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Dean Lewis on finding the voice that saw him go on to create Waves

Weak at the knees, moved, lumps forming in the throat – this is the effect Dean Lewis can have on a gal, or indeed anyone. With an unabashedly honest perspective on life, it’s no surprise Lewis is slated as the next big thing in acoustic singer/songwriters.

Lewis’ debut EP Same Kind Of Different started in the cutting room as 100 songs of love, laughs and life before being whittled down to just six songs of heart wrenchingly moving songs.
 
Last year triple j had his first single Waves on rotation, alerting a nation to a bright new talent with a story that resonated with many. “I’m just trying to write things I like,” says Lewis, “I’m not trying to be cool, I’m just trying to focus on the kind of thing that gets me going.
 
 “All the songs have a very simple finger picking technique but I found an interesting version [of that]. Waves sounds unique though I’m playing it simply, I was gently playing in my room.”
 
Teen life had Lewis slumped in front of the TV, unaware of the voice he had within. “It was my younger brother [who said], ‘Oh this is terrible,’ I was singing a John Mayer song to my girlfriend on the phone.” Here Lewis gives a little rendition – so sweet.
 
“My brother and I shared a room and he said, ‘You’ve got a really good singing voice, you should sing.’ I didn’t take it seriously at the time but I found the sound – that low register –was sounding good. And funnily enough to this day my brother is my honesty – if I write a new a song he’ll tell me what he thinks of it, like reallytell me.”
 
It’s hard to put into words the feelings that stir when hearing Waves, but it isn’t surprising that Lewis has gained so many fans since its release, for the story behind it is one that at some point, we can all relate to. “I was in London a year and a half ago,” says Lewis.
 
 “Things were starting to happen behind the scenes, managers, record labels – this has been a thought that has come in my head a lot –when you’re a teenager and you go to the movies or a house party and the nerves and excitement and that little bit of anxiety that comes with not knowing what’s going to happen.
 
“But to be more direct about this song, in London things were starting to happen. I was there, starting to live my dream and I was like, ‘Why do I feel so normal, and a little bit numb to everything?’ This should be really exciting and I was thinking back to when I was a kid and how excited I was, there’s a line ‘I watch my wild youth disappear in front of my eyes and after that I sing is it ever coming back again?’For me that sums it up – the song is about trying to get that feeling back.And in a weird 360 kind of way, I was playing Groovin’ The Moo and there were 3,000 people singing back and that is so exciting, in the weirdest way that this song is about not feeling [good] about life.”
 
The EP title sings out a hint of indifference, which for Lewis isn’t necessarily the case now. “A lot of others come out and are like ‘I’m gonna come up with something new’ but for me, I’m not trying to be on trend, I’m just trying to write songs I like and I’m not trying to play some weird instrument or write anything weird, this is my way of doing what I want to do and stay true to that.”
 
Waves has a story and Lewis has tapped into something emotionally. He’s singing about life in such a natural way, it’s not surprising that people have heavy responses to his music. “I find it incredible,” Lewis says. “It’s all really new to me. Over the last six months I’ve had people messaging me telling me what this song means to them and I didn’t realise how many people it’s touched and resonated with. It’s blown me away.
 
“You write a song like this in your bedroom and you say – in my world anyway – the furthest this is going to go is my friends and my mum. You don’t expect it to be on a TV show, in America, on the radio and people all over the world are messaging you. It’s confronting in the best possible way but I love it.”
 
By Anna Rose

Dean Lewis’ Same Kind Of Different is due out Friday May 12 via Island Records.