Taylor Johnson, the front man of his new solo project, The Hope State released the song, and self-directed the music video for “Just Survive” in late June. The Canadian singer-songwriter takes a different approach to all things music since becoming a solo artist, something that happened to him accidentally.
“I’m not a huge fan of working as a solo artist to be honest…I was so busy with so many things and anyone I wanted to be involved had obligations as well. I had intentions of it being a band from the beginning, but life has a way of maneuvering itself in ways that don’t necessarily align with our desires.”
Johnson took matters into his own hands when he grew tired of waiting around. He booked a show for himself and was hoping for the best. We think it worked out in the end because the solo time completely changed his style and pushed him to work harder as a musician.
“It’s nice to have the freedom to tour whenever I want and schedule things, but I’m ready to hit the road with a band. I’ve lined up a great group of people and we’re eagerly awaiting our debut. I’m so happy playing with a band again. It was a huge piece of me that was missing and I’m so excited for what’s to come.”
With the change of his music, came changes to many of the songs he was previously working on as well.
The soft-pop ballad, “Just Survive” started brewing in Taylor’s head over two years ago.
From chord progression to the melody and chorus, just about every aspect of the song had changed. The biggest and most powerful change to “Just Survive” was the lyrics. The song, about a mother losing her child, has a raw and open storyline, but the lyrics weren’t always going to be easily felt by the listener. Johnson brings light to a situation so many people are all too familiar with, but don’t talk about.
“[The lyrics were] incredibly cryptic when I first wrote it. I was certainly hiding the song’s meaning, just as much from myself as anyone else. On paper there would really have been no way of deciphering what it was about… I couldn’t imagine the heartache, remorse and guilt a mother would feel when losing something they were so close to having and wanted so much. The other versions felt wrong, almost judgmental or insincere. When I accidentally started writing in the mother’s voice, with those feelings that were so close to me, it just poured out. I tried to be as honest and empathetic as I could without breaking anyone’s trust or taking something that really didn’t belong to me…”
The music video plays tribute to the rawness and reality of the song, without being cliché. It was shot with all natural lighting, and without makeup or touchups. Johnson wanted to keep the music video clean, and avoid anything that may make it look cheesy or fake. He wanted to avoid a music video that was a mirror of the exact lyrics.
With the long awaited release of this song, The Hope State is now busier than ever. We can’t wait to see what The Hope State releases this fall! Listen to their music here.