‘Learning to Love,’ by Covex is a story of change, acceptance, self-reflection, and of course, love. A journey through life spoken through sound. I had the pleasure of speaking with Brendan (Covex) about the inspiration behind this amazing piece of him, and how it came to fruition.
Hayden McGuigan, Electric Hawk: So tell us a little about yourself! Whats your name? Where are you from? What made you decide to start pursuing music? And what are some of your biggest influences in the industry?
Covex: My name is Brendan Bell, I’m from Colorado, and I’ve been around music my whole life. Both of my parents were heavily involved in music. My mom was in a band and she’s been singing for 30+ years. My dad was in choir and did theatre. As for myself, I remember I got a toy piano at like, 3 years old and that was the start of my musical journey. I started taking lessons at age 7, started playing the trumpet at age 10, and even beatboxed for 3-4 years. Around 13, my sister introduced me to bass music and I’ll never forget it. We were driving around in her car and I just remember feeling that big subwoofer rattling through my body and I was just like, “Woah…this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
After that, I started falling down the Youtube rabbit hole. I watched a lot of Ultra videos and I was just so amazed by the energy of the community. Everyone seemed like they were best friends when they were there–vibing to the music, dancing, connecting, and smiling. Everyone seemed so happy, and I think that was that moment for me. As for influences, I love The 1975, Mura Masa, Whethan, Odesza, and HONNE. Their most recent project, ‘no song without you’ is this incredible ballad album everyone should check out if they haven’t heard it yet.
HM: I’ll have to check it out! Well, first of all, this EP is beautiful. After listening and watching the music video for “I Won’t Leave,” I could tell that 2019 was a very influential year for you. What made you decide to translate this experience into sound?
Covex: So in January of 2019, I broke up with my girlfriend of two and a half years. It launched me into this introspective, reflection phase about this failed relationship. Eventually, I realized I didn’t know what love is. It was hard to grasp, but it essentially sent me on a journey to find what love
actually meant to me. In April that same year, I was leaving school and decided “I need to write an EP about these feelings.” After meeting someone new and living life with them, I realized I was ‘learning to love,’ hence the title of the EP. So I went home to start writing out concepts and mapping out content.
HM: The first track and first single released from the EP, “I Won’t Run Away,” is a deep melodic piece with incredible vocals. Tell me about Lexi Shanely, and how this collaboration came to be.
Covex: I met Lexi through a friend of mine, Baaku. I wanted a female vocalist for the second verse, so I sent her the track with verse two completely empty. And I swear maybe, the next day? She sent me a full demo! A few days later she came over to my home studio and recorded the verse. It was a very easy process. Our visions aligned perfectly.
HM: The next track, “Can’t Make U Change,” is a deep, ethereal piece with no vocals at all. What made you decide to go that route?
Covex: Initially, I tried to incorporate vocals actually! 92 Attika tried singing on it, and even I personally tried singing the vocals, but it just didn’t fit. My mind was set to lay out each track so they would roll into each other. So I decided not to force it and leave it as is to kind of give that emotional fluidity that comes with change.
HM: “Jealous” is a bit of a darker turn for the EP with jaw-dropping vocals, and more aggressive basslines. What does jealousy mean to you?
Covex: Well, firstly, Dafna is amazing. She’s gonna blow up man. Jealousy came to be from some diary entries about my past relationship. I wrote around two pages in there about how jealousy made me feel. I think in a sense, jealousy can be a good thing career-wise. It can push you to go harder and put in the work necessary to achieve your goals. But I feel like oftentimes, people see other relationships and the happiness it brings them and get envious. So this track was a direct reflection of that.
HM: “Foolish” was the second single released from the EP, and one of my personal favorites. I loved the four on the floor elements you incorporated.
Covex: Foolish was meant to be the “happy banger” of the EP. It represents the pure happiness and bliss I was experiencing with this newfound love. I was literally, foolish about her and overjoyed with love. With this track, I wanted to incorporate a post-rock/EDM fusion so I added a distorted, grungy, guitar to give that future-bass feel. I listened to a lot of psytrance for inspiration so the four-on-the-floor style felt right. This was one of the first songs I wrote after meeting the girl that inspired the second half of the EP.
HM: I can tell she played a big role in this project. The last track, “I Won’t Leave,” uses a sample from the great Alan Watts that describes love in a way that only he can. I got the sense that you fell in love last year. Not only with your music, but with yourself. Does that seem accurate?
Covex: Well, I don’t know about myself so much. That’s such a long process for everyone I think, and I’m still working on that. I definitely fell in love with my music in 2019! I feel like I truly found my sound last year. But this track, and the EP as a whole, is primarily about falling in love with my person. With her, I noticed similarities that I didn’t think was possible. And the more I learned about her, the more I fell. I was spiraling–even staying up for 2-3 days straight consumed with these new emotions I hadn’t felt before. I felt crazy, and it’s hard to explain. But I think love in itself is pretty indescribable.
HM: So, what’s next for Covex?
Covex: Well firstly, a lot of music. I’m sitting on around 40 unreleased WIPs so I’ll be working on fine-tuning and finding the best place for them. My team and I have been working on a lot of under wraps stuff, including a really big experience that we’ve been working on for the last two months. But mostly, I want to take this time to do more introspective work during quarantine. I often ask myself, “How can I take what I love about music, and expand on it?” Before, I felt like I was making music to play at shows. But now, with no shows in the foreseeable future, I want to dissect why I make music in the first place.
Listen to ‘Learning to Love’ by Covex below, out now on Black Swan International:
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