Photo Credit: Acacia Evans
Interview by Gwyneth Moe
Knox, known for his viral hit “Sneakers”, is heading out on his first headline U.S. tour this January. He’ll be performing a sold-out show in Cambridge at The Sinclair on February 2nd.
I was lucky enough to get to speak with the Nashville artist this past Friday.
So you’re starting your first headline U.S. tour in a few days, starting in Chicago. Do you have a city that you are particularly excited to perform in?
Um, definitely. I mean, like, it’s always cool to go to Ohio, cause I’m from there. So Columbus is always like a special one. But I’m the most excited for Atlanta. It’s the last show, and it’s the one that we sold the most tickets to. We did like 700 tickets. It’s way bigger than all the other shows. So I’m particularly excited about that one.
Wow. That’s yeah. That’s crazy. I feel like the videos I’ve seen from your shows are always very high energy. Personally, I love a high energy concert. Do you have a favorite song to play live? Is there just one that just like goes above the rest?
Yeah. I have a song called I’m So Good at Being Alone. Like the song, not the EP, but that song live. It’s so weird because the production of the song, like the actual track on Spotify, is very minimal. It’s like super pop song. There’s like nothing but hearing it live when there’s real drums, and then when the drop comes in and seeing the crowd like that, that one, it just hits different for me.
And that’s off of your recent EP that came out in October. Was that when you were on tour with Nightly, did you get to perform some of those then or are there going to be a lot of new songs played in this upcoming tour?
Yeah so this tour we’re gonna be doing some new stuff that’s not out. And on the Nightly tour, it was actually really cool we planned it out to where night one of the Nightly tour was the only night that the EP wasn’t out. And then that night, cause the first night was on a Thursday, the whole EP came out. So on the rest of that tour, the songs were brand new. They had just come out, so we were able to play them every single night. And so it was cool that first night because I think four songs just came out at once or something like that. And so that first night we were in Austin, Texas and it was cool because I was like, hey I’m gonna play a bunch of songs that come out tonight, at midnight, and it was sick it was really cool. But this tour we’re gonna be doing two new songs that nobody’s heard.
In 2022, you released your song ‘Sneakers’, which was massive on TikTok, and then shortly after that you immediately went on tour with The Band Camino. What was it like going from zero to sixty in terms of live shows?
I mean dude it was really like, I kind of just literally got thrown into it. It was like one day I had a hundred TikTok followers and then I posted “Sneakers” and three weeks later I was opening for Camino at Georgia Theater for the first show. I remember being like, I didn’t want to go out there right. I was like oh my gosh. Like I’d played in front of people before like in a way.
I’d done acoustic shows here in Nashville as a songwriter and things like that, but that was like taking it up a level and it’s, the whole time you’re like, oh I’m scared. I don’t want to go out there. And then you have thirty seconds before you have to go and then you’re like, oh no, I don’t have a choice. You just have to go do it, you know? But it went well and it was so much fun, but it was so cool dude. I feel like I got really lucky, especially being somebody who started on TikTok.
I know so many people, even friends of mine, that have had really cool TikTok moments but it’s hard to keep that momentum online. Whereas, in my position, I was lucky enough, and like shout out to The Band Camino guys I will forever be in debt to them for this, but basically, I went viral on TikTok. And then immediately was put in front of real people and real fans like thousands of real people. I feel like that really changed the game for me in terms of building an actual fan base that is kind of like diehard, you know what I mean?
Yeah, TikTok can be very fickle with what it likes to keep. Speaking of TikTok, and just in general, another very popular song of yours right now is “Not The 1975”. Aside from the title, there are obviously a few 1975 references in there. Did you have any other references you had during the writing process that didn’t make the final cut?
I don’t think so. I feel like everything that we did was like
The only one, I’m not even gonna lie I’ll just be completely candid I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this, but I get so many comments that people will be like, do you know how the chorus starts with “she said I like your confidence”? Everyone thinks that that is like a hint to their song “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”.
Everyone will comment on that and they’ll be like, that’s so genius. That is one that we totally did not plan. I mean, to be honest there were a couple of them there that just kind of happened by accident, like that one was just like, oh I guess that is a reference to them, isn’t it? So that’s pretty cool.
And then, even the “lookin for somebody” part. We just kind of said that line and then we were like “oh wait like they have a song called that” and then we were like, okay that is a cool reference.
We had a couple of different versions of the song where the line was like, “it’s funny I don’t see her with nobody tonight” there were a couple different variations of it. When we realized that the “lookin for somebody” was the title we were like, oh, dude that’s really cool.
Yeah, I did not catch the “lookin for somebody” on the first listen. I think I was looking on Genius and was like, oh, there’s another one in here.
And then you’ve mentioned that one of your favorite things about The 1975 is how good they are at capturing feeling in their music and you said you like to try to do that as well. How does that impact your creative process?
Dude, it’s hard. That is a strangely very hard thing to do. I feel like there are a lot of songs that I still haven’t even done that with. I try my best, but I feel like I always try to be such a heady writer.
You know with like “Sneakers” and the double play on sneakers and “Love Letters” and how it’s love letter but love let her down. I always feel like I’m always very lyric-centric, but I think bands like that, that can say so little but make you feel so much, is such an insanely powerful thing.
I don’t even think, for me personally, I don’t even know if I’ve captured that yet. I’m trying to, but it’s hard. It turns out it is not easy to do that, and so we have a couple songs coming out that I think, I hope, do that but we’ll see. It’s hard, and I am still learning every day how to capture those kinds of emotions.
On your recent EP, you did have a couple of collaborations, one with Charlotte Sands and the other with Nightly. Do you have any artist or group that would be a dream to collaborate with?
So, I have two. One of them, this is weird, and I don’t know if anybody else can even put this together other than me, but Lil Nas X has some songs that I think, we could’ve done that song together.
Have you ever heard his song, Lost in the Citadel?
I don’t believe I have
You should definitely check it out. It’s just so good. I feel like the songs that he writes that are pure pop songs like that and That’s What I Want, I feel like I would’ve written those songs in that way.
So, he’s one that I would love to work with. I think that would be so cool. I really do think that he is just so musically talented. I feel like everybody is always too busy talking about all the other things that go on with him and all the other media stuff that he does, which is still awesome and hilarious, but I do think that people don’t really understand how talented of a musician he is.
And the other one’s just Ed Sheeran, like how cool would it be? Like, we have red hair. It’d be sick.
Those would be such cool collaborations. Especially Lil Nas X, you have a genre overlap, but there’s also a lot of variation, so that would be cool to see.
And then, this is kind of random, but you’ve talked before about the impact the High School Musical and Camp Rock movies have had on your life. If you had to pick one song from them as your ‘walk-up song’, every time you get up on the stage this song would be playing. What song would it be?
Absolutely, no question, “Play My Music”. I feel like that’s the kind of music that I make. It’s funny I never even realized how much that music had an impact on me until recently. I’ve been listening to my own songs, like man, this kind of sounds like a Joe Bros song. I went and saw them live a couple of weeks ago and it was just incredible.
I always say, that when I was in middle school, or going into middle school, all my friends listened to Drake and Lil’ Wayne. I loved that stuff, like absolutely, but are we not going to discuss Nick Jonas? I just always thought it was sick. I thought it was super cool.
You describe your approach to music as having a singer-songwriter approach and adding electric guitar and that pop-rock feel. Did you have any songs that, when you writing them, took a drastic creative shift? Did you have any song that started as maybe a ballad and turned into upbeat rock or vice versa?
The one that sticks out the most to me, I have a song on my EP How To Lose a Girl in 7 Songs called “NYC”. I have a demo on my phone that’s like piano, acoustic guitar, and that’s it. It’s just that and it’s this really really singer-songwritery type thing. And then, I remember when we were recording it, we were gonna do it in that way. We were going to do acoustic guitars, piano and me and my producer Cam, and we sat there for two hours and it was the only song we had been working on that we weren’t thrilled about.
There was just no excitement during it and I’ll never forget after like 3 hours of sitting there, its like 9pm. I was like Cam, this just ain’t it dude. I was like, we need to make this a rock song. And he turned around and was like I didn’t want to say it dude, I’m so glad. We literally just scrapped everything, and I started playing the electric guitar on it, just like that spacey guitar.
We didn’t really know where it was going to end, but once we built around those guitars we just kept going and going. The further we took it the more sense it made. By the end of that song, it ended up being a full-blown rock song so that was sick.
I think this is the last question. Since you are heading out on tour, do you have a dream venue that you’d love to play in the future?
I feel like the typical answer, which I still feel, is Red Rocks in Colorado. Everybody wants to play Red Rocks. That would be amazing. That’s definitely up there, but there are certain ones that really stick out. There’s one in London, the London O, not the O2 Arena, but the Academy.
That’s like one that, I remember watching the videos of Ed Sheeran playing that back in 2013. I was watching those YouTube videos and those were videos that made me want to play music in the first place, so to be able to go and do that venue overseas in another country would just be incredible.
And then, obviously living in Nashville, the Ryman would be so cool. Just cause I’ve been in Nashville for six years and Nashville’s definitely home now. To be able to play, what I would think is probably the most iconic venue in Nashville, that would be pretty sick.
This interview has been edited for clarity.