Denis Coleman is Healing the Process and we are along for the journey. Currently sitting at 78.2K followers on Instagram and reaching over 257K streams on his release Halogen Nights on Spotify, it is clear to see a popular artist on the rise. However, to top this, Denis Coleman also announced in February that he would be joining Little Mix on their ‘The Confetti Tour’ which is a huge achievement. This will be followed by his very own headline tour, journeying across the UK.
Denis Coleman is an artist who has evoked elements of different genres, but whose sound is generally centred within pop is bringing a more rocker vibe to his latest musical instalment with a steady electric guitar accompaniment. Whilst previous releases such as Make Friends reflect a more regular pop-infused track setup, Healing the Process continues a style of music introduced in Pillow Thoughts. Stating Healing the Process is “a shedding of his pop prince flesh into a darker, grungier skin”.
Denis Coleman has a good singing voice that complements different styles of music successfully, so it is interesting to see how it merges with this new track where the background mixing is heavier and takes more focus from the listener. However, this grungier element clearly demonstrates Coleman’s transition to experiment with a new sound, letting the music aid him in addressing teenage frustrations and pressures.
The music video that is released with Healing the Process has a therapist set up where Denis acts as both the therapist carrying words of wisdom and the client interjecting candid comments in reaction. This is a unique interjection to show the first verse as more of a conversation which is something a listener might not consider without the video. The chorus reminds me of older music videos with a band featured in an empty space, a stark white wall behind them that has been greyed through the lens, a gradient of shadows decorating the wall behind the artists, painting the angst and emotions of the song.
We were lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Denis about his upcoming plans and exciting tours in the year ahead.
Thank you for meeting with us today, how are you?
I’m great thank you. I’m doing very well this morning. Beautiful morning so far.
To start at the beginning, how did your journey toward music begin?
So, my journey began firstly through classical music. I actually started playing the violin when I was six. Very quickly I started to realise that I never wanted to play the typical music that they would give us. I tried to come up with my own ideas. I found some version of something called FL Studio online, which is how people make beats. I started to make beats. I started to write songs and pretty quickly I realised that is what I wanted to be doing, was writing music, writing my own songs.
Then, when I was about fourteen years old, I did a competition which led to me having quite a few different opportunities arising from that including supporting a band called The Vamps on tour which led to a lot more touring, and from there, it has kind of just spiralled, more has happened. I feel like I’ve learnt so much as a writer and as an artist and started to find where I feel at home and where I sit within that whole world
If you could describe your music career as it is now in three words, which words would you choose?
Optimistic. Home. Curious.
How has the pandemic affected your journey as an artist?
It has affected it in very many numerous ways. Primarily there was that logistical effect that everyone was impacted by of live music shutting down and in-person collaboration shutting down. But I think it has affected me most impactfully in the things that I write about and the things I find interesting and relevant. There were so many little battles and challenges that we had to overcome and grapple with during the pandemic that to me, really took the forefront of my music.
For example, my most recent song is essentially about being addicted to dopamine from social media which is something that I’ve really noticed in the pandemic. I think we’ve always had that influence from social media in our lives but that was a time when it was really one of the only forms of socialisation and validation and anything really that people were getting in our lives, that I was getting in my life. I think there are all these little changes to the way we see the world, see our friends, we see life in general that has become much more important to me and more relevant in my writing.
What is your process for making and producing music? Do you start in the studio, pen on paper?
I generally think that I do it in quite a structured way. So, when I write a song I go to a session usually, I’ll go to a studio with a producer, someone I know and we will start collaboratively start to create a song from scratch. I usually try to, actually to be honest every single time I write a song just that day in the room, record the demo, and just have it as an option, for posterity to go back and check it with the other things I’ve been recording.
But one thing I do find is that even though I often ‘spontaneously’ come up with the ideas in the session usually they are things that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while that has been sort of whistling around my brain somewhere in the background for the last couple weeks.
I think that it is kind of a combination of that quick sudden process of like ‘let’s create a song right now’ and that slow burn over time of coming up with concepts, ideas, and emotions.
So, you have had some very exciting announcements for 2022, including joining Little Mix on their Confetti Tour, how are you feeling about the opportunity and how did it come about?
I’m so excited about that opportunity. I think that’s really the perfect word to describe it. Obviously, an incredible band, incredible show as well. I’ve been lucky enough to see their show a few times, at the Brits once as well which was amazing. To be able to be a little part of that show and craft my own segment of it is just a huge honour and beyond exciting.
How it came about was essentially, my manager used to work with a lot of the people that look after Little Mix and so he was able to play them my stuff and show them what I was about as an artist, what I was trying to accomplish in my live set. Then it was a couple of months of trying to win them over and then eventually they were like ‘yeah, let’s do it’.
What is your favourite Little Mix song that you are looking forward to hearing?
That is a good question. I was doing this the other day – I went through their playlist on Spotify of all their greatest hits and I was like ‘know this song – banger’, went through like twenty-five different songs and every single one was a great song, so it is hard to choose. I do like their one, No More Sad Songs, is a very nice tune and I think MJK was on the track as well. But honestly, they have so many incredible songs.
Could a potential collaboration be in the works?
Probably wishful thinking. I’m here all day for it. Little Mix if you want to pop on the track and do your thing, absolutely you are welcome to do that, it would be incredible.
You’ve also announced you will be completing your own headline tour, is there a specific place on the tour that you are most eager to visit along the journey?
Yeah, I think. It’s not even so much a visit. But, the London show is the one I’m most excited about. Despite sounding very American, I am a Londoner at heart, and I’ve lived here for many, many years and so it’s always a really special moment to play my home town, play London. I’ve got to have all my friends there, my family members, everyone who has supported me over the years, and of course, all the fans. I think for me, to be able to play my own show, in London is going to be a big moment.
I imagine your new single, Healing The Process will be most definitely featured in your upcoming tours. However, there is a distinct shift for this single that differs from your other music, that you were going somewhere you hadn’t necessarily gone before. What was the process for this single? Did it differ from your previous processes?
This one was a strange case of a lot of different ideas coming together for Healing the Process I had a few concepts in mind before I did the session. Including the first verse actually which was about trying to find validation and comfort in someone else’s eyes rather than having a bit more of a centred approach. I went down to Christchurch to write with these two incredible producers. We basically just started cooking up the idea there at that moment. Someone started playing that initial guitar riff that starts the song and immediately I was like ‘I have just the idea that sits perfectly with this sound, this atmosphere that I can feel in the track. Then it just went from there, it was a really organic process. The words just kept tumbling out and I probably wrote the song in the space of maybe two or three hours, then we finished up producing it over the next few weeks and months and now it is coming out.
The music video is an intriguing reflection of the song, what was the inspiration for this?
That one took a bit of time for me to come up with the right way to tell the story of the song but eventually, I ended up coming up with this surreal scene where there is a therapist and a patient and I’m obviously playing both the therapist and the patient. Then there’s this third character performing and singing that is taking elements of the patient in terms of the atmosphere. But it’s basically, just wanted to try and find a way to capture all these different inner voices and inner forces that we all have that all sort of fight to gain control of your mental health essentially.
Because the song is all about healing the process. It is a process. We need to heal the healing process but it is by no means healed yet so I wanted to capture that uncertainty in the video because it is not like there is an answer and something you can solve immediately, it’s something you have to experiment with and try. So, there is a bit of ambiguousness in the video between, is the therapist helping his patient and listening or is he trying to hypnotize him with this strange subliminal message video, there is a lot of uncertainty there and that is fully intentional around the meaning behind the songs.
Where do you see your music in the coming years? With this shift with Healing the Process will it continue?
Yeah definitely, will continue. I think that there are a lot of influences that are drawn, both from the past, obviously, there is that initial rock influence, a bit of grunginess, a bit of punk. But, for me, it is always going to be about trying to make music that feels fresh and exciting. Taking elements of indie, and hyper-pop in some places in terms of drums that I choose and letting guitars lead the way. That’s something I’ve worked on a lot in the past year is strengthening my guitar skills which previously were non-existent. I’m getting there but it is such a wonderful instrument, and it lends a great atmosphere to the track. So, it is really seeing where that leads.
Are we going to have a violin piece at some point?
Maybe. Probably not, maybe though, it’s not impossible. To be fair, I actually did play violin on one of my tracks. It was a very minor part, but we wanted some backing strings, and I was like, I can do this.
Last, but not least, what is your main advice for up-and-coming music artists in the first stage of their career?
I will say this thing that I say a lot and I really like it. The music industry is the music industry. It is an industry, and it is a business. There are a lot of things around music that are quite important in terms of getting your music heard by the right people, putting it on the right platforms, on SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube, and social media. Playing that whole game which is very important as an artist.
That being said, the music has to come first. At the end of the day, the key thing to any successful musician is having music that is really powerful, speaks to people, is really unique, and fresh. So, I think putting in the time to practice and experiment and create is so vital when it comes to it.