Interview: Pusher Talks About His Debut Album – ‘Stay-At-Home Popstar’

Toronto-based artist and producer Pusher, aka Martin Bernie, releases his debut album, Stay-At-Home Popstar, a sardonic, optimistic, nihilistic, frustrated, apocalyptic collection of electronic tracks, akin to the sonic version of Seeking A Friend for the End of the World.

Written and sung by Pusher, the album features Genevieve Artadi of Knower, along with extremely talented guest musicians.

Talking about the album, Pusher shares, “‘Stay-at-Home Popstar’ is a fun album for the collapse of civilization. The title originally referred to my own lack of touring, and how artists are forced to only see value in their stats – tour dates, streams, followers, playlists. This album is the product of focusing on my own artistic goals and craft rather than on trying to look like a marketable product by focusing on driving up those numbers.”

With more than 55 million streams, as well as 3.5 million YouTube views, Pusher’s sound merges elements of dance-pop and “neon” jazz into delicious musical potions full of potent beats, reverberating basslines, and redolent vocals.

His music has charted on Billboard Dance/Electronic, Spotify Viral, iTunes, CMJ RPM, CBC Radio, and HypeM, and he’s shared the stage with The Chainsmokers, Zeds Dead, and Phantoms, along with having his music featured in television shows such as Broad City, Siesta Key, and The Ellen Show.

CelebMix spoke with Pusher to discover more about the origin of his name, Pusher, the inspiration for Stay-At-Home Popstar, and how he got started in music.

What inspired your new album Stay-At-Home Popstar?

Annoyance. Wanting to break away from the usual conventions of a music career and make whatever I want to.

What’s the story behind the name Pusher?

It’s from the X-Files, but it wasn’t taken on Soundcloud, and it was easy to pronounce.

Which singers/musicians do you count as influencing your sound?

Frank Zappa, 100 gecs, Francis and the Lights, KNOWER, The 1975, Clarence Clarity, Michael Jackson – I draw from everything I’ve ever heard and like to mix it up. 

Did your sound develop naturally over time, or did you push it deliberately in a specific direction?

I’m always trying to push it into weird new directions, but as Charlie Parker would say ‘First you learn the instrument, then you learn the music, then you forget all that s**t and just play.’

What got you into music? 

Probably, my dad, he plays guitar as a hobby and had a lot of music books around. It’s through him that I was really around music as a major part of life in the first place, and he of course introduced me to The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and Frank Zappa – now I get him into stuff like Flying Lotus, Atoms for Peace, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

The best musician is the one having the most fun. Jacob Collier scares me – he’s too good. A lot of my favorite musicians are on my album, and that excitement is not lost on me. I think Unknown Mortal Orchestra writes extremely subtle and fine music and hides it beneath an almost monotonous indie rock aesthetic – it’s very clever; it’s like hiding all this technical nerd music theory stuff inside an easily digestible package for mass consumption by mainstream indie audiences.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?

I try to be inspired mostly by life. Nothing is worse than a musician writing about music. The world has enough songs about relationships, so I’m trying to create new formulas – lyrically and musically.

What can you share about your writing process?

This isn’t helpful but it’s always different – follow what you like, wherever it comes from or takes you.

What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live gigs? 

Aren’t we still in a pandemic? I’ve been keeping active on social media – especially my TikTok with short educational songs about a range of subjects, where I share alternative viewpoints, I come across reading that are intended to create a more just world for people.

Follow Pusher Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.