By the powers vested in me, I officially declare this to be Wynter Week in Australia.
Our favourite debutantess of dance Wynter Gordon is currently in the country to launch her album With The Music I Die – a flawless collection of fun, youthful and spirited cuts including the almost-four times platinum smash ‘Dirty Talk’ and current hit ‘Til Death’.
I reckon I’d have to be the luckiest Wynter Warrior in Australia to not only score an invite to her SameSame acoustic showcase in Sydney, where she gave me a lovely shoutout, but to also chill on the couch and chat with this rising superstar about her eagerly anticipated album.
It has been a bonkers week of promo where she’s checked off several commercial radio stations, major print media and magazines. On top of that, Wynter also did her first ever Australian TV performance on Dancing With The Stars (watch) and filmed a guest spot on our Aussie X Factor.
Here my gurl Wynter walks me through her favourites on With The Music I Die and explains her definition of dance music. The American singer/songwriter also opens up about how heartbreak inspired her and reveals plans to add more music to this collection.
Congratulations, the album – With The Music I Die – is finally out!
I know! It’s nerve-wracking.
Where were you on Friday when it appeared in stores? Did you wake up and have a moment?
No, I was running around getting ready for Dancing With The Stars and my acoustic show. I was just knee-deep in album [promo] stuff. The moment I woke up it was like, “Wynter get up! You’ve got stuff to do!” I don’t think artists really take in these moments ’cause it would be too scary to actually absorb it. So frightening! You’re laying your life out on the line, you’re laying your soul, and everyone is judging you.
Fans that have been following you long before ‘Dirty Talk’ would be looking at this album as the definitive material. Y’know, this is what Wynter wants us to hear. Was there any pressure in selecting the songs?
There’s definitely pressure because I had so many songs that I wanted to put on the album that I couldn’t. Definitely thinking, did I make the right choice? Were these in the right order?
Who decided that the album should have ten tracks? Why was that the right cut?
I don’t make those decisions. I do the music, I go in the booth and this is just not in my power. I would definitely put more on. I am really happy with the music and I think all [ten songs] are great. They are songs people can sing back and really feel. But at the same time, being an artist, you always want to give more music!
You’ve played at dance music festivals on your last few trips to Australia but this time around, it’s mainly acoustic performances. Is it a little more intimidating to do acoustic?
No, that’s what I love to do. I love the intimate [setting], I love being able to show my personality, to see people’s faces and talk to them. It’s what I prefer, actually. I was so excited for the [SameSame showcase] even though my throat was a little sore. I was so excited, I just wanted to get there!
It’s interesting because with dance music, it renders itself to these big festivals and production but it was so lovely to see you strip it back with your uptempo singles like ‘Dirty Talk’ and ‘Til Death’.
That is the beauty in this album. I wanted the songs to sound like songs. If you stripped them back, I wanted you to be able to feel the lyrics and to understand it. I didn’t want it to just be a big party. I think that a lot of people when they hear “dance music”, that’s where they get confused. I fell in love with dance music when I heard MGMT and Empire of The Sun, and I think their music can be stripped back. There’s something really beautiful about it and it’s not just four on the floor hurrah-hurrah.
With The Music I Die is such a varied album, not just sonically but lyrically as well. There are fun tracks, flirtier songs and then there are the personal heartfelt ones.
Like ‘Back to You’! It’s very personal and very heartfelt.
That song! The first time I actually had a moment with it alone in my car, I just broke down in tears. It really spoke to me.
Really? I think everyone feels lonely at times. There’s that one person that either left you, or you don’t want to break up with them but they break up with you. Everybody’s got that moment.
Does he know about this song?
Oh, he knows. He really supports me. He’s an ex and although we’re not friends any more, I think he’s got a lot of respect for me. And I hope this song is a single and I make lots of money off it so I wave it in his face! I think Adele did the same thing when she talked about the album being about her ex-boyfriend and he’s trying to sue her now! So crazy.
Yeah, your personal songs like ‘Back to You’ and ‘Still Getting Younger’ are my favourites.
That one brought my love back to keep pursuing a music career because [at one stage] I didn’t really want to. After writing ‘Still Getting Younger’, I felt like there was still hope.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned that you’ve been signed for five years and I mean, the debut album is only arriving now. What has been the hardest part of the journey thus far?
I spent the last two years working on the album that has just come out. [Before that] it was just sorting through my head because I’m a writer; I write country music, R&B, pop… I can do anything! So it was really sorting it and putting it in a category. I want my fans and people who have never heard of me to connect with me so, I didn’t want to give them too much to figure out, “well who is she? What kind of music does she do?” I wanna give them just one taste of one lane to grasp on and then when they do that, I’ll give them something different later.
So like a country album for number two, maybe?
*pause* Maybe number three! *laughs* ‘Cause I love country music. Love, love, love! My next album, I say will be a mash between Phil Collins, Kate Bush and Madonna like all rolled into one with dance and pop. It’s gonna be crazy!
Every track on With The Music I Die has its own identity. You’ve worked with so many different people to create this project – who was your favourite to jam with?
Everybody brought something different. Nick Littlemore [co-writer/producer of 'Still Getting Younger'] – I love him. He was a soul toucher. The Nervo twins [writers behind 'Drunk on Your Love'] – they just brought laughs! The bickering between them, it’s funny! Kevin McCall [feature artist/co-writer on 'Rumba'] – he is not Latino. He’s black. So for him to sing in Spanish on the song, I thought it was funny. I’ve been working with him for a long time and he’s just a great writer and singer! And Colleen!
I have to say, that was a big surprise for me! Writing with Vitamin C? Were you a fan?
I love Vitamin C, yeah! She’s really cool and very talented. We have worked on a lot of songs together.
What are your favourite songs on the album? We’ve talked about ‘Still Getting Younger’ and ‘Back to You’ being the personal ones.
‘Drunk on Your Love’ – it kinda gives me that 90s young feeling! For me, it reminds me of summer in New York, Coney Island. It just sounds young. Y’know, when youth used to have a sound? This album just sounds like youth to me. ‘Rumba’ – I feel like I wanted to give something softer. I love Middle Eastern music so I just wanted to try something different!
Those are the more fun, flirtier tracks. As a writer, is it easier to write them or the more personal songs?
The personal stuff comes immediately. I can write them in like 10 minutes because it’s honest. The funner songs are actually the harder ones.
Really? I find it strange because when I write personal songs, it always feels like therapy. I think it can be a little confronting when you’re poring over, ‘oh is this how I really feel about the situation?’
It’s good to be really honest with yourself. I would never be able to say to someone, you hurt me but I still miss you. But I find it peaceful to confront yourself like that. You know, to actually admit that these are the thoughts you are thinking about somebody who doesn’t want you.
It’s a hard feeling to digest and I think it’s even harder to say it to the person so, music is definitely a way to put it out there.
So what’s gonna happen to all the songs that didn’t make the album like ‘Surrender’?
‘Surrender’! Oh my god! That song is iconic and classic!
Why didn’t that make the cut? Sounds like you really love it.
I do love it. But that song is just really… expensive. You have to buy the tracks. The song has been written and recorded over a year ago but at the end of the day, it was with a really great producer who has done a lot of stuff. Sometimes they, y’know, charge a lot for the tracks.
I had no idea that that’s how it worked. I know you’ve worked with a number of “underground” or upcoming producers for the album but was cost a factor?
It was never a factor in my mind! When I go into a songwriting session I never think of the cost. But I think ‘Surrender’ will see the light of day and it will come out. It’s just a matter of when.
We’re very lucky in Australia to be the first to have the album but over in the US, you’re releasing an EP instead.
The EP has some songs from the album but I’m still building my fan base in the US. They’ll also be getting the album but there’ll be some different songs on it. I think that when we do that, we’ll also be re-releasing the album in Australia so they have the same amount of songs as the US one.
I hear you’ll also be doing some pride events when you get back to America.
Yes, I’m hosting pride in San Francisco and New York! It’s right at home! I’m at Splash [the premiere gay club in New York] every week. I am always there and have sold out shows all the time. I personally know a lot of people there.
Is that what you like to do when you’re home in New York?
Yeah, I mean I’m not a clubber. My friends know that if they wanna hang out, they can come watch movies in my room with their shoes off. But when we do a club night, we do it big ’cause I like to have fun. I’m always at clubs for work so for me a good time is friends coming over for food and watching movies, just really kicking back. I invite like 20 friends over at a time so it’s always a packed house. Everybody gets in my bed!
The six-track EP will be released in the US on 28 June.