Exclusive Interview: Liv Dawson talks ‘Pushing 21’, pressures and what’s next

After dropping her ‘Bedroom EP’ at the end of last year, Liv Dawson has come a long way and show’s no sign of slowing down as she gears up for the next chapter in her career.

Following the recent release of her incredible new single ‘Pushing 21’, Liv Dawson sat down with CelebMix to talk about new music, changes and what’s to come.

Pushing 21 has been doing really well, you’ve received over 130,000 streams in under a week I wanted to know how you’re feeling?

It’s amazing, I honestly didn’t expect a reaction at all. Obviously with my last songs it’s been amazing as well but this was just a completely different feel and yeah I’ve just been getting so much love for it.

I saw you mentioned on Instagram that the song was only written a month ago? What was the inspiration for it and how did the song come about?

Yeah, it was around a month ago and basically I had made a few changes in my career and I went in the studio with George Cunningham, who I write all of my stuff with, and a producer called Gill Lewis. We just started talking about changes that we’ve been making and steps that I’ve been making that are more independent as an artists and as a person; just cutting off people that don’t benefit me in certain ways. I think the main subject we were going to write about was having your kindness taken for weakness and that turned into this coming of age song which is definitely an anthem for young kids who are trying to do whatever they want in their life and shows that you don’t need a massive backing to do what you want to do. I think it relates to older people though as well because whatever age you’re pushing you can listen to it and you can relate.

You mentioned changes, were these in terms of your team, label wise or within yourself?

It was a whole thing, kind of like as the first line says, ‘I guess I need a brand new start’. That’s basically what it’s all about, starting a fresh and I had some changes in my personal team and the people around me; it was mainly just that I always preach ‘make sure you’ve got the right people around you and make sure everyone is positive’ but then I realised that I’m not actually doing that for myself. I definitely had to do that myself so after I’d done that I thought that I had to write about it, get it out there and a lot of people, more people that I thought, have related which I think is amazing.

In terms of the video, what was your concept behind it?

The main concept for the video is basically making a good situation out of a bad situation. It’s basically me going into this gig which has been set up and I don’t really want to it because it’s in the middle of nowhere and it ends up being just this one man watching. It’s just this old guy at the pub and as it goes on I’m imagining that it’s this crazy big gig and at the end it goes back to the one guy. The thing about this shoot though was that usually for me, videos are quite daunting because I’m quite an introvert when it comes to performing but this just felt like a whole new thing and the whole day was so amazing. We managed to get a great team on board and the party scene was insane ad I think watching the video back now, you can make what you want from it, but I just think it’s a really nice video and it makes you feel really good and I think it reflects on the song.

Compared to the Bedroom EP you dropped at the end of last year, what would you say is the biggest difference between those songs and what you’ve been recording recently?

I think my songs now that I’ve been making I’ve really been imagining them in big stadiums. I’ve been listening to bigger artists and been obsessed with Taylor Swift and the way that all of her songs are very meaningful so I’ve been making sure that I have god concepts there and just being able to make sure anyone can chant out the lyrics, keeping them very anthemic like I think that when I went on tour with Khalid I was preforming ‘I Liked you’ and that was the song that everyone happened to really like and everyone throughout Europe warmed to it and I think that was because it’s quite simple to remember so the ‘I like you, I like you’ part everyone latched onto. I think it’s the same with Pushing 21 because even at the video shoot the extra’s, who didn’t even know who I was, by the end were just singing 21, 21, 21 and its very easy to latch onto that and makes people really happy which I think is really important and I’ve definitely been carrying that into the songs that I’ve been writing recently.

You mentioned touring with Khalid, what has it been like for you touring with artists such as Khalid, Tom Walker and Jessie Ware?

It was amazing! I love playing live and they were definitely different experiences for me and the Khalid tour really opened up that enjoyment of playing live; I’ve always had the anxiety of going on stage and performing to crowds but as soon as I went on tour with him it was like a whole new thing and I definitely saw what I’m working towards. I think it’s easy to get caught up in not really understanding what you’re working for at some points because you’re not seeing progress or you hit a wall but when I toured with him I was like wow this is what I want, this is my goal. Khalid is also a really lovely person, we caught up after every show and he made such an effort which was really nice.

I know you’ve been in the business since you were quite young, do you think that’s helped you navigate your way round the industry?

Yeah, I do think you can learn tricks and understand the industry a lot earlier but I do think it’s about who your surrounding yourself with. For example, being a 14-year-old girl in sessions with older guys who are in their thirties you’re not really going to enjoy it as much as when you’re in your twenties writing with people who are also in their twenties because you’ll most likely know those people a lot more and you can choose your sessions. Saying that, I’ve had the opportunity to write with Disclosure, Jimmy Napes, MJ Cole and all these crazy musicians where I definitely picked up writing tricks and a lot of experience which is really important.

What can we expect from you next?

So, I am writing and recording music; I’ve got three or four singles kind of semi locked in so I’m just finishing those up. I’ve got a collaboration coming up this month and I’m focusing on getting some live shows. I’ve also been Looking at my streams and Germany seem to love my music so hopefully dipping my toe in the German area.

Can you tell us anymore about the collaboration you mentioned?

It’s actually a brand collaboration but it’s coming up this month and there will be a London show so that’s exciting. I’ve got singles coming out after that and I am working towards an album but I feel like I’ve been saying that for so long now but it should be soon. I have got so many songs but it’s just making sure that it’s perfect because I don’t want to put a piece of art out without it being perfect because it’s out there forever but I’m definitely working on it.

With the new music you’ve been writing have you been going in a certain musical direction?

Yeah, honestly I think pushing 21 is the most ‘me’ track and I think that when we were making it I didn’t hold back on anything so I put runs in there that I really wanted to, and done adlibs and harmonies along with everything that I would put in a track normally and Gill the producer really just honed in on that. At first when we wrote pushing 21 I have to admit I didn’t actually really like it and I just thought this is just another but then when I listened through my headphones and thought what it’s about and just imagined people relating to it and singing it I gave goose bumps so I was like ‘oh my god I need to put it out’ and obviously when you’re sitting with something for quite a while and everyone you show is like yeah it’s great you kind of think is this actually going to perform well in the general public and it’s been amazing.

On the topic of new music, have you been working with anyone exciting or do you have any collaborations in the pipeline?

I feel like I do have a few things and I’ve been writing with a lot of my favourite song writers which is exciting and I’m going to line up a few sessions with other writers because I also write for other artists so I’m always in sessions with other producers but I’m focusing on my own material really. I’m making sure that all the songs are really good and if there’s a certain song where I think ‘oh this person would sound amazing on it’ then I’ll reach out. I like collaborations to be more of an organic thing rather than managers messaging managers and being like would they like to do a collaboration and then never meet; I think if it happens, it happens.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I think I’m just most excited about doing some kind of live show and releasing more music. I’m enjoying myself and riding the wave, kind of seeing where it takes me and I think doing it independently is really empowering. I’m just seeing where that takes me, what people I meet along the way and I’m just excited.

We’ve mentioned shows and I was wondering if you have anything in the works tour or festival wise?

At the moment we’re working on it, I have recently mentioned it so when it happens it happens but I do have the collaboration which involves a London show.

As a young individual in the industry how do you remain grounded and make sure you aren’t lost in all the madness the industry brings?

 I think because I know what it’s like to have that grind and to be at a point where you don’t feel like anything is moving. I’m definitely humble and I know what it’s like to not have a lot of buzz going on so anything that’s happening is exciting, I love it and I’m so grateful. I think when you know what it’s like to have that hustle and really want to work hard for it then that just automatically makes you really humble; and also the people around you are important. I try to surround myself with people who are nice and supportive.

Your Instagram has the ultimate cool girl vibe but do ever feel pressure to portray a certain image on social media?

I feel like everyone feels the pressure of social media and being a girl or a guy you’re just on social media seeing all these amazing models that are all over your feed. I always try to mix it up now and then like when I feel like my Instagram is getting a bit too posed then I will post something that looks more realistic. I follow people who don’t take themselves too seriously because I think that can be quite toxic if you think all these people are perfect when they’re not. It’s just making sure that you unfollow those people who are making you feel bad about yourself and not spending too much time on Instagram and twitter etc.

Do you have any career defining goals?

Oh yeah, I write them out all the time. Since touring with Khalid, obviously those shows are insane, I think to do a tour like that of my own would be amazing and I think playing Hammersmith Apollo or doing two nights there would make my world. I don’t know what I would do; I’d have to party so much after. That’s the goal at some point and I think once I’ve played that show I will think life’s good and It can get better and better.

There’s been loads of good music out recently, who have you been listening to?

I have been listening to Taylor Swift I love her and I think her music’s great. I’ve been listening to Daniel Ceaser, H.E.R, a lot of R and B like Mahalia and Jorja Smith. Raye has been killing it internationally, Oh and Mabel, I love her song ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ she’s really good, I really like her.

how would you describe your music and yourself if you only had three words?

Relatable, Honest and Boppy. I feel like you can bop to music, you can’t full on dance but you can bop.

Lastly, Are there any songs that you wish you had sang or written yourself?

I wish I wrote ‘365’ by Katy Perry because it’s one of the best written pop songs I’ve heard in such a long time. It’s one of my favourite songs at the moment and the chorus is so catchy.

Liv Dawson will be performing a special London show on April 30th in collaboration with Skinny Dip. Tickets can be purchased here.

Let us know what you think of our chat over on Twitter @CelebMix

Written by Arun Mohammed

Journalist and music enthusiast who cares for everything showbiz. @arun_Mohammed on twitter or contact me via Email: arunmohammed9@gmail.com
Personal Blog: arunmohammed.com