Interview: Plested Talks “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” & Star-Studded Collabs
Plested is a name you’d best familiarize yourself with. After honing his pen writing hits for the likes of Little Mix, Kygo, The Chainsmokers and ZAYN, the hitmaker launched an artist project of his own. Last year he unveiled his first ever project, First & Foremost. Not quite an EP but also not yet an album, the 8-track collection showcases his evocative vocals and unforgettable lyricism. He also spent some time last year introducing himself to fans across Europe and North America while touring with the likes of Alec Benjamin and Nina Nesbitt. And today (April 25), he kicks off a new era with the unveiling of his latest single “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t.”
Written with the assistance of Emily Warren and his old school friends Mac and Phil, the track deals with the very relatable feeling of being friend-zoned. “What do you want? Where do I stand? You know what it does when you hold my hand. I wish I didn’t feel it,” Plested sings to a lover on the opening lines. Moving into the chorus, he makes a plea for honesty in the relationship. “Either you’re in or out. Either I’m with or without. You will or you won’t. Either you love me or you don’t.” It’s the sort of situation everyone has experienced at one point or another, which makes it all the more powerful. Not only that, but it has personal meaning to the songsmith.
“It was before we went on to have any songwriting success writing for other amazing artists, so it’s a special one,” he explained in a press release. Recently I had the opportunity to dive a little deeper about what the song meant to him. This week I hopped on the phone with the rising star to chat about “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t.” Plested opened up about how the song came together several years ago and what its release represents as he prepares to take his career to the next step. That’s not all, though. He spoke about some of his favorite songs that he’s ever written for other artists, working with Little Mix, dream writing partners for the future and so much more.
Press play on his new earworm and dive into our exclusive interview below.
Can you talk about what it was like working on “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” in the studio?
When we first wrote it, it was a while ago now. I wrote it with literally my best friends – a girl called Emily [Warren] and two guys called Mac and Phil. What’s good about that is it means I could open up about anything honestly. I could talk to them about how I’m feeling, which is one of the most important things when you’re writing. We basically were talking about this situation that I’d been in with a girl. Where I just didn’t know what was going on in her head. And I just wanted to know. You know, everyone gets in the friend-zone sometimes, and you just wish you could read someone’s mind. We kind of wanted to write a song from that perspective – just trying to ask that question of what do you want. Like what is this? Am I making a fool out of myself? You know.
It was just super easy. We wrote the song pretty quick. It was all in one day. We knew as soon as we wrote it, we were like “ok this one’s special.” Because I’d been writing songs for other people for a bit. Writing songs for other artists. With “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” it was one of the first songs where I was like “I don’t want to give this one away.” I really wanted to keep it and sing it with my own kind of story behind it.
You said you wrote it a while ago. About how long have you been holding onto it?
This song we wrote in about 2015. It’s been a while.
So why does now feel like the right time to be releasing it?
Now feels like the right time because at the end of 2018 I basically put out my first project. It’s not really an EP or an album, but it’s called First & Foremost. And it was just like, we had to wrap up 2018 and put a little bow around it. So we put that out and then you want to take a little break. I’ve done a few tours, and we just want to come back with a bang basically. I want to come back with a song that I’ve played live already. I play it at every show that I do. And I play it last so there’s a lot of people that are asking for the song. I’m already getting people that are covering the song even though it isn’t out. We just felt like let’s come back with a big one and just go for it full steam ahead.
How would you say the track differs from the material on First & Foremost? Or would you say it does at all?
I think it is definitely a step forward in sound for me. First & Foremost was very much an introduction to what Plested is and what I sing about and my lyrics because they mean so much. I’m very much a lyrics-based artist. I think “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” is a step forward because where I’ve gone from being very honest with my past songs – they’re stories about myself – where “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” is really a story about myself that comes from a personal place. But it definitely more of a universal song. Where I know that there’s going to be a lot of people who have been through the situation or are going through a similar situation. I’m hoping that they can really get on board with that. I think it’s the first song that I know from playing it live already that everybody gets involved. It’s a real kind of sing-along song. So it’s a step forward in that sense.
It’s so cool that you’ve been playing it live for so long and that the reaction has been so strong. Speaking of touring, you’ve been on the road with the likes of Alec Benjamin and Nina Nesbitt this year. What is your favorite thing about touring?
It’s funny because I haven’t been touring, like a proper tour, before Alec. And it was this massive kind of learning curve of playing things, playing for the audiences in new places that I’d never been before. And I think that’s what I love about it. It’s that you get to meet so many people that you would never have had a chance to meet. If I’d stayed in London where I’m from then all these people in Germany and Poland and America, these are people who have listened to my music for a couple of years now. So without touring I wouldn’t get a chance to even say hello to them. That’s super important to me. I make sure that I go out after the show, get pictures of everyone and say hello. Because it means so much when they show up.
It’s got to be cool to see the people that have been listening for so long.
Yeah. It’s incredible. Incredible.
Do you perform any of the songs that you’ve written for other artists while on tour?
I do. I think it’s so important because that’s a massive part of my story as an artist. And I wouldn’t really be here if it wasn’t for those songs. So what I like to do is if one of my songs by another artist has done quite well in another territory… Like in London I sing “Touch” by Little Mix, which I wrote. Then when I go to Europe or America I tend to sing the Kygo and Miguel song that I wrote because I know it went to radio there. And I think that’s great because where I’m a support act I go onstage. And you always people are listening at first but you have to kind of find ways to grab their attention. When you sing a song they already know, and I say “I actually wrote this song. If you like it then here’s the original.” That really connected. And it means that anyone who wasn’t listening is all of a sudden. Like “Oh I get it. I get what this guy’s doing.” Then they listen to the songs after it like “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” and connect with that. It’s a really important part of my story.
As a songwriter, you’ve worked with so many different people. Everyone from The Chainsmokers and Kygo to Zayn and Little Mix. Would you say you have a favorite song that you’ve done for another artist?
Oooh, that is a good question. There is… So the Zayn song that I did. I was working with him when he came out of One Direction. It was a crazy time for him and just to witness that whole scenario with the media was so crazy. When we wrote our song called “I Won’t Mind,” which was actually leaked unfortunately… That got out into the world. And I just loved that it was Zayn. Such a big artist singing this very stripped back, raw, acoustic song that I helped writing. That was amazing, amazing. That’s still one of my favorites.
Would you want to get back in the studio with Zayn to work on more music? Is that a possibility?
100 percent. I’m always up for that. For old friends… I just love catching up with artists that I haven’t seen in a while. Being an artist is such a crazy experience. So if I’m able to hear stories, I always try to get in with artists when I can.
You did that with Little Mix because you worked on “Touch” for Glory Days and then “Joan Of Arc” was on LM5. I love “Touch” and really also love “Joan Of Arc.” Can you talk about your experience working with the girls?
Well, I love Little Mix because they’re incredible the way they work. They’re so like… they know what they want. To go in as a writer they’re just like “today we want this. And we’re going to try this. And we’re going to think about this.” That’s such an amazing thing to witness as a writer because it does half of my job for me. Then I can go and have a bit of fun really. The girls are just there to have fun. I was in with Leigh-Anne and Jade for that song – “Joan Of Arc.” We just wrote it in a day, and it was such an amazing day. They just wanted to try something a little bit more kind of hip-hop. A little bit more bouncy. So, yeah. We had a bit of fun.
You’ve kind of touched on it a little bit. But how does working on a song for yourself differ from working for someone else?
When I work on a song for myself I tend to start with the lyrics. When I’m with another artist, we’ll get a melody or the production. I always start for myself with a specific lyric. For “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t” when we met up that day the first thing that we came up with was “either you love me or you don’t.” Then we based the whole song around that one phrase. Or another song I have called “Ribcage.” I had this phrase – “that’s why they call it a ribcage. To lock all of my feelings up.” I just wanted to write a song based around that. And I’m so like a perfectionist when it comes to lyrics. Or I try to be at least. And I would just kind of sit there for hours working out each line. Making sure that it’s perfect and it makes sense. When it’s with another artist you can be a little bit more free with it. And a little bit more have fun. Although lyrics still matter, I think you can have a bit more fun. And you don’t have to be as honest. Where I like to be as honest as possible. Tear my heart out whenever I can.
Do you have any artsits on your bucket list to work with still?
Oh my god. I would absolutely die to work with Adele. I know that’s probably a very cliche answer. But I just love the songwriting on her albums. And the fact that she’s a lot like me where she just literally tears her heart out every performance. I think it would be such an incredible session. Plus she’s just an amazing character.
I’ve worked with a few of the One D boys, but I’d love to work with Harry. Because I love the sound of his first album. That kind of rock-n-roll thing. That would be so fun to write.
Beyond Zayn what other One Direction boys have you worked with?
I’ve been in the studio with Liam recently, actually. A couple weeks ago. For Louis Tomlinson, I’ve done a couple sessions for him. I haven’t had a chance to work with Niall yet. I think Niall is such a cool guy. But he is busy. I’m trying to make that happen at some point.
You have to work with all of them. That would be so cool.
Have to. Right?
Yeah. And their sounds are all so different now, so it would be great to see what you come up with for each of them.
100 percent. It would be interesting.
Another thing I wanted to talk about was your “A Song A Week” concept on YouTube. How did you come up with the idea?
Basically, I sat down with my manager a while ago and we were basically saying… I know this sounds ridiculous but I have too many songs. I try to write a song every day if I can. And it just means that, obviously some of them get used if I’m lucky by other artists. I’ll use some of them myself. But there’s so many others that are just going to be left on the shelf. As a songwriter that’s such a horrible feeling because you put your heart and soul into something and then no one can hear it. Plus my fans just love hearing new music whether it’s finished or not. They just like demos. So we were like “let’s just put them out. What’s stopping us from just putting them on YouTube?” And if it gets to time, we can just take them back off and release them properly if we need to. It’s just such a nice platform where we can put a song out. I do little illustrations that I draw with each song.
And it just means I get such a good reaction from the fans. It makes me kind of… It’s an easier way to find out which songs work and what kinds of concepts are connecting with my fanbase. We’ve actually found, this one song that we put out called “Different People.” It’s one of the early demos. Before, we were like “we’re not sure about this song if it needs to be out properly.” Now because of the reaction that we have from the fan. They love it. We were like “ok we have to finish this and get it out ASAP.” That’s such a kind of rare thing to have from a fanbase. Just to get their opinion on things super early.
It’s a really innovative idea, and I love the way that you’re using YouTube to do that. I’m also amazed. You said your goal is to work on a song a day?
That’s incredible. That’s a really impressive turnaround.
Sometimes it gets a little bit stressful. But that’s what I’m here to be. I love writing songs so I do it as much as possible.
It gives you so much material to think about. So it sounds like you have another single coming after “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t.” Will it be “Different People”?
No. We’re going to save that for now. But it’ll come at some point. We have another song coming I think maybe a month and a half or two months off, though.
Are you working toward another album or is it just singles now?
I think yeah… We’ll do what we did in 2018. What that was was we released three, four real solid songs that I love. We’ll do that then towards the end of the year we’ll start to think about doing another project. Whether it be another album or an EP I’m not sure. I like to kind of make these smaller albums that are a nice burst of how I’ve been feeling that year. The next stepping stone in my career, basically.
The concept of doing a mini-project like that gives your fans so much to look forward to. And you have so many opportunities to be creative.
Do you have anything else in store for the rest of the year? Any more tours or are you working with anyone else in the near future?
Over the summer I’m doing a lot of writing with artists and myself. Then I think I’ll probably head over to America for a bit to do some writing as well. Then toward the end of the year I’m looking at planning to do a headlining tour. Whether that will be a UK tour or a European tour, we’re still trying to figure that out. But we’re aiming for that. So that’s the goal – by the end of the year to have a headline tour in the runnings. That is super exciting to me because I have never done a headline show outside of London. So that’s going to be an amazing experience.
Thank you so much. it was so nice to talk to you this morning.
You too. Likewise.