Popping Up: Spencer Sutherland
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Beyoncé and Miley were once unknown, too.
From heading out on the road with acts like Ariana Grande, Emblem3 and Austin Mahone to hitting the studio with pop songwriting royalty (Andreas Carlsson, the man responsible for crafting smashes for the likes of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys), there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to rising star, Spencer Sutherland.
This month, the young Ohio-bred singer-songwriter dropped his debut EP called Unveiled (January 13), featuring his lead single “Heartstrings” and “Nothing Can Hurt Me,” a soulful pop ode penned alongside Carlsson. (He isn’t just writing for himself, either: He also helped to co-pen a majority of Emblem3’s recent Forever Together EP.)
We caught up with Spencer moments after he landed in LA for a songwriting session earlier this month. Check out what the talented up-and-comer had to say.
MIDWEST BOY: Spencer grew up in a small town in Ohio, just outside of Columbus. Music was always a part of his life, but it wasn’t until high school that he decided to pursue his passion. “I followed what I loved, and a couple years later, it’s definitely paid off. It’s super enjoyable, I’m glad that I did what I did.”
SONIC SPECTRUM: Spencer grew up listening to a range of music. “I went through a stage when I listened to a bunch of Elvis — I’m actually still in that stage, I love him — I listened to rap, listened to rock, like Green Day. I listened to a bit of everything. Marvin Gaye. Boyz II Men. The whole spectrum.”
BEHIND THE MUSIC: But of all the artists he’s listening to, Spencer cites Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake as the main influences behind his own music. “Bruno’s vocals are just absolutely insane, and my music has a little twist of R&B, so that’s kind of where JT comes in.”
ON HIS LATEST SINGLE, “NOTHING CAN HURT ME”: “The song’s about something everyone goes through. You think you’re invincible and you think you have it made, but the only thing that’s your kryptonite is this girl. It’s the only thing in the world that can hurt you, but it’s the most important thing to you.”
WRITING WITH POP ROYALTY: Spencer wrote “Nothing Can Hurt Me” alongside Andreas Carlsson in LA. “He’s one of the people that is the reason for the Backstreet Boys songs and the NSYNC songs, and all these early ’00’s pop songs that I grew up listening to…it’s so crazy, because the Backstreet Boys are one of my all time favorites!”
OUT ON THE ROAD: “Honestly, I’ve never been happier in my life than when I’m on tour. The traveling, the performing, the meeting all of the new fans — especially early in my career, because I’m making a lot of fans in the process. I love hotels. I love flying. I love everything about it.”
TOUR NOSTALGIA: He’s got fond memories of plenty of the cities he’s visited while out on the road. The standouts include Chicago (“I love the city itself, but the House Of Blues in Chicago is just amazing”) and Minneapolis. “University of Minnesota has one of the coolest college campuses ever. We got like an hour and a half to go look around the campus, and that was really cool. We went to this little old coffee shop and this hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It was really fun to do that.”
STRIPPED DOWN, BY REQUEST: Spencer’s 4-track debut EP is acoustic — a conscious decision on his part to appease his growing fan base. “I wanted the fans to kind of get a feel for my voice, and I wanted them to be as broken down as possible…it’s really bare bones. I think people who have heard it already are loving that aspect. I worked really hard on it.”
HITTING THE STUDIO AGAIN: Although his debut EP just dropped this month, Spencer is already making his next moves in the booth. “I’ve been working with August Rigo (Justin Bieber, One Direction). It’s been really, really cool working with him. We have a lot of new music coming out soon. Stuff with Andreas [Carlsson], so much…I’m so stoked for people to hear all the stuff.”
2015 IS LOOKING BRIGHT: “We’re twelve days into the year, and I’m already releasing an EP. I’m so psyched for this year. It’s going to be huge, you know?”
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