Had Avenue been releasing music four years ago, he might have earned a place alongside electropop peers Electric Youth on the soundtrack for Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Drive. However, the 21-year-old Toronto producer-songwriter Sam Willows has only been producing under the Avenue moniker for the past two years and it wasn’t until remixes like those of Tears For Fears’ “Shout” and Carousel‘s “My New Friend” shot to the top of Hype Machine’s charts that Avenue started to gain some attention. This year, he began releasing his own compositions, beginning with the buoyant, jazz-tinged “Our Love,” featuring Tokyo Police Club on vocals, and the sleek and seductive “Hot Slow Wind,” the third track on his upcoming Keep Counting EP.
These two releases now bring us to “Last One Out.” Premiering on Interview, Avenue’s latest track doubles as the opener for his debut EP. Its droning guitar, echoing vocals, and buzzy synth recall Wolfgang Amadeus-era Phoenix or Chairlift circa 2012. But the dissonance behind the bouncy production and the somber lyrics prompt a musical double take. “The song is actually one of my more somber tracks,” Willows tells us. “It’s basically about losing your friends and/or lover, and knowing that it was your fault.”
Willows wrote “Last One Out” in reverse, he explains, working backwards from his normal songwriting model. After mulling over the bass line—usually the last element he composes—for a few weeks, he wrote in a drum track, then a chord progression, and finally the lyrics. The result begins with a jangly guitar and steady drum that build into a sonic deluge of production—or, as Willows describes it, “a bit noisy, but melodic and progressive.”
Though his own music is just now emerging, Willows tells us he has written music for as long as he’s played it. He cycled through different influences while focusing on remixes before uncovering an aesthetic of his own. “Making the transition to solo work was always sort of my plan,” he confesses. “It wasn’t until I started singing…that it really started to make sense.”
AVENUE’S KEEP COUNTING EP WILL BE AVAILABLE JANUARY 8 ON DINE ALONE RECORDS. FOR MORE, VISIT HIS FACEBOOK.