For our 20th Clapper Sounds Interview, we’re highlighting DFW-based musician, Everett Lewis!
Everett, better known as @Everett_Lewis_Music on Clapper, has been performing for his whole life – and that’s no hyperbole. His sound is pop-punk nostalgia, perfect for those of us that grew up on Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, and All Time Low. Everett’s song Dad Bod was a huge hit at our New Year’s Eve Open Mic. He is working on new music to release in 2023. We sat down with Everett to learn more about his musical theater beginnings, his views on content creation as a musician, his advice for new artists, and more!
Clapper Sounds is meant to be an intimate musical experience, and we want that mission to translate into our written interviews too. Check out Everett’s Clapper profile to get a better idea of his sound and hear his voice in action. This cover is one of our favorites!
What is your first memory of being involved with music and how did you start your artist journey?
Oh boy! Does karaoke count? Because my earliest memory of music is when I was 5 years old. After my sister’s first communion we went to this Filipino restaurant called Max’s in Glendale, California. I sang Tearing Up My Heart by the Backstreet Boys, and was getting down on my knees, all that! Then I just continued to do talent shows, and performed something from Chicago when I was in fifth grade. And then I started performing with my friend, Mikey, and we would choreograph dances. Our big one was Sugar Pie Honey Bunch. He had his brother choreograph for us because he was in show choir. Then we were performing at these Filipino American fashion shows and events and stuff. It started off very young.
Tell us more about this shift from performing well-known songs to performing your own. Where did that start?
I think it started towards the tail end of high school, when I was transitioning out of show choir into theatre. I got my first acoustic guitar and started writing my own songs about breakups and heartbreaks I was going though at the time. It was very much during 2011, when The Script was popular. My early songs are very reminiscent of The Script era type of writing. Very down and very heartbroken.
Do you have a specific songwriting process?
It differs for every song, but if I was to pick it apart, I typically will start with the chorus. I’ll try to find something that hooks; obviously you want something to be catchy, so you want to get that part down first. Then I’ll work backwards, and sometimes I’ll work on three songs that end up becoming one. I’m like: “Oh, I didn’t really like this thing for a chorus, it’s not catchy enough. Let me make it into a bridge for this song. Or let me kind of reverse engineer, maybe make it a verse.” For a long time, I didn’t want it to feel stagnant throughout the entire song and I think that comes with the musical theatre background. So my first and second verses will be completely different. They’ll have a different structure, different melody, and it’s that chorus that strings it all together.
But there’s not just one way of doing it. A lot of times I’ll be inspired by a different song, like: “Okay, let me write my version of this song. Let me take influences from this song.” Not necessarily ripping it off but just making it my own. By the time I’m finished with it, these are two completely different products.
What are your thoughts on content creation via social media as an artist?
It’s definitely a great platform that is now being fully utilized, but it’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s never been more accessible to become a content creator, but we get sucked into it too much and we’re constantly performing, so you got to strike that balance. But for the pure performer and the artists who go out and express their art and need a platform to do it, there’s never been a better tool to market yourself and to share your products or your content with the world.
How do you keep your balance between sharing your art through content and marketing yourself while keeping your sanity?
Maybe I’m not the best example of it; I probably could work harder at marketing myself and not always being a consumer. I think I have to realize within myself that it’s different from being on stage, where you get that instant gratification of the feedback and response from an audience. I need to strike a balance of being able to consume content and also output content, because it’s easy to get sucked into just content consuming. If we really want to platform ourselves, we have to be a little more vulnerable.
And not necessarily worry if you’re annoying the ones back home with all the marketing, if you’re coming off very arrogant, or selfish. I think it’s something that people in the art community understand it’s not necessarily you being self consumed. It’s just part of the game where you have to market yourself and kind of part of the job. Like I said, I could be better at it. Constantly posting, making sure you let everyone know if you have a show coming up, if you have like a song that’s dropping you have to tease it like you would a movie.
Tell us a little about your upcoming release!
I’ve kind of completed the demo of the song that I want to release. Now it’s onto finding what technician or producers I want to work with to make it sound professional and to distribute it. It’s an exciting process! I was shooting for the end of the 1st quarter of this year, but it’ll probably have to be a little more into the 2nd quarter; it’s been a learning process of trying to record at home and trying to produce something from scratch. From bringing something that usually starts on your acoustic guitar to something that has drums, that has synth, that has a base line, that has electric guitar, that has vocals. And vocals are the hardest thing because everyone hates the sound of their voice. No matter how many takes I do, I will hate every single one of them. I’ll just have to get to a point where I’m like “I have to move on”. This is a demo, and when I get to the studio, I’ll be able to have someone else to bounce off of.
How do you know when to end? Do you have that answer for yourself, or are you just like trying to keep your mind like off of it and just have like a professional come in and give their advice?
I have a couple friends that I feel comfortable sending out what I do have and getting some some initial feedback to get it out of my own head. Sometimes they’ll come back with suggestions that I didn’t even think about, so it definitely helps. It’s hard to find that stopping point because we’re so harsh on ourselves that if we wanted to, we could work on this this one thing till we die and it still wouldn’t be perfect. That’s why George Lucas is always making new editions to Star Wars, is always wanting to add like more things. We could honestly go back and remaster and remix every song that we’ve ever done. At some point, you have to realize that this is just a snapshot of this point in time and you have to show your growth. It’s okay if this isn’t 100% perfect because 5 years down the road when I have something else, you can see that difference. You can see that growth.
Do you have any side hustles that you balance with your music? Or do you commit to music full-time?
Music is my side hustle, essentially. I work with data in IT, so that boring 9-to-5 stuff that I don’t really talk about at parties. This is the side of me that is the exciting portion. The job that I do from 9-to-5, that’s what keeps me alive, but music is how I live. This is what makes me feel alive.
What are you most proud of to date?
I’m most proud of people knowing my music. Even if it’s just small amounts of people that have heard my songs multiple times and I see them singing along. At one show a couple weeks ago, someone said, “Hey I think I know you from Instagram and I love your song”. This is someone I’d never met before. It’s super cool that even without having anything streaming my music is still making its way outside of my immediate vicinity. It’s very cool to have done that just through social media.
Deciding to be an artist can have its ups and downs. What advice would you give to that young artist who is just learning to play guitar, or starting singing lessons and their dream is to be a musician?
The best advice that I’ve gotten when I was in college from my musical theater instructor. He started off in Miss Saigon as part of the chorus, which then led him to an audition to be part of the chorus in Phantom of the Opera. And he had all of these trepidations and doubts, but his director said “just fucking do it”. You never know what can come from just putting yourself out there. You want to sing? Just do it. You want to perform? Just do it, because you never know what is next after that, what that opportunity can lead you towards. Don’t expect things, but if you do it for the love of the game and continue to work hard, good things will come. He auditioned for just the chorus and was in the chorus and eventually made his way up to being the Phantom for three years.
Make sure to check our recorded live session on our account Clapper Sounds and in our reels on Instagram. Enjoy the Clapper Sounds live session of the week!