Derik Fein’s latest single is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and it’s crazy romantic
Derik Fein is still figuring it all out. While he’s undoubtedly the passionate singing/songwriting superhuman so many of us dream about when we’re younger (and very much now still), he’s always been open and honest about the struggles he’s endured while getting to the point he’s at now in his musical career.
The singer wears his heart on his sleeve, and fans are never left second-guessing how he feels.
The recently engaged artist is now at the point in his career and life where he’s ready to look back at his journey, including his upbringing, and express how all of that’s made him who he is. His trajectory is perhaps not your typical one, which is what makes it all the more special.
We asked him about the key role love has played in his life, the ups and downs that come with being an independent musician and what he thinks makes an amazing partner.
Check out the exclusive interview, photos, and music video below!
How has your upbringing influenced your music?
Ever since I can remember, I used music as an escape from my childhood struggles.
There are some pivotal moments from my childhood that forced me to find a way to cope and communicate my frustration and sadness. I was bullied often and I remember the time when in the 7th grade I got jumped and listening to some of the greats from the 50s allowed to me feel like I was escaping the situations I was in. I’ve always been inspired by the “oldies” because I feel like music from that time was very genuine and raw.
I mean, there’s a reason why to this day we still know the names of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Elvis, Sinatra and Ray Charles to name a few. Those guys sang with hurt in their heart and that is how I approach my songwriting. It comes from a deep-rooted place of past memories.
What role have women played in your life? How has this shaped your view of love?
Sometimes, I feel as if I’ve only ever lived with women! Two of my sisters are lesbians so naturally I was surrounded by many women.
I was witness to all of the good moments and all of the arguments too but it showed me that women have a great capacity for love and forgiveness. My older sister Samantha has taught me a lot about love and has been there for me throughout all of my heartbreaks.
She and her wife Delilah have played a huge role in my life which is why I basically call them mom. They raised me and supported me through the worst of times. There was a time when I was almost homeless and they took me in and let me live on their couch for over five years.
They taught me many lesson – that it’s possible to fall in love more than once and that there are times when you think that you’re in love but in reality, you are in love with the idea of it. I also learned that heartbreak is a part of life and no relationship is perfect. Sometimes you need to get hurt really bad to know real love and to mature.
They also taught me that in life you will date awful people but those relationships will teach you so much that when you do meet ‘the one’ you can appreciate them and love them unconditionally. I actually gave up on love for a while until I met my fiancé, Vanessa. S
he made me realize what true love actually is. I was so young and naive that I thought I had found “the one” two times before her, but those were just the experiences I needed to go through to recognize when the right one found me.
What is “Vertigo” about? How do you want listeners to feel when they hear it?
The concept for “Vertigo” is serendipitous. You know that feeling you get when you first meet someone and you’re so happy? That honeymoon phase that you never want to end. That feeling you get in your stomach every time you look into each other’s eyes.
I wrote the song about my fiancé. It was so easy to write because that’s how she literally makes me feel. The title didn’t come until the very end when I was watching one of my favorite Hitchcock films, “Vertigo.” That dizzy but energetic feeling, the title clicked in my head and I said to myself that’s the word I was looking for to describe how this person made me feel.
I want listeners to fall in love again when they hear this song or remember why they fell in love to begin with. I want people to play it at their weddings. I want people to make babies to this song! I don’t make music just to make it I want people to feel but feel really hard.
What’s the most crucial lesson you’ve learned from past relationships?
That communication is the key fundamental to any relationship. Without it, there is no relationship.
Another important thing I learned is It’s okay to be alone for some time. There were so many red flags in my past relationships, but I ignored them because I was afraid of being alone. I got to learn so much about myself and devote 100% to my music and improving my life so that I can be in a better place. It also gave me clarity and allowed me to be happy with myself to then attract someone of the same caliber.
How do you use heartbreak to create art?
Unfortunately, some of my best songs come at my expense. The more I get hurt the better the material. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. I think one of the reasons It’s so easy for me is because I have terrible communication issues and It’s much easier for me to write it down instead of speaking about it. These days I’m writing happier songs because being depressed all the time is not fun.
How has it been working independently as an artist? What are some of the struggles and the benefits?
Being an independent artist is far from glamorous. Sure, it has its pros and cons but the journey is rough and there is no guide book.
I remember many nights sitting on the ground of Lincoln Road and singing as people would walk by and throw money in my guitar case every week until security would kick me out. I also drove Uber for a while on the side to earn enough cash just to pay for some studio time. I also remember taking a spontaneous trip to New York with $50 dollars in my bank account to handout my CDs to anyone walking out of the major labels and begging the cleaning crew or mailman to slip my CDs on label executives’ desks.
That day in NY was a very sad day for me. I’d been rejected by at least 40 people in one day and had the door slammed in my face when I tried to hand my cd to a famous artist which I won’t name in front of the offices of a major label.
I even tried sneaking into Atlantic Records. I was kindly escorted out (thank you security guard for being so nice about it!). That same night I finally got a call back. I remember my heart stopped when I saw Interscope Records on my caller ID. I thought that was it! I was about to sign a record deal.
It was Neil Jacobson’s assistant asking me wtf I wanted, and to please stop calling and leaving voicemails of me singing. I dropped my slice of pizza in the middle of Times Square and started crying.
There were many times that I wanted to give up. From shady managers and producers trying to steal my music to fake friends. I’ve seen it all over the span of my career. It’s been challenging because for a while, I had no guidance or protection. Now that I am savvier, I gut check any new contacts and am more cautious during meetings when people are constantly promising you things.
One of the benefits though is that I have full control over my sound/music. I can choose what I write and handpick producers I’d like to work with and I get to release records that I really believe in and tour as I please. Being independent has also allowed me to focus on partnerships that make sense for me.
I had the opportunity to collaborate with the Elvis estate and cover two iconic Elvis songs. One of the songs was taking a classic hit and making it into a lullaby to coincide with the ‘Love Me Tender’ children’s book.
What are you most excited about, currently?
I’m really excited about my upcoming album. This will be my first full-length studio album that I’m fully calling the shots on and get to contribute to every single aspect of the record making process. I’ve put so much energy and work into this and It’s taken over two years to write and It’s almost finished.
I’m also excited about my distribution deal with Kobalt/Awal music. They are the first big company to actually believe in me and are handling distribution of the album which is set for release towards the end of 2018.
Any advice for dudes/people on how to be more loving and nurturing partners?
Mental stimulation! Stop thinking with the wrong head.
Make it your business to have meaningful conversations. Women are very intelligent and can sense if you have bad intentions. Listen to her. Women are mental creatures and they communicate everything they feel to us.
I think if men (myself included) did a better job of listening and being a bit more sensitive to women’s needs we wouldn’t argue as much! What person likes to argue? No one. So listen and trust me you could avoid many long talks down the road!
I’m a sensitive guy and don’t see anything wrong with sympathizing with your lady’s emotions. I would also say, don’t take your past failed relationships out on her. Sometimes we have the tendency to “punish” her for mistakes other women made in past relationships. Most importantly: be consistent.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
This year I would like to see one of my songs climb up the charts and also do a cool collaboration. I would certainly love to be invited to an award show but more importantly I am hoping to book some awesome festivals so that I can get to meet my fans.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH DERIK’S “VERTIGO”