A Slice of Pie with Glitch Gum

From relative obscurity, vocalist and producer Glitch Gum propelled himself to the forefront of the hyperpop community with the TikTok-fueled success of his feature on Cmten’s smash hit “NEVER MET!” Sitting down with Glitch over Zoom, I got to know his vulnerabilities, insecurities, and the lingering trauma of being force-fed cold, stale Hawaiian pizza.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Glitch Gum logo on a distorted bubblegum background

Logo courtesy of Glitch Gum
Graphic by Zoe Axelrod

Ringtone Magazine: Can you introduce yourself?

Glitch Gum: I'm Glitch Gum. I’m an artist, producer, and musician. I've been working with hyperpop and glitchcore influences, but I’m also trying to branch out and take hyperpop to other genres. I'm also featured on the song “NEVER MET!” with Cmten, which blew up on TikTok, so that's one of the achievements that I have under my belt right now.

When did you start making hyperpop, and who were your influences?

I started making Glitch Gum music in October 2019, and the only reference that I had to go off of at the time was 100 gecs; they were really inspiring me with their vocal effects and their production, and I was like, “Okay, I'm just gonna do that” because everyone starts off just ripping off their influences. So I started making a couple of songs off of Glitch Gum, the EP that I have on Spotify. “I Wish I Was a Cat” was the first one that I made, and that just reeks of gecs. Then I started forging my own sound as I went on. And I was doing this all in my college dorm and not telling anybody, because I was like, “This is weird. People don't really like this.”

Now, my influences are definitely 100 gecs at the top and Dylan Brady’s other production. I'm really messing with glaive and Curtains right now too. And I'm also influenced by a lot of old pop-punk—Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy come to mind. I'm trying to branch out.

On “PizzaI!!,” your new single, we hear a lot more of that pop-punk influence. What made you want to start incorporating that sound into your music?

Pop-punk was my childhood. It was the music I was listening to when I was 9, 10 years old — Green Day, Blink-182, Panic!, Fall Out Boy. And that was what made me decide that music was what I wanted to do. I was in a pop-punk band in high school. We played a couple shows; it was cool. So I always had that under my belt. And then I made that intro for “Pizza!!,” and I was like, “You know what, I think I want to take this in a pop-punk direction.” I was really scared, because I didn’t know if people were going to like it. But eventually I just said screw it and did it.

I noticed that in “Pizza!!,” you mentioned eating pepperoni pizza with pineapple on top. What other obscene things do you think are acceptable to put on pizza?

I don't mind pineapple on pizza. I think it's cool. Once you start putting sweet things on pizza, I think that’s the limit. Not pineapple, but if you put chocolate syrup on pizza, and it's not a dessert pizza, I think that’s weird. I don't think I would take anchovies on pizza, either.

In the music video for “Pizza!!,” you had to eat a bunch of pepperoni pineapple pizza — how did that go?

The director ordered the pizza a day in advance so that we wouldn't be waiting on it. Thing about that was that it was cold. We ate cold pizza for a whole day. At the end, I was just like, “I gotta go. I can't do this anymore.” It wasn’t the most pleasurable experience, but there are some things you just gotta do. Commit to the bit, as they say.

You mentioned your highschool band — am I allowed to ask what it was called?

Sure, yeah, it was called Gene Pool. It was me, some buddies that I knew from a while back, and my brother. There are a couple EPs up on Spotify. If y'all want some blackmail on me, you can go and listen to my pre-pubescent voice.

Were you always a vocalist?

I don't really consider myself a vocalist. My main instrument is bass, and I also play drums and produce stuff. But I feel like I'm always taking a vocalist role, even though I don't consider myself a good singer.

When I heard Laura Les and Dylan Brady with the pitched-up vocals, I said, “Okay, now I have a cheat. I can autotune my voice until it sounds good.” It takes the pressure off for sure. A month ago, just for fun, I pulled up the original “NEVER MET!” vocals — and before you ask, no, I'm not gonna show them to you, because they're really bad. They’re pitchy and all over the place.

Autotune helps me get into the emotion of the vocals, rather than concentrating on hitting the right notes. Then I can alter them afterwards. I try to hit every note that I want to — it's not like I just blow through a vocal take and then sit there for hours and map out the pitches. I try to sing everything right. But things are gonna be sharp, they're gonna be flat. I don't take vocal lessons. I don't warm up a lot before I sing; I just go in there and do it.

It also helps knowing that I have this high-pitched voice to hide behind. The writing is more candid, raw and vulnerable. If I was singing that stuff with my normal voice, it would be kind of awkward.

Is music an emotional outlet for you?

Yeah, I'd say so. With my Glitch Gum stuff, I’ve tackled some really vulnerable topics — case in point being a song called “Piano Teacher.” It's talking about how I have this independence complex and I shut people out. It's bad. That wasn't really something I got to talk about as normal, everyday Luke. But now that I have Glitch Gum, I can take things like this and make them fun while still being real.

But music is also a language for me. Does this sound cheesy? I guess I’m bilingual — I just breathe, speak music. Making music just comes naturally to me.

With your blend of pop-punk and early internet influences, a lot of your music feels to me like a tribute to the 2000s and early 2010s. Does it feel that way to you?

I wasn't thinking about that when I started the project, but the more that I delve into it, I definitely see it. I'm really here for it, because I do tend to be nostalgic for things that I had in my childhood and the way that it used to be. The Glitch Gum voice is a high-pitched, childish voice, so it makes sense to fall back into things that I knew in childhood, like pop-punk, Webkinz, Miniclip. I think that helps people get into it, like, “Oh, yeah, I was also broken up with on PictoChat.”

Were you actually broken up with on PictoChat?

Unfortunately, no — well, not unfortunately. I wasn't broken up with on PictoChat. I did have roast battles with my brother on PictoChat, and they did damage my self esteem quite a bit. But I’m sure that it’s happened. Also, that's the most brutal way I feel like you could break up with someone. You're right there; you have to be. It's a remote-network thing.

“NEVER MET!” blew up in a pretty major way. How do you feel about that?

It was definitely weird at first seeing people singing my lyrics, because I wrote the song not thinking that people would like or listen to it. Cmten and I both had like 100 followers before “NEVER MET!”; practically no one was listening to our stuff. I was writing with my friends in mind, and I wasn't expecting a bunch of people to gravitate towards it. But I'm really glad they did.

When the song started going into what people are calling “straight TikTok,” people started getting mad about it because it was crossing over into the mainstream. I just didn't care. Music is music. You know, if you like it, you like it. And also, I'm not trying to starve. I'm not trying to be underground forever. I'm thankful that people in positions of power care about the stupid things that I'm doing. On the flip side, people think I’m just the “NEVER MET!” guy, even when I have this EP and I'm working on an album.

At the end of the day, I'm just so thankful. It’s drawn more people to my music, and it's opened up so many doors for me and Cmten.

Do you ever feel self-conscious about your music?

100%. Before “Piano Teacher” dropped, I didn’t tell people about Glitch Gum because I was just so scared. First of all, it was hyperpop, and this was before 100 gecs came into the mainstream. So I was very conscious about that. Also, my lyrics are kind of wack. I'll admit it. I'd be showing people songs and just cringing in my head, but a lot of people I showed it to were like, “No, this is really good.”

I still have a bit of self-consciousness. I'm trying to be the most open that I can be in my music, but I know that it's a little weird and a little unconventional. During the recording process, I try to be as alone as possible so that someone doesn't bust in like, “You said something stupid!”

Are there any songs of yours in particular that you don’t feel great about?

Definitely the hidden track on “Glitch Biome.” I thought it was funny at first — just at the end of this super serious song, this magnum opus of my production that I literally think God handed down to me, doing something stupid and mumble rapping. But now that it’s out there, I'm just like, “Did I really have to say, ‘Mom said it's my turn on the Xbox?’ Did I really have to do that?” When I listen to that song, I just skip that part. But there's not a whole song that I wish I never put out.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, what’s your favorite thing you’ve released?

“Glitch Biome.” That's my favorite song on the EP. It's so weird because it only has two lines, but like I said, I really think the production was handed down by some higher power. I just don't know how I made it. I think it's too good for me to have written.

Has the success of “NEVER MET!” helped you to feel less self-conscious?

Yes and no. Since “NEVER MET!” blew up, there have been people that are higher up than I am that have told me “Your writing is good. Your lyrics are good. We really like that.” And my friends have told me that too. When enough people tell you that, you start to believe it. So that has definitely helped.

But, at the same time, I'm changing. And I'm progressing. I drop “NEVER MET!” and people like that, cool. Are they going to like “Pizza!!?” Are they going to like these pop-punk songs I'm making? Are they going to like it when I get realer and more vulnerable? That's always a fear.

What sort of stuff do you have in the works?

Without giving much away, this new project/album that I'm working on is mostly about a topic that I don't feel like many people are familiar with: being an optimistic person in what I think is a pessimistic world. That has been very vulnerable for me to write about, because, especially in the hyperpop scene, I feel like everyone's kind of doom and gloom. I'm here with my bubbly personality and my pink shirts and my Buzz Lightyear onesie like, “Hey, guys, let's have fun! Let's make some music!” And everyone's like, “No, I just want to be sad.” I'm not trying to discredit that at all — that's just their worldview — but it makes me feel like an outsider.

Do you feel pressure within the hyperpop scene to blend in with what everybody else is doing?

Yeah, definitely. Most definitely. After my EP dropped, I put a song called “Iguana Alana” on SoundCloud with Cmten and Houndoom. Everyone liked that, and no one was really listening to the EP. So I was like, “Crap, am I just supposed to do glitchcore now?”

But, at the end of the day, there aren't any standards in hyperpop. I mean, this is a genre where we have 100 gecs, A. G. Cook, Charli XCX, osquinn and David Shawty in the same category, but they're completely different artists. I would never say to someone who likes 100 gecs, “If you want something that's like that, you should try A.G. Cook.” It's a different sound. But they're all hyperpop.

Would you say that the “hyperpop” label is more about the community than the style?

There’s a debate about whether or not hyperpop is a genre. I would say it is. If it's not, how am I gonna tell people what this music is? I feel like every genre gets named accidentally, so to discredit this would be counterintuitive.

I do agree that hyperpop is less focused on the music and more focused on the aesthetic and the community. I would say the key thing about hyperpop is that it's out there. It’s loud and unashamed. It's creative. It's accepting. That's a big one. It's accepting and inclusive. But it's mostly about expression.

How much longevity do you think hyperpop has?

I don't know. It could be the next pop. That's what I want it to be. Or it could be a fad. It definitely has characteristics of fad genres, like nu-metal, electro-punk, and crunkcore. I'm not gonna sit here and say that hyperpop definitely has ten years or hyperpop definitely has two months, but it could go either way. And I'm hoping that number one, it’ll go up, and number two, that I’ll be at the forefront of that. The goal in life is definitely to be Glitch Gum for as long as I can.

Check out Glitch Gum’s latest single, “Pizza!!,” here.

Follow him on social media: Instagram | Twitter

1 comment :

My Instagram

Copyright © Ringtone Mag.