Q&A: Five minutes with Totten Bridge
New York based musician Totten Bridge released his infectious track ‘Please Dont Love Me’ on the 14th of July via StephJam Music. Refusing to be confined to genre, the multifaceted artist has garnered over 1.5 million streams across all platforms, as well as publication support from the likes of Notion Mag, Earmilk, Backseat Mafia, and Medium. Relying on infectious melodies and tight musical arrangements that culminate in anthemic sing-along choruses, Totten Bridge’s music could be best described as Rock, with British and American influences that incorporate pop, folk, motown, and even EDM at times. Focusing on themes of love and life, his lyrics are relatable in their concise directness, with the ultimate goal of resonating with each listener personally on an emotional level.
‘Please Dont Love Me’ touches on all the above. Featuring tongue-in-cheek lyrics, Totten Bridge sings about love’s finite time frame, and how often we reference ‘forever’ in our relationships, even if we know deep down that we don’t mean it. With an almost latin percussion and EDM beat, ‘Please Dont Love Me’ features an array of intricate guitar melodies over tropical house chords. It’s catchy, relatable, and perfect for both the radio and the club. The type of track you might find blasting on a Caribbean beach as much as a taxi cab in NY City.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Music is something that I started hearing in my head when I was a teenager. It took me awhile to realize that this was music that I was creating internally so I went and got a guitar to try and make sense of what I was imagining. This allowed me to believe that I could share what I was creating because I thought I had something to say that would resonate. I was and still am a voracious reader so if not music then I would have liked to try being an author. And as an aside, I can’t draw or paint to save my life although I love that form of creativity and wish I could!
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Usually the idea comes first but the idea can and is generally influenced by the sound. As for which ideas comes first, the music or the lyrics, it depends. I always try to remain open to whatever inspires me at the time.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
All of my songs I write alone. On the production however, I like to co-produce because I like to see how someone else is interpreting my songs. I love that give and take. I found a great collaborator for me whom I work with and his name is Killian Cruiser.
What’s on your current playlist?
My current playlist has songs from Sam Fender, The Band Camino, Maneskin, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Wunderhorse to name a few and of course I sprinkle in my songs as well. On Spotify, the playlist is called “Pop Rock Rocks.”
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I’m not so sure that I experiment with techniques but I’m very conscious on who are my contemporaries and what market I’m making my music for. That will help me and Killian craft the sound so we feel we can compete successfully against all of the other artists out there, especially the signed artists.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
When Covid started in 2020, recording for me became a very individual thing and that meant recording alone and sharing files and demos with my co-producer which is something that I had to learn to do. Never in a million years did I think that this would be how my music would be done but that’s how I do it now. Back in the day, I would spend hours upon hours in a professional recording studio with tons of gear and an audio engineer and now I work in a room in my house with my computer, my DAW and my instruments and I’m the engineer! My work habits haven’t changed it’s just that the environment has. I still can begin a session in the morning and not stop to eat until dinner or I can just sit down to work out a basic song idea and that can be over in an hour. All depends on how I feel in the moment and if the inspiration is strong. In a way, there is so much less pressure working this way. Back in the day, the pro studios would cost a fortune and you always had to feel like you could walk out of there with something great for the day. Now, I can roll out of bed, get to work and experiment until I’m happy.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
It was about the time that I was becoming a teenager and being a rockstar just seemed so cool. But after the initial appeal, I was intrigued on how these artists were impacting me and I wanted to be able to do the same thing. I wanted to create that special connection with strangers that only music can do!
Any emerging artists on your radar?
I’m usually late to the party with new artists but I have discovered and liked George O’Hanlon, Inhaler, Bartees Strange, Somebody’s Child and I found Sam Fender late but he is my favorite so far.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
There is no rhyme or reason as to how or when I create but when I feel something coming then I get in the zone and make sure that I at least rough out my ideas. Sometimes it’s as simple as humming or playing something into my iPhone and other times I’m in full studio beast mode where I don’t stop working until I feel like I captured some magic. A lot of my ideas come in that period of time just before waking up so that forces me to at least sketch something out. Other times, I could be walking down the street in New York City and I’m forced to whistle or sing into my iPhone. I’m sure many people have thought I was crazy from time to time!
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
I take a very simple approach to creating music. I still play real instruments because I am not a great programmer. I have a Yamaha keyboard, Taylor acoustic guitar, D’Angelico electric guitar and a Fender Jazz bass. I plug my microphone, guitars and keyboard through a Focusrite Scarlett Solo and that interfaces with GarageBand on my Mac. Very simple. I use stock sounds in GarageBand to record and then when I work with my producer, he uses Ableton software and every plug in you can imagine.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Totten Bridge takes up so much of my time that I couldn’t imagine having a side project but I’m always open to new things and would welcome one if it came along.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
My focus has always been on writing the best songs that I can and producing them as well as I can so that they can make an impact on the people that hear them. Music is so subjective and today a great song can go unheard so I’m always trying to up my marketing and social media game as well.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
My new single is called “Better Than Me” and it will be released on October 13th. After that, I will be releasing one more song at the end of November and that will do it for 2023. I am already planning my release strategy for 2024 and have about 10 new songs in different stages of production.
Famous last words?
“What goes around comes around”
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