Singer-songwriter Audrey’s new album, Status Change, looks at the good and bad of modern day relationships. With over 260,000 streams since it was released in early November, this diverse and empowering album has clearly struck a deep chord with audiences.
Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Audrey to talk about the album and some of the stories behind it.
Q: Your new album, ‘Status Change’, is out now and already has over 260,000 streams. How does it feel to have the album out there and to see this incredible response?
A: It’s so exciting to finally have the album out! Many, many months of work went into it. I actually wrote/recorded 50 songs with different co-writers/producers in LA, London, and Mallorca for this album alone, and then chose the top 13 to actually put on the album. And I’d been releasing singles for the past year, so to finally have the whole record out there is incredibly exciting.
It’s been awesome to see such a positive response so far as well. I’m glad people are liking the music!
Q: ‘Status Change’ explores love and relationships, breakups and self-discovery. What does this album say about the love in the modern world and the impact technology has had on relationships?
A: A number of the songs on the album tell stories of my personal experiences dating in the modern world. Social media, dating apps, and technology in general have really changed the nature of dating.
In fact, the title Status Change (a line from the song, Stampede) was chosen in part to reflect how modern dating makes relationship status changes very public. In Stampede, for instance, I tell the story of changing my status online, i.e., becoming single, and suddenly having guys texting me again. Another example, in 30 Years, I reference “keeping me off of your timeline,” i.e., hiding the relationship from your Facebook timeline.
The album is really commenting on how technology has made relationships more public as well as more accessible with dating apps, texting, and various social media platforms that enable people to find out information about each other more easily (see the reference to “my favorite box of cupcakes, how’d you know?” in Red Flag).
Q: ‘Red Flag’ – one of the first singles from ‘Status Change’ – tells the real-life story of a guy who wouldn’t stop hounding you after you met each other online. Can you tell us more about the story behind ‘Red Flag’ and what message you wanted to convey?
A: Red Flag is a true story, both the song and the music video. I matched with a guy on Bumble who seemed cool at first, but he came on way too strong on the first date (yes, he actually brought me flowers and Sprinkles Cupcakes). He then started talking future plans, and constantly texting/Snapchatting/Instagramming me, and was even seen driving in my neighborhood.
All of these behaviors were big red flags to me. I told him I wasn’t interested, but he would not leave me alone and it turned into this huge ordeal. This was especially weird because it felt like I was having to deal with this big breakup but I wasn’t even in a relationship with him!
I think a lot of women have had their own versions of “red flag” experiences, so it was really important to write a song that conveyed the message that if a someone says she is not interested, that needs to be respected. No means no.
Q: ‘Red Flag’ was created with the female writer/production team LYRE (Annalise Morelli and Alina Smith). We are big fans of the duo here on Close-up Culture. What did you enjoy about your collaboration with them?
A: I loved working with LYRE! They’re obviously very talented and fun to work with and we had a blast in the studio. But what was especially meaningful for this particular collaboration was writing a women empowerment song with an all-female team. Women empowerment is one of the big themes of my album, and I think the message of this song is really important.
Q: As a spaghetti-western fan and someone obsessed with the work of Ennio Morricone, one of my favourite singles from ‘Status Change’ is undoubtedly ‘Bandit’. What is the story behind this track and this sound?
A: Bandit was one of the first songs I wrote that made it on this record and is actually quite the story.
First, background: years ago, I had met Fredrik Thomander and Johan Becker when they guest lectured for a class I was taking at Stanford. We stayed in touch and became friends, and I was always a huge fan of their music. Fredrik was just about to open a brand new studio, Palma Music Studios, in Mallorca, Spain. I’d always wanted to work with them so at the last minute ended up going to Mallorca and working with them right after the studio opened. I was still in the phase of figuring out what I wanted my sound to be, and trying different sounds/ideas.
I like writing songs with interesting titles. My mom back in California actually saw the word “bandit” on a truck, thought it was a cool word and sent me a picture of it, and I became inspired. I brought the word into one of our sessions and we started thinking about how we could write a song with that title. We thought about telling a story of a bandit who was stealing hearts, so the concept of the song was just based on a fantasy.
Musically, the word “bandit” immediately evoked that spaghetti-western vibe, and Fredrik started whistling that riff that’s at the beginning of the song. At the same time, being in Mallorca, I thought it’d be fun to write a song with a Latin vibe. We combined the spaghetti-western whistle with the Latin vibe of the track and started writing from there.
In addition, Dennis Mansfeld was working at the studio down the hall, and he has a terrific voice and speaks Spanish so we thought it would be cool to add some of his vocals in as well. So all of these pieces came together and made up the song. It was one of my personal favorites of all the songs I wrote which is why I released it as the first single off of my album.
Q: You have also released a music video for the song ‘Crazy’. What were you looking to capture in the music video with the help of director and choreographer by Lauren Arnold?
A: When I was brainstorming the music video for Crazy I knew I wanted it to be a beautiful dance video. The song tells the story of falling in love unlike anything experienced before, describing the pain of a long-distance relationship and the euphoria of a love that is all-consuming. The song very much goes between moments of love and moments of lust, and I wanted to convey that in the video.
Lauren Arnold is a masterful dancer and choreographer and really shared and captured that vision. The video begins with me missing my love who is far away, daydreaming about him being with me; this daydream is depicted as a dance sequence. Lauren absolutely nailed the choreography and direction; everything was very purposeful with moments where the dancing is more fun and playful to convey love, and moments of really sexy choreography to convey lust.
I was also incredibly lucky to have Brendon Chan in the video with me, who is one of the best dancers I have ever met (he’s currently in the cast of Hamilton in San Francisco).
Q: You opened for Aly & AJ’s European tour this summer. How did you find the tour life? What did you take away from it?
A: Tour life is incredibly fun but incredibly tiring. It was an absolute blast to get to play to such energetic crowds in such fun venues every night. It was especially exciting to me that so many of the audiences knew a lot of my songs already so they could sing along! And I loved meeting and connecting with fans after the shows and even keeping up with them now on Instagram.
At the same time, tour life was exhausting and a lot more goes into a show than just showing up and performing. I would start every morning doing my steam inhaler, warming up my voice, making sure I was feeling healthy. Then get to the venue early to get ready, set up my equipment, sound check, set up my merch booth, etc. Then after a lot of waiting it’s time to play the show, then wait for Aly & AJ to perform. Then meet fans at the merch booth after the show which was always fun. Then take down my equipment and get changed.
By the time I’d get back to my hotel it would be around midnight and then I had to find food to eat somewhere. Then wake up super early the next morning to travel to the next city and do it all over again. But as tiring as it was, it’s also my favorite thing in the world to get to perform so I absolutely loved it all!
Q: You’ve been making music from a very young age. What has music brought to your life and what does it continue to offer you?
A: Music has always been my greatest passion, ever since I started violin at age three. There are three huge things music brings to my life.
First, songwriting is an outlet for me to express my emotions, stories, and creativity. I’ve had quite an interesting life, especially relationship-wise, and music is a way for me to tell those stories both for myself and for other people who might relate to them. Second, I love singing. In my free time, I spend hours and hours sitting at the piano or at the mic singing because I just love it so much. And third, I love performing and being on stage. So to get to be on stage singing my own songs is literally the dream.
Q: And lastly, what impact would you like to see ‘Status Change’ have on audiences?
A: I would love for Status Change to empower people positively. I’d love for audiences, especially women, to feel empowered to stand up for themselves and be strong, which is what a lot of my songs are about.
I also have a lot of songs about finally finding the right person after years of failed relationships. I hope that this gives people hope that even if they haven’t found “the one” yet, to not settle and to stay hopeful that they will find the right person eventually. There’s enough negativity in the world, and I want people to feel happy and positive after listening to my album.
Title image by Niels Vinck