Despite its title, “We Don’t Care,” the new single from Kai Exos, exudes the happiest vibe about not caring. The Toronto/LA-based artist takes a classic walking New Orleans blues horn line, sprinkles his creative producer’s magic, and turns “We Don’t Care” into a lyrically liberating, joyous, ‘gotta move your body to it’ dance track.
The track is premiered here today on American Songwriter, taken from his new album Houseplants which will be released May 1.
“We Don’t Care” offers a positive universal message of empowerment and celebrating yourself. “The stuff I’m saying and writing about is very important to self-worth and identity,” Exos says. “It’s not really about not caring. It’s about the rest of the world looking at you. There’s a kind of freedom in the lyrics. “Go ahead and shout/Cause we found out/Go on ahead and stare/Cause we don’t care.”
“We started recording in Toronto in the fall of 2019. I co-produced this record with Choppalot from New Orleans, and it was cool to have Rebirth Brass Band in on the recording. It added a collegiate vibe that so many of my friends love, too. It was a cool evolution over the next couple of months. I finished it when I came to LA. That’s become the method for working now where I start it in one studio in Toronto (Noble Street), and then finish it up in another in my home studio in LA.”
Exos’ musical influences span a vast cross-section of styles, from hip-hop to classic Motown and British Invasion. “Timbaland and Missy Elliot are top tops for me. ‘Get Ur Freak On’ is in my top 10. I still discover new things about it even though I’ve listened to it a thousand times.”
Exos’ appreciation for the classics came from his mother’s record collection of pop songs that delivered a lot of message in a short amount of time. “My mom was a child of the 60s. Those British Invasion and Motown songs were short. I’m in that bag, that’s where I want to be.
“There’s a line in one of my new songs that says, “when I’m done, I’m really done.” It’s not about music production but it can be applied (laughs). I say what I say and in arranging and composing I know exactly how I want the song to go. On previous records, people would say in a session ‘hey we need a couple more lines’ and I found myself doing that a lot. What I originally wrote in the moment ended up having to be stretched or said differently. I don’t like having to do that in music, where you’re saying something again in a different way. I get that for repeating a verse but consciously I just want to say what I’m saying. It’s concise.”
“The stuff I’m saying and writing about is very important to self-worth and identity. I just want to get to that faster. I’ve gone from being very focused and spending a lot of time honing my songwriting craft to getting it down to a finer point and being more precise.”
Kai Exos photo credit: Juan Veloz