When Dean Lewis’s aching, enigmatic debut single “Waves” seduced music lovers across the planet last year – earning the Sydney-based singer-songwriter high rotation on Triple J and a place on influential digital playlists worldwide – the sudden success was accompanied by a delicious sense of irony.
“I came up with that song in about a day, sitting in an apartment in London,” explains Lewis. “I was in the UK, writing and recording, living the dream basically, and I was wondering why I wasn’t enjoying myself, thinking how weird the whole thing was. ‘Waves’ flowed from that feeling: ‘Why can’t I enjoy this!’ Next day I travelled to this beautiful little studio in the English countryside and recorded the song in one session. Funnily enough, ever since, I’ve been enjoying everything a whole lot more!” Despite that, the song’s perfect balance of intimacy and intensity, married to the honesty that lights the dappled regrets Lewis articulates, helped it connect immediately.
For Dean, it all really started when he was sitting with his younger brother years ago and his dad put on a DVD called Oasis Manchester Live 2005. “I remember watching Liam Gallagher walk out with this hat and red jacket and watching him with Noel, they were just the coolest guys ever. I spent the next five years watching every Oasis video – Noel Gallagher basically taught me how to write songs.” Dean’s Oasis obsession also stirred some older musical memories in him, as his newfound lust for rhythm and melody took him back to the sounds of his childhood. “Some of my earliest memories are my dad showing my brothers and I his guitars and telling us when we’re old enough he’ll give them to us,” Lewis recalls. “My dad is a massive music fan. He had a big CD collection and was always playing The Beatles, Oasis or Van Morrison.” As he began to feel his way into creating and crafting his own music, Dean continued to be inspired by mostly UK artists – Richard Ashcroft, The Kooks and more recently, Catfish and The Bottlemen. “I’m just obsessed with his songwriting,” Dean states. “It’s so simple and melodic. He doesn’t over think it, and that inspires me. But more recently it’s certain songs that I get obsessed with. I consume music obsessively but it’s kinda focused. I’ll be so inspired by a song, then listen to it on repeat and only want to listen to that one song!”
Fortunately fans of “Waves”, recorded with Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway (Gabrielle Aplin) and mixed by Dan Grech (Halsey, Josef Salvat) won’t have to contend themselves with one song. Inspired by the instant international response to his first single, Lewis has been in a creative frenzy, writing and recording more than 100 songs, the first tantalizing taste of which comes in the form of new EP, Same Kind of Different.
“I’ve written so many songs,” says Lewis, “the challenge was to look back at what I’d written and find which songs work together as a collective. It was actually harder than writing in some ways.” Building on some of the wisdom gleaned from those sessions, Same Kind of Different blends the idyllic atmosphere of the countryside sessions that produced “Waves” with the whirlwind of experiences Lewis has enjoyed since. Along with “Waves”, Lewis recorded one of his favourites “Let Go” with the duo and on a free day nearing Christmas, Holloway and Lewis decided to record a cover of Amy Shark’s “Adore”.
“Need You Now’ was also recorded just outside of London, at another farmyard studio “where we just caught some magic. I am a big believer in the idea that when that happens, you don’t try to fight it or understand it, you just go with it.”
Similarly, when Lewis hooked up with Melbourne studio guru John Castle (Vance Joy, Paul Kelly), the sparks that flew were too good to ignore. “I wrote ‘Lose My Mind’ after a break up, really just exploring that feeling of how when you lose somebody, you go crazy,” says Lewis. “I took it into John, and it was just meant to be a test, sort of to see if we could work together. A day-and-a-half later, we were both like, ‘Hell yeah, we can work together!’” “Chemicals”, a song Lewis wrote earlier was also recorded with Castle which is one of the six songs featured on Same Kind of Different which make for an incredible introduction to Dean Lewis.
Make no mistake, however, this is just the beginning…“I love ‘Waves’, and I love the songs on this EP,” says Lewis, “but this is just the starting point. These are the songs that I felt were right to share first, but I have a hundred of others ready to go”.