Co-collaborators Sam Tinnesz and UNSECRET Discuss “Better Together”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Sam Tinnesz and UNSECRET’s unifying anthem, “Better Together,” has taken on new meaning in the past few weeks following its peak-pandemic production. Tinnesz and UNSECRET are friends and fellow sync writers, each with respective placements in major films, television, and commercial spots. As doors closed this spring and panic ensued across the United States, the two brought together 20 artists, world-class musicians, and fans worldwide for “Better Together.”

The two co-wrote the song over Zoom on April 8th. As isolation became the new norm, Tinnesz and UNSECRET embarked on a creative journey to speak to people’s fears by highlighting the importance of community in coping, wielding a sense of solidarity.

“Under normal circumstances, there’s a “give-and-take” that flows naturally in the room – bumping ideas off each another to build even stronger ones,” UNSECRET expressed about the writing process. “But, that’s difficult to do through an online portal. Fortunately, after a little stumbling around, we discovered the core of the song and wrote the majority of it within a few hours.”

Writing the song was just the beginning of their undertaking. The two continued to record the track and an accompanying video remotely. Admittedly, the process came as a challenge to Tinnesz, who had never recorded vocals without technical assistance.

“I had all the equipment and then some in my home studio, but I’ve always leaned on the knowledge of others to get “the sound” right,” the artist shared. “This time forced me to sit down and go for it myself. I was shocked to find that I ended up capturing one of my favorite vocals alone. I don’t think I will ever love that process of recording by myself, but it was empowering to know that I could do it. Having people like UNSECRET virtually there to do the rest gave me the confidence to at least try.”

The song delivers a genre-bending, border-crossing global message that appeals to the masses. UNSECRET shared that this trans-genre approach fits in with his artistic styling. While he understands the certain necessity of labeling something “country” or “pop,” he feels that practice is often limiting.

“Listening to most of the music made today, ‘genre’ seems like an outdated term, and I’ve been glad to see playlists organized more by emotion rather than “what instruments did you use?” offered UNSECRET. “As it relates to “Better Together,” we never talked about the genre. We just wrote the song, then bolstered the soul of the song with instruments that felt right. There are plenty of live and programmed instruments, so is the result pop? Or country? Or something else entirely?”

Because of their backgrounds as sync writers, Tinnesz shared they move through genre without much thought. “This generation of creatives doesn’t put much stock in that whole way of thinking. If it’s a great song and I can pull it off, I’m usually down to give it a try,” he contributed about the forced-categorization of sound.

Tinnesz acknowledged that “Better Together” is by far the “happiest, folkiest and most country-flavored thing” he’d ever done. “At the end of the day, I want what’s best for the song. So, I’m glad we explored this type of soundscape,” he added.

Recent racial protest attached layers to their previously laid lyric lines. 2020 has proven as a boiling point, demanding unity from all citizens. “For too long, we’ve allowed white supremacy and systemic racism to fracture America. These protests can hopefully guide us toward a future where all people can truly be equal,” UNSECRET provided. “Looking deeper at the message, “Better Together” isn’t just about “togetherness,” it’s about something bigger, that we’re stronger when we’re in union with one another.” 

Both musicians have been taking time to educate themselves on the long history of injustice and exploring the concept of inherent privilege that delineates from this well-established system. “I can only imagine that nothing feels more lonely than being unheard and unseen,” Tinnesz shared. “The verses could probably connect to that feeling while the chorus speaks to the empathy and compassion of a community, fighting in unity for the same cause: “I feel your heartbeat just like my own.”

The companion music video was produced by Sean Hagwell. Tinnesz and UNSECRET gathered 20 artists along with fans from coast-to-coast across the US and across the world, including from Sweden, Brazil, Romania, Germany, Italy, India, and Ukraine, to participate remotely. Watch “Better Together” below.

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