19&YOU is a music group who formed under extraordinary circumstances, vying to make their mark on the indie pop game. With desires of creating an entire brand and world around their music, they’re trying to push the bounds of what is expected from a rising group. 19&YOU was formed under strange circumstances by a group with very different backgrounds and a very similar vision.
When producer and keyboardist Noah Taylor flew to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia to visit a girl in January of 2020 he stumbled into what would be the immediate future of his music career. The girl he wanted to visit was busy for much of his trip, and he wound up staying with friends and with two of his future bandmates: lead singer Cameron Graves and drummer Liam Wallis.
Noah had brought his mobile recording rig and even though the group hadn’t met before, he explained, “I got there and I was like, I’m gonna make this happen.” They stayed up until 3 and 4 AM writing music and soon, Noah’s childhood friend and guitarist Jackson Leitch joined the outfit. They made four songs over two weeks together. During that short stretch of time they put together what they exclusively shared would become their self-titled debut EP.
They filmed the visuals to their debut single “Runnin’” and they began working with management. Just as their career got a “jumpstart,” the pandemic hit and the group had to leave Australia (especially Liam and Wallis, who had been there to study abroad). They all moved to Los Angeles, California and began to live and work together.
The group shared that they produce everything themselves and have a studio in their home together, which adds to their creative capabilities. Noah shared, “If we want to record it…It’s a custom, cohesive, special thing.” Each of the members pointed out how special their production process makes their music and group in comparison to a lot of other music being released today.
19&YOU’s creative process and dynamic as a band is as young as they are, but they’re moving quickly. They all clearly have a great deal of passion and producer Noah is visibly itching to grow. Each member comes from a different background. Jack grew up on classic rock because of his family in South Carolina. Noah grew up traveling full time with his family in an RV and then backpacked. Cam was raised in church as a pastor’s kid on pop music in California. Liam developed his music through marching band, orchestra and church in Dallas, Texas. Their influences are similar, and make a great deal of sense when compared to their music: Boy In Space, Lauv, Troye Sivan and even Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts. Their main influence is The 1975, which is very present in their goals, visuals and music.
Despite their differing backgrounds, they come together to tell each others’ stories when making music. They explained that they don’t combine their experiences in their music, they focus on telling specifics. They said that big life events do usually occur at the same time for them, like breakups and moves. The name of the band, 19&YOU is even based on a transitional but important time in a person’s life. Being 19-years-old is being on the cusp of adulthood, and they want to discuss these important moments in their music.
Jack shared, “It’s a really good balance that we have, what we bring to the table.” They said they have “fun” and maintain a “good vibe.” Each member fits their role, as Cam usually handles performing the melody, then they build from that point as they craft the songs together.
Another big influence in their life and process is the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared that it’s difficult because their life experiences are currently limited, “It’s a lot of reminiscing to create music right now.” However, the pandemic allowed them to experiment while producing together and writing songs over Zoom. They said that it “changed the tone of our music,” as they want to allow their music to constantly be growing with them.
Within their last year as a group they said their music has already shifted a great deal. Noah shared that at the root of things “we love our music and we make what we love…We make honest music and tell honest stories.”
19&YOU’s music is “pop music made by live performers,” as they explained, so not having live music during the pandemic is particularly difficult for them. They have only had the chance to perform together for labels and managers over Zoom (though Liam and Cam have performed on stage together for church), and Cam laughed and said that he was sure it would be “amazing” once they got to all perform together for a crowd.
As a group who wants to not just be a band, but be a “brand/community” for fans, not being able to provide that way for listeners “to get involved in” or have that “world to step into,” as Noah said, their current situation is very challenging. Jack said that they want to be an “experience,” which further highlights their 1975 influences.
The neon lights in 19&YOU’s “BORED!” visualizer is even similar to the early music videos of The 1975, specifically “UGH!,” “Love Me” and “The Sound.” The image of the group performing, awash in bright pink, is strikingly similar to the early live shows of The 1975. 19&YOU’s music, however, is quite different. Cam’s vocals and the blends of different genres into a special pop sound that has all the marks of LANY’s early work, particularly their Makeout and Kinda albums. Even with these similarities, 19&YOU still has their own style, which is gaining greater definition with each drop.
The music videos and cover imagery have been designed by the guys’ friends. Noah shared that their “music informs the visuals and not the other way around.” Jack agreed, admitting that they’re “pretty picky.” The visual products for their brand reflect their tastes. Cam said, “We just do what we like,” but that the relationship between the music videos and the music itself is quite cohesive, saying it’s “equal.”
“BORED” begins with Liam’s rising guitar before Cam begins singing about subject of the song, “You like compliments, but if I try, I cross the line/And you like confidence, but if it’s mine, you don’t take kind…” His voice gains more strength before the chorus, where the guitar fades and Jack’s drum takes control.
Liam pointed out the unique and specific value of the instrumentals, particularly on “BORED!” The consistency of the beat and the semi-spoken word performance makes it sound like a relationship that is starting and stopping. Cam sings, “But last night, you hit me up again/You’re so predictable…Got your thirteen voicemails/Skipped the details/If I’m being honest, baby I think that you’re just,” there’s silence behind the vocals as Cam whispers, “bored.”
The frustrations continue in the next verses. Snapping begins as a shift occurs while Cam sings, “When you put on your makeup/You make up who you wanna be…And you fake loved me.” After the chorus repeats, the boundaries are set after a lot of back and forth, “…Are you just bored?/I’m sorry that you’re hurting to that point/But I’m done trying to save us while you keep score/Let’s not lead this on and disappoint ourselves.” The song concludes with an electric outro, continuing the background beats that have been heard throughout the majority of the track.
The group shared that “BORED!” was one of the first songs they made together that really pushed boundaries. It was made during their sessions and a product of them “having fun and finding their sound.” Cam’s breakup served as the catalyst for “BORED!”, though each of the members all laughed and insisted there are “no hard feelings.” They used their process of being hyperbolic in their songwriting, as it was made at a time when each member of the band was going through a serious breakup.
As the group continues to land on official playlists and score tens of thousands of new followers, they want to provide even more opportunities to immerse fans in the world of 19&YOU. Staying “BORED!” in the present is not an option with the energy that is clearly present when interacting with the group. 19&YOU is diving into the future and excited to explore what’s next for their group.
Fans can look forward to “videos to come,” tours once it’s safe, their self-titled EP and most importantly, “lots and lots of music.”
Feature image courtesy of 3V METHOD