Stephen Puth on "Look Away" and How Brother Charlie Puth Pushed Him to Be a Better Songwriter [Q&A]
Photo: Randall Mesdon
With Charlie Puth becoming a household name, younger brother Stephen Puth has exploded onto the scene. After signing with Arista Records in 2018, he released his seductive debut single, "Sexual Vibe," which was followed by the heart-wrenching "Half Gone." Together, the two tracks earned Stephen Puth over 30 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music. On June 14, the New Jersey native dropped his third single "Look Away," and today he shares a thoughtful visual to accompany the song.
On co-writing with his brother Charlie, Stephen says:
"The song means a lot to me, not only because it's real, but it's also the first song I've ever written with Charlie. It's hard to open up about emotion and make a great song out of it. Charlie's musicality and ability to craft a great song made me a better songwriter, and pushed us both to make a meaningful story out of a small moment."
In commemoration of the new video drop, we got a chance to chat with Stephen about driving a vintage car through the desert, discovering his sound as an artist, and co-writing "Look Away" with Charlie.
OTW: What is your favorite part of writing a new song?
SP: My favorite part of writing a song is the melody. That's how I always start my writing process. A great melody can steer the production and the lyrical concept.
OTW: Where do you like to go to write music and what helps you get the creativity flowing?
SP: I do a lot of writing at home but a lot of my ideas turn into something while I'm driving. I'll record voice memos of melody ideas while in traffic. Besides that, inspiring places in nature like the beach are a great place to find inspiration.
OTW: What instruments do you play, and what instrument would you like to add to that list?
SP: I play piano and guitar. I would love to get better at the drums.
OTW: If you could pick any venue for a performance, what/where would be your dream venue?
SP: My dream venue is PNC Art Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. I grew up seeing shows there, so it would be a dream if I could play that venue.
OTW: This is your third single, and your first time writing with your brother Charlie. How did working with him make this song different from your first two singles, “Sexual Vibe” and “Half Gone”?
SP: "Look Away" feels like the first step in really defining my sound as an artist. Charlie had an idea and together, we wrote a great song. I look forward to future collaborations with him.
OTW: Can we look forward to a Puth brother duet or double feature sometime soon?
SP: Right now, I am just focusing on finding my own sound. More music is definitely coming. I'm so fortunate to have my brother supporting me to help define my craft.
OTW: "Look Away" touches upon themes of unrequited love and a flame that's on its way to burning out. What did you hope to convey about unrequited love by choosing to shoot half the video in black and white?
SP: Shooting parts of the "Look Away" video in black and white represents memories and emotions of a broken relationship. I love how the black and white is a theme of dark thoughts and feeling paranoid. You don't see color until you hear the chorus "I was looking at you the other day…," which is the present feeling of lost love.
OTW: Which scene from the video was the most fun to film and why?
SP: I really enjoyed driving the car on the open road in the desert. It was over 100 degrees that day so it was nice to get a little breeze. Also driving a vintage car is always a fun time!
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
SP: I'm currently listening to Billie Eilish, Bazzi, Lewis Capaldi. They all are doing a great job defining their sound and standing out in my eyes.
OTW: What's on the horizon for you new-music-wise? Tour-wise? We want the inside scoop!
SP: I am currently promoting "Look Away" and planning to release more new music through the rest of the year. I'll be making my way around the country soon to play some radio shows - stay tuned!