One of the walls of Drew Trotter’s basement studio is painted to look like a van from the 1970s. He keeps the ceiling light off, preferring the glow from lamps and the iMac where he cuts his music together.
The background on the computer is the cover of his first Extended Play, a five-song set called “Shoebox Summer.” A boy, Trotter’s younger brother, with sunglasses, a backwards hat and guitar stands in front of a peach background on the cover.
It’s one of three EPs released at the end of August by three Cody friends: Trotter’s, “skinny” by wooly (Cody Champlin), and “goodbye, i love you” by Jake Sandvik.
A year ago, the trio didn’t know each other well, but after Trotter released a song in early 2020, Champlin reached out about doing a collaboration. A Facetime studio session brought in Sandvik (now away at college), and the rest is history.
Trotter and Champlin talked about their music recently after their EPs released.
Cody Enterprise: What was the inspiration behind some of the songs?
Drew Trotter: After writing “I Miss You,” I wanted to write or come out with a project that was more happy songs, because that’s kind of like a sadder, slower-paced song. So I wanted something more upbeat, uptempo. Something that people listen to more regularly.
CE: How would you describe from a genre standpoint “Shoebox Summer”?
DT: Indie-pop slash alternative. Or, I don’t know. It ranges all over. There’s a lot of variety in it.
CE: Do you ever struggle to figure out what you want to do stylistically with music?
DT: Sometimes, but usually if I come up with something, I kind of just see where it takes me and go with it. I feel like as an artist, it’s better to be more versatile with your style because then you can reach different tastes of different listeners.
CE: Talk to me a little bit about the songwriting process.
DT: It really depends. Last night, I finished two instrumentals, so I wrote two different songs, but I don’t have any lyrics for them yet. I’ll probably wait on those until all of a sudden I get like, “Hey, these are some nice lyrics.” And then I go and I continue to write with that.
Or sometimes you get, “Hey, here’s this cool melody, here’s this cool lyric,” and I want to write something to this. Then you can come up with your vocal melody and then you can write some sort of guitar or piano piece to go with that.
Cody Champlin: What I usually do is I listen. I listened to the instrumental on repeat, sometimes for excessive amounts of time, as Drew would know. And I just try to catch a vibe with it, like what the instrumental – it’s corny – but like what it’s like saying to me or whatever. So then after that, I just write whatever I’m feeling through that.
CE: How long did it take you to make the whole thing, from inception to getting it out there?
DT: It all happened so fast. I wish we could have appreciated it more while it was going on.
CC: From one week from when we decided to focus on making the three EPs to when it was over, it was like month, month and a half tops.
DT: Fifteen songs, it was about 45 days. That gives us three days per song, technically.
CC: And with that, we weren’t even working together like every day. It was like once or twice a week. Then Drew and Jake were working on theirs at home, but I didn’t have a way to do that.
DT: He doesn’t have anywhere to record at his house. So he always had to record here.
CC: I probably recorded the whole EP over like six or seven studio sessions.. And it’s crazy, ‘cause we got 15 songs done, and when we still had like six throwaways.
CE: Talk to me about what it was like working with everyone and the kind of together-but-not-together dynamic you had.
CC: I feel like sometimes we weren’t always on the exact same page.
DT: 100% not. We were not ever on the same page with things.
CC: But, with that, I feel like we still had a good dynamic working together.
DT: Because we all had our strengths. Cody is really good at coming up with a flow for a rap verse. I would say I’m a lot better at coming up with vocal melodies for a chorus or even a verse. Then Jake can write lyrics like no other. There is no doubt that he was the best writer out of the three of us.
CC: I think that’s what helped. We all had our different strengths and weaknesses. We all kind of fed into each other. Even if we weren’t always completely on the same page with everything, we were still helping each other and growing with each other as artists. And, I don’t know, it was just a really good vibe.
CE: What has the support been like for the EPs?
DT: Now that they’re out, my family is 100% into it. My mom listens to it all the time. My sister does. My grandma was listening to it the other day. I know who my real friends are because they’re totally into it.
There’s also people at the high school with little comments like, “I really like your EP,” and, “I really like this song.” The community is responding pretty well.
CC: It’s been a really good experience. Especially the night that my EP dropped, I was so nervous. I was listening to all the songs and they weren’t where I wanted them to be. I was noticing all these little flaws and I was so nervous for it to come out. I didn’t want people to hate it.
But as soon as it dropped I had 30-40 people reach out to me that night and tell me they really liked it and that they were listening to it. I wasn’t expecting anything close to that. So, it’s been really nice.
CE: What are you going to take away from this whole experience?
DT: This might sound a little cheesy, but you can’t let other people’s opinions affect how you feel about things and you have to just be yourself and not worry about what other people think. There have been a few hateful comments about me doing music and stuff like this, but it really doesn’t faze me because I’m doing what I love.
CC: Music, I didn’t take it as seriously as before. It was just something I enjoyed and saw as a hobby. But making music, hanging out with Drew and Jake, has definitely been almost kind of therapeutic for me. Jake and Drew knew at some points during the summer that I was a little bit not having it.
DT: He was a sad boy.
CC: I was a sad boy. I was a sad boy for a little bit. But every time I hung out with these guys or went back to the studio, my mood changed. It was super therapeutic for me. It’s definitely shown me what I want to do going forward.
CE: If you were writing the story of creating this EP, what would you want it to say?
CC: I’d definitely want it to be encouraging and basically just telling the other kids, all sorts other people, that, just do it. If you have a goal, if you want to make music, if you want to do art, do poetry, anything like that, just pursue it. Be real with it. Be serious with it. You can do it. You can make things.
DT: Like I said earlier, you can’t let other people’s opinions change how you do things. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t listen to what this person says or what that person says. Just do it.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.)