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Music acts as a two-way exchange between artist and audience. Like a live electrical current, the energy transfers back and forth. Two Feet maximizes this energy by maintaining an open dialogue through his music, during rapturous performances, online via candid posts, and in-person. Streamed over 1.5 billion times as of 2020 and triumphant on stage everywhere from Governors Ball to Austin City Limits, the platinum-certified singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer born Bill Dess upholds a powerful connection to the crowd on his full-length debut, Pink [Republic Records].
“It’s super beautiful when fans connect and share what they’re going through with me,” he says. “On a personal level, I directly respond to as many people as I can on social media, but I can’t reach all of them, of course. Writing music that can potentially be heard by everyone is another way for me to relate and maybe even help a little bit. Based on my experiences and how I’ve interacted with fans over the past year-and-a-half, there’s a lot more honesty in my songwriting than ever before.”
The native New Yorker initially made his mark and invited an honest connection on the 2016 viral smash “Go Fuck Yourself.” It eventually earned a platinum certification from the RIAA as he unveiled a pair of EPs—First Steps and Momentum—and toured frequently. 2018’s A 20 Something F*ck EP yielded the gold-selling “I Feel Like I’m Drowning” as he sold out shows worldwide.
In the midst of this whirlwind, he took the stage at Electric Forest 2018 for not only a pivotal performance, but a turning point.
“I got on stage and simply spoke about how I was feeling,” he recalls. “In front of thousands of people, I was very honest with everyone. Everybody stopped talking and listened. I thanked them deeply for being there, because the experience truly did make me feel better. I communicated with them like they were my closest friends.”
Yet, the breakthrough preceded one of the darkest times in his life.
As his mental health and life spiraled out of control, he spent ten days in a psych ward at Bellevue Hospital. Returning home, he turned his attention towards what would eventually become Pink. He penned and recorded the bulk of the music at his own studio in between tracking vocals at the Republic Records studio on the West Coast in Los Angeles. Under the influence of Pink Floyd, Norah Jones, Citizen Cope, Rufus Wainwright, and more, he drew directly on life as it happened.
“For a lot of these lyrics, I’m using real memories and trying to figure out the best way to formulate and pull emotions from listeners,” he goes on. “That’s how my past experiences affected this record. I wanted something with a more complete meaning. A lot of the songs deal with the passage of time and how you interpret it. Musically, I wanted it to be a full album with bangers, heavy songs, and acoustic tracks.”
In late 2019, he teased out the Pink by sharing “Intro,” “Pink,” “Lost The Game,” “You?,” and “BBY.” The full picture becomes even clearer on the 2020 single “Grey.” As bass feedback groans, his voice flutters above a jagged beat punctuated by a fluid bluesy guitar lick. At the song’s core, a soulful hook takes hold.
“It’s about a dating experience I had at twenty-one,” he states. “I quickly put the idea down. That’s where it comes from lyrically. In terms of the music, I thought the drum beat and bass would be heavy and fast live. It’s a special song.”
Elsewhere, his instrumental chops take center stage on “Felt Like Playing Guitar And Not Singing #2” where an airy lead responds to a distinct bass groove and upbeat riff. Hinging on dreamy and sparse six-string transmissions, “I Can’t Relate” and “We Will Be Alright” illuminate a different side of the artist.
“I always would post acoustic videos of me playing guitar and singing on social media, but I never made songs like that,” he elaborates. “I decided to make two stripped-down songs for the record. The juxtaposition of those light and dark moments make Pink even more impactful to me.”
Ultimately, Two Feet gives more energy than ever on Pink—and fans will reciprocate.
“I’d love for listeners to approach every day not having to think, ‘Ah, I fucked up today’,” he leaves off. “I go through it too. I’m trying to share something honest and real with them.”