Posted On 26 Sep 2017
California alt-rock/trap project Leave the Universe recently returned from nine months in London, where they were writing and creating their debut EP N.W.O.. With clear influences in the U.K.’s historical punk rock scene, Leave The Universe seamlessly blends alternative rock, post-punk, and electronic music while exploring themes such as politics, insanity, and love on their debut EP, N.W.O., which was released on September 1st.
Singer Cameron Cole explains: “That day I saw the perfect example of a system where the general population was like pieces being moved in an elaborate game by the powers that be for the benefit of a select few. I don’t think that people realize how much power they truly have in the fact that the game masters need the the people in order to thrive. People are kept in check by a fabricated system of money. This song is meant to be a reminder that we as the people do have the power to change a flawed system if we can stand together, instead of against each other, and recognize the true enemy. We have to power to create a new world.”
Best described as alt rock/trap, Leave The Universe seamlessly mixes an alternative/emo band sound with the underlying production of hip-hop/trap. Lead singer Cameron Cole and guitarist Kalin Pugh spent a year building a strong core following in their home of San Diego before moving to London and forming the Dead 30 Artist collective with Austin Arthur and the rest of the members of The L.I.F.T. While in London, LTU completed their first studio EP titled N.W.O. The band explores themes of breaking barriers in subjects such as politics, isolation, mental insanity and love, from a very aggressive and external point of view.
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Learn more about Leave The Universe in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find the band? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
We’re sitting in our studio right now and there is no music playing. Sometimes it’s nice to have some silence.
What are some words you would use to describe 2017? How differently did you all approach this year? What have been some highlights of the year?
I would have to say “Life changing”, “Scary”, and “Exciting” This year started for us in London, which is something we would have never dreamed the year before. It was really eye opening to see how much life could change in 1 year and how much hard work really does pay off even if it doesn’t seam like it in the time. I guess this year the attitude is to work harder than ever and always be open to new people and ideas, and I’m sure at this time next year we’ll all look back at an even bigger change. The best part of the year for me was definitely recording the N.W.O. ep in London. It was so cool to be able to be in our own studio in such a cool place recording music. You can’t ask for much more than that.
We’ve grown so much and started so many exciting new things it’s hard to wrap my head around it sometimes. It’s kind of chaos really, but navigating it has been so rewarding. We’ve really tried to reach out and think of progress. We’ve been working extremely hard on producing content and really connecting to our fans, and the response has been overwhelming and humbling.
This year I had a more positive approach and outlook on life. 2016 was difficult so I wanted 2017 to be as positive as possible. I did my best to always look for something good in all situations and only speak and put out thoughts that would be positive for myself and others.
Joining a group of people that are equally as driven to make something of themselves through music as I am is definitely a highlight for this year.
Looking back on how you all decided to form this band, what do you think first made you all think you could do this and make music together?
Kalin and I decided to start playing music together when we were really young. Back then we had no idea of how difficult it would be to follow through with this dream, but we decided that no matter what we would stick with it and make sure we succeeded. When forming Leave The Universe it was already clear that we wanted to make it way more than just about us. We wanted to create a symbol for breaking limits and a place where people could truly be who they wanted to be. That idea has only grew stronger with the formation of the Dead 30 Collective between LTU and L.I.F.T, and even stronger when fans started to become part of the family as well. We truly have a place that we can call our own now in the world, and nothing could every take that way from us.
Cam and I have been working in music for a while now. I think after the 5 year mark I really felt we made a great team, and adding Jordan in was one of the best decisions we could’ve made.
How did you all first meet each other and come up with your band name? What other band names were you considering? How do you think your name sums up with you are and the kind of music that you make?
Cameron and I met in early high school, and we’ve been doing various musical projects since then, but only recently did we really find the sound with Leave the Universe.
We were looking for some sort of name that represented the idea of breaking past seemingly impossible limits. I’ve always felt like I’ve been fighting against the odds to achieve a dream. Kalin and I grew up in a very small town called Durango CO. My family was always very financially unstable and I had a lot of limitations put on me because of religious views. The idea of getting out of that town and playing in a band professionally always seamed a million miles away. When we finally took a chance and moved to San Diego right after high school with no money to pursue music, it felt like we were surpassing a huge barrier! The name Leave The Universe is a statement saying to set your sights past what you think is possible.
We try to carry that message in our music whether it be talking a bout depression, love or even politics. When producing the music, I always try to keep that same attitude about not having limits. When we make music there are no lines that confine what soundscapes or melodies we create.
How do you think you have all been influenced by being from your home in San Diego? Do you think that it has affected your music? What about your time in London? Where did your sound first get established?
This last year in London was probably the most influential year in our creativity to this date. We we’re exposed to so many new people and experiences and I feel like any creative limitations disappeared. Our sound definitely was established in London.
I’ve found that San Diego is full of very open hearted people who are more accepting of change, and instilling change in this world is a big goal of the Dead 30 collective.
San Diego was a really good time in my life that taught me a lot about pursuing music as an actual life path. I never would have understood the dynamics of live shows, working with other artists, connecting to and really understanding our fan base, or the amount of hard work that goes behind releasing a creative musical project without my experience in that city.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming debut EP “N.W.O” which will be released on September 1st. What was it like making this collection? Did anything surprise you about the process? Were there any unexpected challenges?
Recording these songs was almost scary in a way. There is really no filter on this ep so everything is a direct reflection of what I was feeling at the time. I think showing people whats inside of you can be quite scary. There was nothing really too challenging about the process. We have had our own studio set up for the past year now, so it’s very easy to do what ever we need to make music at any time.
N.W.O. is really the crucible of our release. It’s the first time we can really show what we’ve been working on to the world, and lay out the proper stage for the next releases. We’ve worked hard to put it together and we feel the E.P. really introduces us in the best way.
Can you talk about writing your title track? What was it like creating it the day after the election? How creatively involved were you with making the music video for it?
The true meaning of N.W.O. doesn’t relate directly to the election. This song was a long time coming and it finally came into being right after the election, but was sparked by the way the world was reacting. The chorus of N.W.O. gives directions on how to instill a major chance, though if followed, would come a lot of confusion and chaos.
We were completely involved in the creation of the video. It was filmed and directed by the Dead 30 Collective.
Now that the summer is almost over, what was something fun or exciting that this band did or tried? Did you get a chance to play out live at all?
We are planning on stating lives shows in October sometime, but we did not play live this summer. We have been exclusively in the studio.
As far as trying new things, I recently started skating again. I’ve been trying to get outside as much as I can to clear my head.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
It depends. I personally have two modes that I operate in. When I am in a creative mode, I sort of shut out the world and become very focused on what I am making. I am horrible at socializing with people when I am in this mode, and am definitely content in the studio.
On the other hand when I am not creating music, I go into a completely different mind set and am extremely happy being on stage and around tons of people. The main reason we do any of this is so we can connect directly to our fans. Nothing makes me happier in the end.
Jordan- For me its all about the stage performance! That’s where I have always been happiest.
I’m happiest wherever music is involved. There are different mental states that apply to different situations of course, like being more introspective and creative and detached from reality when writing a song, or being more extroverted and present, like at a live show or meeting fans.
How do you think being a musician and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
It gives me a voice. It’s the only way I know how to communicate what is truly inside of me. Without it I would be nothing.
Being apart of a band with other people that love music as much as I do is enough for me!! We all get along great and have bonded since day one!!
I really can’t imagine my life without being a part of Leave the Universe. Almost everything I do is a means to an end that applies to the band. I factor it into whatever I’m thinking about, and that shows me I must really find happiness and purpose in this path.
Who are you all listening to these days? What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I listen to so many different things, but a couple that I keep returning to lately would be Vic Mensa, Logic, and Rihanna. One artist that I can always get inspired by is the composer Hans Zimmer. Whenever I feel stuck, he always inspires me to try something completely outside the box.
Jordan – I’d love to work with Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole to name a couple!!
I’ve been listening to a lot of new hip-hop lately, which was a realm I had never really looked at until we went to London. I’ve been a fan of the new Logic album, “Everybody”, the newest Kendrick album, and I still go back to the last 6lack album that was released last winter, “Free 6lack”. I find a lot of inspiration in music that comes from a genuine place, which is why I really grew to appreciate hip hop, but I’m also very inspired by some other big-sounding and mesmerizing artists like 30 Seconds to Mars or Nine Inch Nails.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
Cameron – As I was growing up, there were so many times when I would find comfort in listing to music. Whenever I would be at the bottom, listening to certain artists would inspire me to push through it and climb to the top again. I want people to be inspired by our music just like I was inspired.
I want people to listen to our music and remember that life can get really dark at times, and that’s okay, but no matter what happens if you keep pushing through, eventually you will come out stronger on the other side.
Kalin – The meaning changes depending on the song, but I think the main purpose of our music is to connect with the listener on a though or a feeling, and leave them with a new experience or something to help them on their personal journey.
Jordan- At the end of the day I want to give people something to hold on to that isn’t sugar coated.
What advice would you give to a young band just getting started today?
If you want to start a band, start it for the right reasons.
Never try to be anyone else, and always be honest when writing songs. Don’t try to filter or change what you write about based on fear of judgement. If you aren’t genuine in what you create, eventually you will become very unhappy.
Jordan- Let whatever you’re feeling come out through the music. Too many people are trying to be like other bands/artist that already made it! Its time to change up the game.!!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves or your music?
We just want to thank our fans! We are so grateful to them for everything they do. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of new people becoming part of the Dead 30 family, and the more we can inspire others the happier we get.
Jordan – Never change for ANYBODY!! You are who YOU are for a reason!! BE YOU …and try to pimp the system and make something of yourself!!
We love what we do and we love to share it. It’s the best feeling to experience the intricacies of life with the people I meet and interact with. It’s really inspiring, and it fuels the art we get to create. It’s a lovely cycle of creation.