Trevor Douglas is one of music’s young stars on the rise. With his debut EP, Four in The Morning, set to be released on October 19, I got the chance to talk with him about the process behind recording it, the stories behind some of the songs, what he wants people to take away from the EP and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
I want to kind of start with a more general question about your music. Your sound would probably be classified as pop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe your music?
Oh, gosh. I’m going to be honest, I feel like it’s still varying because once the EP comes out, you’ll see that there’s a lot of variety. I have this 80s song that I just released. And on the EP, I’m also going to have this real folk song because I just love that style of music. Honestly, I just make music that I love and that I listen to. I know that doesn’t describe the style, but it’s definitely more in the popular realm, but it’s just the style of music that I listen to, which is a lot of stuff.
Going off of that, who are some of your biggest influences when it comes to music that you maybe grew up on or you’re currently listening to now?
Currently, it’d have to be Charlie Puth. I loved Voicenotes. I still love Voicenotes. That album was phenomenal. I love a lot of 80s hits, no one in particular because I don’t think most artists other than Michael Jackson or the big artists of the 80s had tons of good songs. Most of them had just a few hits. So “Never Going to Give You Up” or “Your Love” by Outfield or Whitney, Whitney Houston had a lot of good songs. Some other artists [I like] being Ed Sheeran, Childish Gambino is a huge influence on me because I love his voice in the sense of he has so much personality and inflection when he speaks and when he sings more than almost any other artists I can think of. I really try to emulate that because you can really hear emotion in his voice. It’s not like he’s just a good singer; he’s acting out and you can tell the emotions in his voice. So Childish Gambino, I love 80s music, I love 90 boy bands, stuff like that. I love making cheesy things good.
For the last little bit, you’ve been putting out single after single after single. So what made you want to put out an EP this time versus just more singles and doing it the way you’ve been doing it for the last couple of years?
Most of the singles I’ve been putting out have just been covers. So they were me learning how to record myself. If you go from the first cover I put out, which was “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, it was kind of bad. It was not recorded well [laughs]. Then they got really good, well I feel like they got good, [through the last one] I released which was “God’s Plan” by Drake. And then once I started putting out my original stuff, that’s when I really started to know what I was doing. I felt like I was comfortable enough. I wanted to release more of a project, but it’s just been very hard to get it all together, the whole project. These three singles are going to be part of the EP, “Pressure,” “Stay By Your Side” and “Take This Back.” But I would rather put out bigger projects like EPs, eventually an album. But in the way that I have to do everything by myself – because I’m recording myself, I promote myself, I hire people to help me promote my things too. I don’t have the time and resources to put out a whole album. Does that make sense?
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. What was that recording process like? How long did it take for this to come together from start to finish?
I started maybe like a year ago now? Close to a year ago. Two of the songs are songs that I wrote for other projects that I decided to use here as well. But the first song I wrote specifically was “Pressure” and that came out in February and I started recording these in like, I want to say like November or December.
Yeah, it’s been a little bit. Each of the songs took their own different length of time, like “Pressure” fell together really easily because it was a great song. Everything about it was easy. “Stay By Your Side” was also a little easier. But then the rest of them were a lot harder. I think I got more critical of myself too, so they took longer. One of the songs on the EP, “Hold Me,” I had to do several versions of that song until I got one that I was happy with.
Several versions in terms of just recording it over and over again or several versions in terms of rewriting lyrics?
Different types of styles. I had one that was straight acoustic; I was trying to do it in like an acoustic, lovey kind of vibe because it’s an emotional song. Then I tried to go real pop. I tried to go more like Ed Sheeran type. And then I eventually settled on a little bit more of an 80s kind of funk-ish romance tune. Same with “Take This Back,” that took a couple of versions as well before I decided on the style.
Talking about “Pressure,” it came out in February and it is the first single you released. What was the conversation about that song in terms of why you chose to release it first? Was there a specific reason? Because obviously, the first single you put out is going to set some sort of standard in terms of the sound of this EP and who you are as an artist.
Well, not all the songs were done yet, if I’m being honest [laughs]. I had been working on them for a long time. But “Pressure,” I think it was one of the stronger songs. It has a fantastic hook and, compared to any of the other songs that I’ve put out, it’s done fantastic. It somehow got on the algorithmic playlist that Spotify makes so it’s done really well. But yeah, I just think it was one of the better songs on the EP in terms of what would be really pop and what a lot of people would like. I think I have songs that are better in other ways, as in better production or better songwriting, but I think that song was one of my favorites, my personal favorites, and a strong single.
“Take This Back” is the most recent single. What made you want to release a single so close to the release of the EP?
I just needed to get the hype back up. I needed to be like, “Hey guys, remember I exist.” I’m not really good at planning and thinking ahead. I have a PR person named Sera who’s really nice and she helped me with that. It was her idea. She’s like, “Let’s get a single. We’ll do all this and we’ll push a single and we’ll tell people that like, ‘Hey, all this stuff exists. You have an EP coming out and that people should be ready for it.'” So yeah, just to build hype pretty much.
All the songs, except for “Problems,” are about one girl. “Problems” is about an old girl that I don’t talk to anymore. So “Dandelions” goes through stages, of course, but it starts off real about a girl for like the first two seasons and then I started imagining what if with what we want to do, which is be in the entertainment business, what if it didn’t work out? But in that first scene, I’m actually describing an actual situation with a specific person, the very first season, not when it gets to the dandelions, that was more just me playing around, but I have a very specific spot I was in when I was describing the opening of that song.
Yeah, that one’s definitely my favorite and the one I’ve been listening to the most so far. I really enjoy that one.
I really appreciate it.
Going back to more of a general question: where does the name of the EP “Four in the Morning” come from?
I just am a night owl and I just work really late. It was for multiple reasons that I would work really late. I had to work on it in the summer and the insulation in my house isn’t great and it gets really hot, so I could only really record at night or else it would get too hot in my closet, which is where I record, and the fan would go off. But I would work up until the sun came up and I know the sun doesn’t come up at four, but “Four in the Morning” sounds better than six in the morning, five in the morning, three in the morning. But it’s just basically saying I stayed up really late and I poured my heart out into these songs, [that’s] kind of where the title came from.
Last question — what do you hope this EP says about you as an artist and your career at this particular moment?
I really hope it says, “Hey everybody, this guy exists. He’s very good. Please give him some attention. Put him on your tour. Pick him up.” Because it’s harder to find artists that can do it all themselves. Most artists do not produce their own music and they have producers. They have writers write their songs, but when you can have an artist that can do that all by themselves it’s easier for labels to pick it up. And I just would hope that it says to people that this guy works really hard. He’s really good and this is somebody to watch out for and keep an eye on.
Photo Credit: Alexandria Bryant