The coming-of-age story is one of modern culture’s most popular mythos, often depicted by tragic heroes and heroines who gleam some transcendent wisdom after facing some form of adversity. In Push-Ups, the debut from 21-year-old bedroom artist Jack Larsen, we arrive at the culmination of Larsen’s coming-of-age story. Through a free-flowing blend of futuristic R&B and indie pop, Larsen finds himself coming into adulthood, as he narrates his own loss of innocence. It is a story that feels remarkably poignant in its depiction of youth.
While the project may have been inspired by a bout of nostalgia, the sound is anything but. Push-Ups is a project that recounts the past in such a brilliant way that it paves the way forward for Larsen as an artist. In its six-track run, the young artist continually introduces new facets of himself, both musically and personally. Push-Ups is everything an introduction should hope to be. It’s no wonder then that this debut is not Larsen’s first foray into the music world, previously having collaborated with fellow bedroom artists Kevin Abstract and BROCKHAMPTON. In light of this striking debut, we spoke with Jack Larsen on coming into his own as an artist and adult.
OTW: Why did you decide to name the EP Push-Ups?
Jack Larsen: Push-ups have helped me grow physically and mentally as an individual. They are an activity that has changed who I am as a person and transitioned myself into a more mature lifestyle.
OTW: The project is themed around coming of age and entering adulthood — what made you want to tell that story?
Jack Larsen: I got really caught up in a period of nostalgia in early 2017. I felt lost as a person with no clue what my next step was—anxious to wake up each day not knowing what the fuck I was doing. I remained rooted in my past because it felt comfortable, and I had no drive to grow and flourish. I finally hit reality in the late summer of that year and decided I needed to get shit done. Push-Ups recounts stories that have shaped who I am; by retelling them, I was able to reflect on my days of innocence and move on to the next stage of my life.
OTW: What’s been the most unexpected part of your own coming of age story?
Jack Larsen: Falling in and out of love. It’s a rollercoaster that rips you to shreds way more than I thought it would.
OTW: What made you decide that “Break” was the lead single? How does it fit into the overall EP?
Jack Larsen: I wrote the first verse and right away knew that the song had to be the one that introduced my new sound to everyone. It’s a track that embodies the nostalgic journey I was going for and the perfect representation of the project.
OTW: How are you feeling leading up to the release?
Jack Larsen: Anxious as fuck. I’m not used to going all in like this. This is my first time—my debut. It’s a scary feeling not knowing how people will react, or if my numbers will do well, or if I’m gonna gain fans, and yeah. I literally have no clue what to expect.
OTW: How will you celebrate once it’s finally out?
Jack Larsen: I’ll probably go to Boystown and dance to Ariana if my friend Christian is down. I wanna shake my ass.
OTW: You’ve worked with Kevin Abstract and BROCKHAMPTON in the past — what kinds of things did you learn from those collaborations?
Jack Larsen: Bring as many creative minds as you can together and have everyone add their own style. Collaboration is so crucial, man. Working with them showed me the power that a song can yield with a group of like-minded artists.
OTW: You got your start releasing music from your bedroom in high school – what made you want to make music?
Jack Larsen: I was honestly just a lonely ass kid with no creative outlet and passion; I tried music because I felt like it could bring relief to my problems. It didn’t solve everything, but it engulfed my life, and I trapped myself in my room every weekend to get better at it.
OTW: How did the Chicago music scene influence you creatively?
Jack Larsen: I’d say Chicago culture has influenced me rather than the music scene. I’ve only been here for two years, so everything is new and exciting to me. Like, I’ll always remember the first Chicago summer that I experienced. It was life-changing; I’ve never lived in such a vibrant place during that time of year. All of these new experiences continually impact my work.
OTW: How would you describe your sound?
Jack Larsen: Indie Pop with some future R&B added in.
OTW: When will you say you’ve “made it” as an artist?
Jack Larsen: I feel like I’ll never reach the point where I could say that because it’s hard to be content. We all set goals for ourselves, and when we reach them, we already have new ones set in place. Artists are fucking hungry and competitive, man; each day we strive for more.
OTW: Who are some of your Ones to Watch artists?
Jack Larsen: Alex Bent + The Emptiness