Interview: David Archuleta Talks “OK, All Right” & Confessional New Album
As a whole, we’ve faced down some rather bleak news in the last few weeks. In the face of global tragedies such as the coronavirus pandemic, it can be challenging to keep our spirits lifted. But David Archuleta is here to deliver a dose of pure positivity with his new single “OK, All Right.” Out today (March 27) the sugary bop is all about controlling our response to bad news. “When I lose my mind, I go places nobody can find,” the “Paralyzed” crooner admits on the build up to the chorus. “When I lose my way, I just look at myself in the mirror and say…” That’s when it all hits.
“It’s fine, I’m fine, OK, all right,” David relentlessly chants. Written over a year ago, the hitmaker explained the song took on new meaning in the lead up to its release. “While I wrote it originally to help people get through their bad days and moods in a bit of a humorous way, I think it’s something we can all use as a reminder in the world, especially these days,” he said. “That even when things get tough, things will turn out OK, All Right.” He further illustrates the point in an accompanying music video. Co-directed by Justin Thorne and Kevin McHale, it’s a cheeky and upbeat must-see.
Earlier this month I had an opportunity to hop on the phone with David to talk about his timely release. The American Idol alum opened up about how he brought the song to life with the assistance of producer and co-writer Chantry Johnson. He also told me the personal story behind the song’s lyrics and explained what it was like working with Kevin McHale on the video shoot. That’s not all. The hitmaker proceeded to spill some tea about an upcoming album. The follow-up to 2017’s Postcards In The Sky is due in the very near future and sounds like it will be his most confessional work to date.
Press play on “OK, All Right” below and dive into our interview to learn more about what is on the horizon.
“OK, All Right” feels like an infinitely relatable bop. I was hoping you could talk to me about how the song came together.
It started with the melody. I just had it in my head. And that’s all I had. So I went in with my buddy Chantry Johnson and said “hey this is the melody I have.” And then all I could hear in my head… I feel like a lot of times I’m consistently throughout the day, all week, every day I’m constantly trying to calm myself down.
Because I just… I don’t know. I’m freaked out about something or waiting to think something’s going to go wrong or that I’m going to be a failure. I’m going to do something wrong. Or I could have made better choices. Who knows what. I can’t ever shut it off. I think those thoughts were in my head as they usually are at that moment. So as the melody was going I feel like saying “it’s fine. I’m fine. Ok. All right.” Because that’s what I try to tell myself a lot of times anyways.
I say a lot of those words. “It’s going to be fine. I’m fine. You know? It’s ok. It’ll be all right.” So I just started chanting the “it’s fine. I’m fine. Ok. All right.” Because I had to keep repeating it to myself. I’m trying to distract myself with assuring words. I’m trying to distract it from all the chaos that’s going on inside my head at the same time. So that’s why I keep chanting it in the song as well.
So that’s how it came about. We filled it in with the things that would be the things I’m trying to distract myself from in the verses.
I love that you just touched on the chant because it’s something I wanted to talk about. I think that refrain is something everyone has said at some point or another. But the delivery can go one of two ways. Sometimes I say it sarcastically out of frustration. But sometimes I really believe it. Did that cross your mind at all while you were writing or do you have a situation where it can mean something different to you?
You know, I would say I totally relate to both of those. The words come up in a very sarcastic way. And that’s part of why the song’s a little sarcastic. Because it’s like “wait is it really fine? Is it really ok?” Then the other side of it… I really do. Those words keep repeating over and over. I don’t know why, but my brain, the thoughts just get so loud. Like I can’t even pay attention to what people are saying sometimes.
It’s just like “yeah, blah blah blah. This is what we’re doing with the music or the album. Let’s write this song. Hey would you like fries with your order?” And it’s like the thoughts are attacking me. I can’t concentrate on anything. I don’t know. I’ll say things like “oh this song’s going to be a disaster. Oh this person’s probably not going to want to be your friend because you said this. Or they’ll sense your insecurity. Or why are you getting the burger? You should be eating healthier.”
I don’t know, just anything. It gets so loud. And it may not even be a big deal, but my brain makes it sound like a bigger deal than it is. And so I’m just calmly trying to be like “you know what, it’s fine.”
It’ll work out, yeah.
“It’s ok, and I’m going to be all right. It’s going to work out.” You may not see any way of getting out of negativity. But I can assure you that you’ve been through this before. You wanted the same things, you felt the same way. And you’re here two years later still. You’ve made progress and you’re doing ok for yourself.
And so in that way I have to say… I just tell myself out loud “it’s going to be ok. Look at the trees, aren’t they beautiful?” It’s a wonderful world to live in and there’s a lot of opportunities.
Yeah. Whatever it takes to beat the inner monologue. Then this is your first single of 2020. I was wondering why it felt like the right song to start off the year with?
I think it was… I feel like it says what a lot of people can relate to. A lot of people get stressed out. But at the same time they don’t want to dwell on the stress even though it’s dwelling inside of their head. They want to get it out and off of them. They just might not know how to. So I feel like the song is a good way of saying “life can get so annoying sometimes. But it still feels good.”
You know? There’s that irony and sarcasm inside the song where it’s like “ugh. These terrible things are going on.” But it’s still happy. And it still makes people move. I still want to make people smile. I think 2020 it’s a decade. A new beginning. It’s the end of the old. Always with those 0’s at the end of the year. It makes people look at it with fresh eyes.
I feel like it was a good way… I feel like it’ll be a good anthem for people this year. Getting into the 2020’s.
I can think of a couple reasons why we need it right now. There are a couples reasons why we need a personal pick-me-up every day. I also wanted to touch on the video. I feel like it does an excellent job of bringing the song to life. I love how you open and close in the same scene, but the mood is so drastically different.
Did you have any particular goals when you started working on the video?
I wanted it feel kind of like the day to day. Just a going about your day feel. Because that’s kind of how the song describes it anyway. It’s like hitting midday and all the things that would happen throughout your day that could make you frustrated or stressed out. Or make you feel down. I wanted it to be funny. I wanted to poke fun at myself a little bit. And I don’t know show that you can laugh at things that happen sometimes. I just wanted people to have fun. I wanted them to laugh when they watched the video.
Absolutely. And I feel like you definitely achieve that. I also wanted to talk about Kevin McHale who co-directed the video. How did the two of you get linked up?
We have mutual friends, and I did a Christmas video last year. I did an NSYNC cover with the other director Justin. And Justin was friends with my management team, and they were all friend with Kevin as well. It was just like part of the group that was in there. So I had watched Kevin’s video that he had for “Help Me Now” that Justin directed. We had him do “Happy Holidays” which then led to giving him a stab at “OK, All Right.” I did another video with him as well, which will be coming out later on. But we’re going to have “OK, All Right” come out first.
Kevin is a really nice guy. He’s fun, and he’s a performer as well. So he understands what things I might be needing on set. Like if I’m not understanding he’ll just run over and explain it to me in a pretty easy to understand way. And I think that’s also what helps make it feel like it wasn’t really work. It didn’t make it feel like… It just felt like fun. It didn’t feel like “Ok I have to perform this.” He was great to work with.
This is the first taste of an upcoming album. Can you talk at all about what inspired the body of work?
The last album I did three years ago was called Postcards In The Sky. And it was similar. They’re like brother-sister albums. Because Postcards In The Sky was more like “this is what I’ve learned and maybe I can teach someone else and help them.” It was more like the perspective of I want you to know this. And I want to lift you up and help you find your voice. My goal was to help people with depression or who are anxious like I am. This is I want you to find the courage to get the outlet that you need essentially.
And with this album I feel like I’m talking about my process of getting help that I need. This is what’s going down with me. And this is what I’ve learned from my therapy sessions. This is what’s all going on in my head that I have to deal with. This is where I maybe freak out and stress out and feel like my world is crumbling and that I’ve messed everything up and I’m going to amount to nothing. Pick the pieces back up and keep walking. I’m really excited. I feel like it’s going to be really therapeutic to get this album out for me.
It sounds like a very personal project. Was it hard to put so much of yourself on display knowing you’d have people listen to it?
A little bit. I feel like over the last year I’ve talked a lot about these personal things on Instagram. And I’m grateful for social media in that way. Where I can just share a thought like a blog post. But in scrolling form where you just look at it and can scroll to something else. I feel like I’ve kind of intro’d it already to my fans. At least if they’ve been keeping on top of what I’ve been posting.
But I do feel like it’ll be refreshing. I feel like I’m going to help people. You know, when you’re in the spotlight a lot of people put you on a pedestal. They think you can do no wrong. That you’re always happy. Everybody likes you and you don’t have any problems. I feel like it’s going to be refreshing to be like “hey, I struggle a lot. And this is what goes on in my head.” I describe it. I describe what’s going on. So I think it’ll be really nice.
I’m looking forward to hearing more if it. And it sounds like you have another track coming soon after “OK, All Right.” One thing that I think is interesting about the lead track is that it is very bright despite touching on heavier themes. Will that be the case for the rest of the music for the project?
I feel like it will be a mixture. I’m not consistent enough of a person to have everything the same. I can’t swim the same amount of laps each day. Because if so I get depressed. I feel like I’m not going anywhere with everything being the same. So I’m like ok I’m going to swim 50 laps today. And then 40. Then 60. Then 45. Or… I don’t know why.
But I feel like I’m the same with my music. I wish I could. I feel like I’d get better reviews with CDs if I had more of a consistency. But at the same time I just need the full spectrum. I need a little bit of everything. So there’s happy things kind of like “OK All Right.” Kind of like despite whatever may be going on in my head. Then there’s other things that are… yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on in my head.
But I do feel like there’s several other songs that have that upbeat groove to them. In contrast to the lyrics and how frustrated and lost I feel.
Personally I like that because I feel it gives a more authentic feel to the album. Because as humans we have a solid mix. So that makes me even more excited to hear the rest of the album.
Oh, thank you.
Of course. Do you have any idea when we’ll be hearing the next song?
Pretty soon. Like next month.
Yeah. April is when it’s going to come out.
Awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I’m so looking forward to everything you have coming out this year.
Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy the other songs!