JP Saxe just put out his debut EP, Hold it Together, on February 7th and the reviews have already been very much in his favor. His six-song release has caught the attention of many due to its viral tune, “If the World Was Ending,” which the Canadian singer co-wrote with songwriting mainstay Julia Michaels. And since the tune was released last October, it has been streamed over 200 million times. It’s also been touted by the likes of Shawn Mendez, Gwen Stefani, Sam Smith, and more. The feat is something that Saxe is very much still wrapping his head around.
The 26-year-old tells American Songwriter that the EP is “about two years of songwriting compiled into what I felt was the way I was introducing myself, my first body of work.” His typical writing process, which he followed for this project, involves journaling his thoughts as they arise. “Then I’ll go back to those journals and pick out lines that feel like they could start a song or seem like they could be important. And that’s how every one of these songs started,” he says, noting that this activity has allowed him to maintain consistency song to song. “I’m not trying to conceptualize some grand artistic thing,” he explains. “My subject matter doesn’t change cause it’s just my life and therefore they all seem to go together.”
The theme behind his EP, per Saxe, is navigating the ups and downs of his life. “It’s me figuring out myself in and out of love. And what it means to be myself, what it means to be myself for someone else, and how that changes,” he explains. For instance, he has a track on the release called “Sad Corny Fuck,” which takes him back in time with an ex lover. “I was driving in Los Angeles and was thinking about moments from a past relationship that at the time I thought were the best feelings in the world and really believing in those memories and that I was in the best version of love that could possibly exist. And realizing that the same memories that were the best ones in the relationship were most terrifying ones after it. Because what if I was right? What if that was the best love for me?” he says. So Saxe was looking for a song that would sum up that feeling and thus the tune was born. “It’s the fastest song I ever wrote,” he adds, noting that unlike most of his tracks on the EP, this one came together in a little over and hour.
And then there is the Michaels collaboration, which Saxe says came together in an unconventional way. “She posted a song of mine called “25 in Barcelona,” the first song on the EP on Instagram. I responded to her, told her I thought she was amazing, and she suggested that we write, which I was obviously very excited about,” he says. The duo wrote “If the World Was Ending” the same day that they met. He calls the experience “magical.” “Working with anyone who is in that league of their own is inspiring,” explains Saxe. “We sat down at the piano. It was a couple of weeks after the earthquake in Los Angeles and I had the line, ‘if the world was ending, you’d come over, right?’ She liked that line and we talked about where I was during the earthquake, where she was during the earthquake, what we were thinking about during it. And then verse one became my story and verse two became hers,” he says, of the backstory.
Per Saxe, the tune is about imagining a version of reality where all of your good reasons not to talk to the people you don’t talk to become meaningless because you’re not going to wake up in the morning. “I would love to see this song inspiring putting love before other petty things that keep us from it. For example, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people about this song, making them wanna reconnect with a family member that they maybe haven’t spoken to in a number of years. The song makes them think of them and that’s so fucking cool to me,” he proclaims.
The process of songwriting with others isn’t new to Saxe, who used to work as a songwriter for other artists before delving into his solo career. But the dynamic of bringing in a songwriter to work on his own material is definitely new. “Although the session with Julia was unique in every possible way in that we were writing something for us together, which I don’t think I’d ever done before,” he says, noting that after the success of that co-write, he’s definitely inclined to do it again.
Saxe is thrilled the tune has been enjoyed so much but says that his early success still hasn’t quite sunken in. “It’s very hard to emotionally internalize the Spotify streams but when people sing along to it at the shows, it’s pretty wild and that’s something that I can take in, that’s something thing I know how to feel,” he says.
He’s currently gearing up for a slew of tour dates, including a headlining show in Los Angeles at The Echo, followed by a European stint supporting Lennon Stella. Saxe jokes that his shows give his audience the chance to get very up close and personal with him. “It’s a lot of over sharing and me walking you through these songs with some interspersed commentary of how they go with my life, plus occasionally some extra piano playing than may be necessary,” he proclaims. And don’t expect the same experience twice. “Every show is different because it’s just me up there bouncing back and forth between the piano and the guitar,” he adds.
As fans discover the EP, Saxe has one hope in mind. “I am excited for people to find some of their own experience in it,” he says, noting that the following is his idea scenario for kicking back and experiencing Hold it Together: “I imagine sitting with a friend at home after dinner, mid meaningful conversation. You’re talking with a friend about a relationship and then you’re like, ‘wait, that reminds me of this song. You should hear this. ‘Then you pause your conversation, play the thought, and go back to your conversation.”
Hold It Together Track List:
- 25 In Barcelona
- If The World Was Ending (ft. Julia Michaels)
- Sad Corny Fuck
- 3 Minutes
- Explain You
- Hold It Together
February 11 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
February 19 – Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
February 20 – Brussels, Belgium – La Madeleine
February 22 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Melkweg
February 24 – Glasgow, Scotland – SWG3
February 25 – Manchester, UK – O2 Ritz Manchester
February 26 – Dublin, Ireland – Olympia Theatre
February 28 – Birmingham, UK – O2 Institute Birmingham
February 29 – Bristol, UK – Anson Rooms, Bristol SU
March 2 – London, UK – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
March 3 – London, UK – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire