BAD CHILD's debut album Free Trial is out now! We chat to the musician about the release and so much more.
Image: Nik Arthur
Canadian musician BAD CHILD has treated fans to his new concept album, Free Trial. Written and recorded over five years, the record serves as a coming of age story for the musician, documenting his growth as an artist and in his personal life.
Free Trial takes on a unique structure, presenting itself as a dating application of the same name, narrated by voice over clips that guide the listener through the phases of the record like phases of a new relationship. Playing out across 19 tracks, the record examines and comments on the somewhat distorted experience of creating meaningful human connection online in the 21st century, whilst also acknowledging the challenges that come with navigating emotional concepts through your phone.
Today, the musician has shared the visual for Mannequin. The animated clip sees a figure strutting their stuff down a highway in the desert, coming face to face a variety of giant silver mannequins before launching himself into the stratosphere.
Over the past three years, BAD CHILD has been gathering momentum as an artist, having released his thematic debut EP, Sign Up, in 2019. His collaboration with Ryan Chambers, Candy, featured on the soundtrack for the Netflix film, To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. The past twelve months saw the musician reflect upon the music that influenced his own songwriting and creating skills. He released COVERS, an EP that included his own interpretations and renditions of songs by Harry Styles, Bill Withers and Soundgarden, whilst also exploring new avenues of producing by incorporating new sounds and instruments on his own tracks and collaborations. BAD CHILD’s eccentric music and unique vision landed him on the festival circuit in 2019, playing some of the world’s most prestigious line ups including Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds and Osheaga.
Free Trial is out now! Read our interview with BAD CHILD below.
Tell us a bit about how you began your musical journey...
When I was 18 I moved to a Toronto and slept on the floor and made music every day until I ended up somewhere. It was like reaching in the dark all I knew was I was supposed to be looking for something.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Free Trial!
You began working on the record quite some time ago. How did the release evolve and change over that five year time period?
Thank you so much! And yeah quite a lot actually the whole record in some ways kind of developed into a coming of age for me? I started it when I was 18 & I’m turning 24 shortly. If you listen you can almost hear me lose a lot of naivety on it.
The record conceptually examines and comments on the distorted experience of creating human connection online and acknowledges the challenges that come with navigating emotional concepts through your phone. What prompted you to explore and examine these themes?
I think it was an emotional response to things like tinder and seeing how people treated each other in day-to-day life as objects - as free trials.
Free Trial is a concept album structured to feel like a satirical dating app, with a narrated voice over guiding listeners through the stages of a new relationship. How did you conceptualise this approach and did the concept of having the album represent a dating app influence how you crafted the body of work?
In a lot of ways yeah the concepts preceded a lot of the music and I found myself writing around these ideas that are floating in my head it was kind of nice in the long run to have an anchor point to work from. I was very cynical at that point in my life and I felt like that was something that I should explore.
The tracks touch on themes of love, loss, intimacy, and anger. Listening to these songs now, what are your thoughts on the tracks retrospectively? And what emotions do the songs conjure for you now?
There’s a whole plethora of different emotions attached to each song like I said earlier it’s kind of funny looking back and seeing what songs were more naive and green compared to the later body of work. I’m really proud of this as the first album but there’s a lot of songs on this album that I look back on and laugh at because it feels like a teenage boy wrote it. In a lot of ways that’s exactly what happened.
If you had to pick three songs off the album to play to someone who had never heard your music to make them an instant fan, which songs would they be and why?
I would want them to listen to bad child because that was the first, and it’s very close to my heart. Secondly HI DEF because it comes from an important place conceptually in my opinion. Lastly Rouge, I think a piece of my soul is trapped in that record.
If Free Trial was a piece of visual art, which artwork would it be and why?
I think Free Trial would be an extremely corporate art piece something Alegria. Something uncanny and washed out. Like the blue in the Heathrow customs as you enter England.
You’ve released some great visuals throughout the albums rollout! How important are the visuals to you when it comes to conveying the story and meaning present on the track?
Tremendously important especially in this day and age when image is nearly synonymous with sound.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording?
A lot of Free Trial was written all over the world. Lots of overhearing conversations on trains and being inspired by liminal spaces. I often will produce an arrangement and write to it, sometimes it will be poetry that will form into lyrics. It’s always different to stave off boredom.
Did you encounter any challenges whilst creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic, or did it allow you the time and space to immerse yourself within this musical project?
I’m honestly very lucky this time has helped me re-centre creatively and ground myself. I self produce everything so working from home is what I’ve always been doing.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live, what are your touring plans post pandemic? If any, what can people expect from one of your live shows?
I’m hoping to get back out and do a full North American tour, followed by Europe. My live shows are an extreme expulsion of energy I feel like they are physical therapy for myself.
Video games, Nine Inch Nails, My Grandmother.
Thom Yorke or Burial.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails. I was twelve and it irreversibly damaged me.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Ugly, crunchy, shrill.
A musical release you are most looking forward to in 2021?
Anything new from Brockhampton.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Star Wars 100% they need to bridge new sonic territory.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
The best/most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Lollapalooza was incredible, got to meet Hozier hang out with Jaden Smith and play a show for thousands of people the energy was off the charts.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Kid A - Radiohead.
Best concert you have been to?
Last concert you went to?
I don’t remember it was probably a festival.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Guilty music pleasure?
Not guilty about any music I love! Maybe I’m Blue by Eiffel 65.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
Undeniably Kanye. But going back in time artists like Mulatu Astatke & William Onyeabor have inspired generations of music and people don’t even connect the dots.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Current self: don’t give people money anymore.
Future self: you should’ve listened to your past self.
Past self: it’s okay to take a breather.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When I taught myself to play in my grandmas garage on a piano that had been in a house fire. I’d set the radio up and imitate every song until I started making my own things up.