sought to expand musical opportunities for himself and his son. Fedi enrolled at Calabasas High School and immediately joined the jazz ensemble, where his teachers were astounded by his technical chops. “He was so far ahead of everyone else in terms of his fluency on the instrument and his harmonic ability,” says Tod Cooper, a jazz clinician who volunteered at the school. “Nothing got in his way. He could speak through the instrument.”

Jay Bills

Fedi was a guitar virtuoso; his extraordinary talent would fill school auditoriums for shows normally only attended by performers’ parents. Competing as a high school senior at the 2018 Reno Jazz Festival, Fedi won the single “Outstanding Performer” award in a field of over 9,000 young musicians. The summer after sophomore year, Fedi landed a gig playing guitar at a nearby church, where he met other musicians who invited him to jam sessions. About a year later, one of Fedi’s friends called him with an opportunity to meet Sam Hook, a hit songwriter who was looking to collaborate with a guitar player.

“I had never produced or written a song, but we just started writing together, and soon I’d go to his house every day after school,” Fedi says. Eventually, the pair wrote Ella Mai’s “Naked,” a smooth R&B ballad driven by Fedi’s soulful plucking.

Fedi started spending mornings in classrooms and afternoons at Glenwood Place Recording Studios in Burbank, California. After graduating high school, Fedi linked up with English alt-pop star Yungblud. During one of their sessions, Fedi met former Interscope executive Conor Ambrose, who would later become his manager. “He came in wearing a pink beanie and just sat in the corner of the room,” Ambrose says. “He started playing guitar and everyone literally stopped in their tracks, like this is easily the most talented guitarist we’ve ever seen.”

Later that year, a friend from high school invited Fedi to a USC party. There, he met Golden Landis Von Jones, aka 24kGoldn, then a student trying to make it big as a rapper. They exchanged phone numbers and booked a studio session a week later. Fedi and Goldn’s creative partnership started with writing the emo-influenced Iann Dior song, “18.” They continued making music together, putting out 24kGoldn singles like the moody “Lot to Lose” and seductive “Games on Your Phone.” Both songs are built around Fedi’s carefully crafted guitar melodies.

“We always start from scratch,” Fedi says. “Goldn writes the lyrics — he’s one of the fastest writers of all time — and then we write the music and structure it together.” Fedi helped push Goldn to incorporate rock into his style with “City of Angels,” which pairs an angsty electric guitar progression with a steady drum machine. The song blew up on TikTok and dominated alternative radio for months. The duo continued collaborating on Goldn’s debut EP, Dropped Outta College, and are currently working on the artist’s first studio album, El Dorado.

In late 2019, Fedi performed as a touring guitarist during Goldn’s opening run with Landon Cube, playing a handful of shows across the country. However, when Goldn’s 2020 headline tour plans were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic, he and Fedi rented an Airbnb in Hollywood to grind out new songs. Though it was on a night off at Dior’s place when they wrote the biggest hit of their careers so far — by accident.

“We didn’t even think about making music,” Fedi says. While Goldn and Dior played Call of Duty, Fedi and producer KBeaZy spontaneously started making beats. “I didn’t even have my guitars, so I took Iann’s guitar, plugged it into the computer, and the first thing I played was the ‘Mood’ guitar riff.” Within five minutes, Fedi and KBeaZy laid down a beat.

“Then Goldn’s sitting on the couch and starts singing, ‘Why you always in a mood?’” Fedi says. “He probably didn’t even know he was singing because he was so focused on the game.”

Fedi heard something in Goldn’s subconscious hook and pleaded with him to pause the game, get off the couch, and record it. “I was like, ‘Goldn, I won’t be your friend if you won’t record this,’” Fedi says.

The song came together like magic and, after its release in July, almost immediately became a smash hit. As of this writing, “Mood” has spent over nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, hitting No. 1 on the alternative charts. It has over 300 million Spotify streams and its music video has over 42 million views on YouTube.

“Mood” is grounded by a shuffling hi-hat beat and elevated by a catchy chorus and crooning verses, but the song is built around its euphoric guitar riff. It’s easy to understand why Fedi’s favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers: Like John Frusciante, he gives the guitar a distinct voice on everything he writes, so that after just a few notes, songs like “Mood” and “City of Angels” are immediately recognizable. “People know that when they work with me, it’s going to be a guitar-based song,” Fedi says. “Nothing can compete with the feeling of live guitar.”

One of Fedi’s goals is to bring the guitar back to the forefront of pop music. His signature cross-genre sound, evident on songs like The Kid Laroi’s “Go,” seamlessly blends guitar with hip-hop beats. The musician’s most recent creative endeavor was working on Machine Gun Kelly’s No. 1 album, Tickets To My Downfall, full of nostalgic pop-punk bangers. Fedi produced nine tracks on the deluxe album alongside Blink 182’s Travis Barker, one of his idols.

Recently, Fedi has been hanging out at Diplo’s house, making music with Dominic Fike, and playing jazz live from Charlie Puth’s Instagram. He’s also been working on Lil Nas X’s debut album and an exciting remix of “Mood,” coming out within the month. Last November, Fedi was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Ella Mai’s album. The first song he ever wrote was considered for music’s highest honor. But for a kid whose dream is to become “the best of all time,” this is only the beginning.

“I’m really happy and excited about everything that’s happening right now,” Fedi says. “But I try to keep my head down and just make good music.” In many ways, Fedi is the architect behind pop’s new sound. With a keen ear for crafting hooks and the technical training to execute them, no one is better suited to soundtrack the future.