For Mitchy Collins of lovelytheband, music doesn’t follow any logic. Situated in an era of engineerable pop music, where a summer’s top hits can be predicted from the sound patterns of the genre, Collins is an anomaly for his time.
As the band’s lead singer, Collins’ life is the muse for much of the band’s discography. On the topic of its most recent release Finding It Hard To Smile, Collins said in an interview with The Daily Californian: “It’s just what I deal with every day — dealing with depression and anxiety, girls who won’t love me back, relationships I’ve fucked up, selfish behavior, you know, just my life.”
But when asked what it’s like to share personal intricacies and emotions with such a large audience, Collins claimed not to think about it that way.
“I didn’t really think like that when I was writing (the songs),” Collins said. “I was just kind of writing to write them, you know, to get it out. Anything after that is kind of a blessing.”
Collins came back to this train of thought when asked about his musical process. According to him, each song is created differently, with “no scientific equation to it.” The pairing of certain beats with certain lyrics “wasn’t a conscious decision by any means.”
This speaks to something relatively underrepresented in 2018’s music: a lack of motive. Not to be confused for having a lack of purpose, Collins’ music is not made for an audience, and so it asks nothing of the audience that it has.
“Watching (my music) grow has been really special and a blessing for sure. (But) I don’t try to think about it as ‘Oh, wow, so many people are hearing this,’ ” Collins said. “It’s awesome — don’t get me wrong, but I’m kind of trying to take it one day at a time.”
He elaborated: “And you know, reading the messages that fans send is really special, hearing how the music has helped them overcome something or maybe get help, or help them in any way, it’s rewarding for sure.”
Collins’ humble gratitude might come across as false, indicating a pretension or self-absorption, had it come from another artist. But from him, the short replies and insistent disinterest in an audience are genuine. Collins really seems to be making music to make music; for him, it’s a form of self-expression, reflection, catharsis. Take the band’s radio hit “Broken” — the beat is buoyant, the melody catchy, the storyline relatable. But it wasn’t created with those hit qualities in mind.
“It started out as a girl meets girl, guy meets guy, person meets person story,” Collins said. “And looking back on it, it’s a bit more introspective than that — it’s me telling myself it’s OK. What you’re feeling is fine, it’s normal, it’s OK to not be OK sometimes.”
Now that it is a radio hit, Collins seems glad it is: “Maybe (listeners) can find solace in knowing that they’re not alone in how they might be feeling — that there’s people out there feeling just like (them).”
This is the same mindset Collins said he brings to his live shows — the band’s next stop after its Los Angeles show will be at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on Friday night. He said he likes to see “everybody connecting and singing the lyrics back” and to feel “the energy of the crowd,” that “there’s nothing like it.”
The only thing he doesn’t like: the heat in the concert venue.
“Sometimes I get sweaty,” Collins said. “I don’t like getting sweaty.”
Collins makes it clear that he is a person — just like you, just like me. And he wants you to think of him that way, too. He makes music, sure, and sometimes he even makes radio hits, but not out of a need to be famous, to be heard, to be idolized. He’s just talented, emotional, and occasionally, he’s sweaty.
And he’s surprised when he hears his music playing in an Uber.
“It’s surreal getting in an Uber now and hearing (my music) on the radio randomly. It’s bizarre. You know, when you put it out, you never dreamed of it getting to where it’s gotten,” Collins said. “I don’t know — it’s crazy. I can’t really put it into words.”
Olivia Jerram is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].