TALK was alone in his bedroom at 3 a.m. when he began imaging himself “as far away as humanly possible,” he says. “In my mind, that was Mars. I couldn’t sleep. I was frustrated and lonely. When I get into that mindset, the only thing that seems to sort me out is writing.”
His debut single “Run Away to Mars” sprung from his fingertips. “I remember it only being a minute or two before the main chorus lyrics and music came to me, and everything flowed out like a stream-of-consciousness from there,” the singer-songwriter tells American Songwriter. “Writing has always been a way for me to process and deal with my emotions.”
A lover of space and adventure films, TALK built his own story out of various cinematic spaces─“kinda like a kid making a cardboard rocket ship in his backyard,” he says. “I just happen to be better at making songs than I am at arts and crafts. As the song started to grow in my head and on paper, it transformed into a love song for humanity, a way to feel, just for a moment, what it would be like to leave it all behind, a love song for Mother Earth.”
Before my time runs out, what if I run away to Mars, his voice seems to penetrate the fabric of space and time. Would you find me in the stars / Would you miss me in the end / If I run out of oxygen / When I run away to Mars.
“Run Away to Mars” squeezes out every drop of humanity from his very bones, poured over an acoustic arrangement. “I think people can hear authenticity in songs crafted with honest feelings, and I feel that this song has that. It resonated with me instantly. As I was writing it, I found myself getting more and more emotional, and that hasn’t gone away even after hundreds of listens. The clips I’ve shared have seemed to resonate with so many people in the same way it did with me—all types of people from different walks of life. That’s what makes a song special.”
Over the last several months, TALK has posted various snippets of the song on TikTok, wracking up hundreds of thousands of views and quite a dedicated fan base. Originally from Ottawa, and now based in Toronto, the burgeoning singer-songwriter leaves such an impression it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t been around for decades already.
“I think songs are the closest thing to real magic we have on Earth. I’ve never been one who can book a time to write a song. My best stuff has always come to me when I’m not expecting it. I’m sure many writers and artists have experienced this, as well,” he reflects on his songwriting process. “It usually starts with a melody or chord progression in my head. I hum it out loud a bunch until I can get to a phone or computer. It seems to happen at the least convenient times, like while I’m in the shower. Once I get that down, I build the core music and idea of the song – this is usually a chorus or some type of hook element and often the same thing I heard in my head, expanded on. Then, I build it from the center out. I try to use a lot of first ideas. I try not to edit too much and keep it as close to a flow of consciousness as possible.
“When a mix of lyrics, melody and rhythm give you goosebumps, you know you’re onto something. The fact that you can make yourself and others emotional with a combination of these elements blows my mind every single time,” he continues. “It becomes addictive like a drug, and no matter where you are or what you experience, thoughts like, ‘That’s gotta be a song,’ echo in your head everywhere you go.”
Even so early in his songwriting career, TALK has learned a thing or two about the craft─or at least, he’s able to share some of the best advice he’s ever been given. “My dad is going to love that I said this. He’s a massive Beatles fan and always shares clips of Paul McCartney talking about songwriting when he comes across them. Paul talks a lot about how the Beatles would write songs,” he reflects, “and how it often started with someone playing something and everyone sort of standing around and singing melodies with gibberish lyrics that were random words that just happened on their minds. Frequently they would run with those ideas and those first few moments of instinct would become some of the world’s greatest songs.
“The advice I took away from that is: There are no rules when it comes to writing. Trust your gut. Let your mind explore and don’t suppress any ideas,” he adds. “Inspiration may come from a single word or phrase when you least expect it.”
Now, for the worst advice: “‘Find a formula that works for you’─ I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. Formulas are for math and science, and I was never good at either one. If you convince yourself there’s a box you must conform to, you’ve already lost the magic. This leads to infinite second guessing. Don’t guide the song—let the song guide you.”
Listen to “Run Away to Mars” below.