After quietly generating over two million streams independently and amassing a growing fanbase, listeners will get to meet Oklahoma born and Seattle raised 44phantom on the new EP die sometime, it’s good for u.
Adopting the moniker to honor his late second cousin and carry on the family’s serendipitous connection to the number 44, he first made waves with his 2019 single ‘Break Your Heart’ and dropped the EP Bittersweet that same year. In November 2020, he followed up with the release of his new single ‘All Figured Out’, a tune that explores unrequited love and infatuation with a soft vocal delivery and an icy guitar.
Penning his first song at eight years old, 44phantom has been influenced by artists such as Bob Dylan, Carrie Underwood, Kurt Cobain, and Drake. His musical style can be described as grunge-pop with an alternative sense of adventurousness and warmth. His upcoming release sees him wholeheartedly embracing deep storytelling and rock influences while detailing the journey from a small town to the doorstep of fame and trying to figure out the state of the world along the way. With the release of his new single ‘Sound Off’ and the new record, and charting an honest, authentic musical path that’s all his own, there’s a lot to discuss with the grunge-pop artist.
We chatted with 44phantom over the phone about his new EP, being authentic in his music, and the truths of coming from a small town.
Kurt Cobain and Drake count among the artists who have influenced your music. Are these artists you still look to for inspiration today?
100 percent. Kurt, his ability to be kind of– he has such a metaphorical way of saying shit but still putting it in your face, and then Drake is just like the hook king.
What inspired the title of your new EP die sometime, it’s good for u?
The common phrase, “you should run sometime,” or, “eat a vegetable sometime, it’s good for you.” Well, sometimes, it’s okay to want to fucking die. There are good things about being sad. You can take away a lot of lessons from that. The new project is pretty sad. It’s kind of just who I am. And so, what I would really say is it’s okay to die sometimes. It can be good for you. It’s okay not to want to exist for a while. I’m not encouraging— like, don’t go kill yourself. That’s not what I mean. It’s okay to completely want to retreat from the rest of the world and be your fucking sad, lonesome self and shit. That’s fine. So, again, it’s okay to have problems.
Congrats on your new single ‘Sound Off’. What do you want fans to take away from it?
Honestly, for lack of a better phrase, different strokes for different folks. Everyone’s going to have their own way of getting through what they have to get through. Honestly, if they take anything away from the song, I would almost rather they take away that it’s okay to have problems and be honest about it. A lot of people won’t talk about shit they’ve been through until they’re not at that point anymore. I’m still dealing with shit I hate every day. I still get high. I still smoke weed, so I’m not thinking about a bunch of shit I have going on at the time, whether it’s a girl, a business thing, or anything really. If anyone takes anything away from it, it’s that it’s okay to admit that you have problems. And even not being able to fix them at the moment, that’s completely okay. I wish people knew that more, I guess.
You’ve recently stated that this EP is one where fans will be able to truly meet 44phantom. Why wasn’t this something that you could say before the release of this EP?
I would say this is the first project where what I heard in my head came to life. So, people got to meet 44phantom sonically, and then for the first time, there are songs on there where I talk about my real thoughts. I’m a heartbreak boy, so, you know, everything has been about that shit, but the first few songs are about things that I’ve actually been through and who I actually am. On my newest record, ‘Sound Off’, I talk about getting high when I was 17 to get away from all of my problems that you’re kind of forced to deal with when you don’t have nobody but a few people. It’s showing people my world and my world view. Because that’s really what music is, and that’s what separates good music from bad music. There’s not necessarily bad music; make what you want. But I think that’s what separates real music from music that’s not as real, being able to put people in your shoes when you’re saying something. They can feel what you feel and what you felt when you wrote it. And so I would say that this is the first time that I thoroughly did it to the point I wanted to.
You come from a small town and illustrate the truth of the options that are available to residents through your music. What do you want others who may not have been exposed to small-town life to know about it?
That’s actually a really good question, probably my favorite I ever got in an interview. So I would say I kind of feel like a lot of my music comes from the point of view of being in that position. I don’t make party music because in a town of 1,000 people there’re no parties. And that’s just kind of how life is. For me, a lot of my music comes from a place of pain, for lack of a better term. You kind of don’t have a choice there. I had four friends go into the army because they couldn’t do anything else. And it’s kind of what it is there; there’s not a lot of opportunities for jobs, there’s not a lot of, really, anything. All you have to deal with are your problems and the people around you. That’s what my music ended up being about, I think, honestly, it’s not intentionally— I think it just made me realize that, holy shit.
As a follow-up, what would you want others to know about being on the doorstep of fame in a small town?
In the least corny possible way, you can do it. I know everyone is like, “you can achieve your dreams. You can be whoever you want to be.” You actually can do it. Especially with the internet now and in anything artistically, you have to be okay with putting yourself out there. That’s the scariest thing about coming from a small town, though. My high school graduating class— I moved before I graduated from that school, and in my small town, the graduating class was like 40 people. Literally, you go to the school talent show, and you sing in front of 60 people. It’s not that many people. So, nobody’s used to putting themselves out there and being judged on a larger scale. I wish people would be more okay with that because honestly, some of the realest people you’ll ever meet are in those small towns. They have no other option but to be themselves. There’s nobody to pretend for. I wish people would be more open with putting themselves out there. You’d see a lot more talented artists, especially.
One thought on “44 Phantom on his new single ‘Sound Off’ and new EP die sometime, it’s good for u, being honest in one’s music, and the realities of small-town living”
Hey, don’t know if you remember me. I’m your Daddy’s 1st cousin. Our Mama’s were sisters. Your music is awesome. Glad to see you doing well. I know your Dad is very proud of you. Take care Me. Mathews, I don’t know how to spell your first name. Love coming from Frederick, Oklahoma!