Mod Sun and Avril Lavigne’s song Flames might have gone from creation to release in less than two months, but the reason for the fast growth of their new collaboration can only be attributed to ‘pure magic’.
The artist, whose real name is Derek Smith, has been making music for over 15 years but for some, this is the first time they’ll have come across his sound.
Mod, 33, revealed to Metro.co.uk that his working relationship with Avril began after she heard some of his music through his best friend Machine Gun Kelly, and but he was initially hesitant to ask Avril to sing on the track.
He explained: ‘[It was] magic, pure magic. We linked up through talking and just talking about music – she’s such a music lover, she keeps her ear to what’s happening now and she caught wind of my music through my brother Machine Gun Kelly.
‘It’s hard to even say because it’s f**king Avril Lavigne but she was like “I really like your song, I really like your music” and she was like “send me some other stuff that you’re working on”.
‘I actually sent her Flames, I want to say maybe two months ago at the most. That’s how this all happened, was that quickly. I sent it to her and she was like “Wow, I really love this song” and I didn’t have the guts immediately to be like “So, you wanna sing on it?” I had to build that up within me.
‘I finally got the guts to ask her, and I was like “Yo, there’s no-one else on my album – I want so badly for you to be on my album as the only person that appears besides myself on it, and you said you really liked that Flames song…”
‘She heard it and I actually fanned out. I’m a fan, for real. I’m a music fan so I still fan out around all these people that I look up to and she sent me a voice note just being like “I love this song, it’s really great.”’
Flames, which was produced by John Feldmann, has already racked up over 4million views on its music video – and the vocal on it was pretty much a one-take job.
Mod explained: ‘[Avril] came into the studio and that was pretty much her first take vocal, was what you hear – she’s that good.
‘It brought a whole side to the song… I always felt like Flames wasn’t finished without her on it anyway, I felt like it just wasn’t done and I felt like it wasn’t “the” song.
‘All of a sudden she comes through and I understood the song better after she sang it. I understood why this is a great song. Sometimes as an artist you don’t really know… it’s really hard to be like “This is the song that’s gonna make it, or this is the song that’s gonna blow up”. You might think in your head that you have the idea of what’s gonna work every time, but most of the time you have no idea what you’re making when you’re making it.’
The pair knew they’d captured something special when they hit the studio together, finding the contrast between their two voices created the perfect pairing for the song.
‘It doesn’t always happen like that,’ Mod admits. ‘You could have two people who are individually amazing at what they do and they’re just not meant to sing together.
‘That happens very, very often and a lot of times you hear a forced duet and you can feel it – you can see there’s no chemistry. You can feel that there’s nothing there and [this was] like magic. It’s really magic with this one.
‘I didn’t understand this song fully until I heard the final product and I was like “Holy s**t, that’s a Mod Sun song?! What the f**k is happening?!” So yeah, it was a miracle.’
The pair also shared photos of them in the studio with Machine Gun Kelly in the vocal booth, but Mod remained tight-lipped on whether we’ll get to hear that song on one of their albums in the future.
Those finding Mod for the first time through Flames may not be aware that the artist began his career in post-hardcore bands Four Letter Lie and Scary Kids Scaring Kids before venturing out as a solo star – with forays into releasing a best-selling book, directing, producing and even styling along the way.
His upcoming album, Internet Killed The Rockstar, is coming on February 12 and the title holds special meaning for him.
Mod explained: ‘I’m so into reinventing the rockstar and why I’m saying Internet killed the rockstar – there’s so many reasons, but one of them is the positive reason that there’s a rebirth of the rockstar happening right now.
‘Everyone that was just throwing that title out so loosely, I got news for you – there’s a lot more that goes into that title. You can’t just take it and put on some leather pants and call yourself f**king Rockstar – and I really truly mean this from the bottom my heart, I’m going to ruffle some feathers by saying this s**t, but drugs, alcohol, leather pants and boots don’t make you a mother**king rockstar.’
Mod’s passionate about taking it back to the old-school before music was made on computers and not with guitars, and reigniting the feeling people had as teenagers, finding solace in their headphones.
He says: ‘I watched Internet change music I watched it first-hand – I was there for Myspace, I was there for MP3.com, I was there for Napster, I was there for dial up internet – I watched internet kill the rockstar and now I’m ready to watch it be reborn.’
Mod hopes he can inspire others to have the same feeling he had as a teenager discovering new music – and to inspire others that if he can make it, so can they.
He explains: ‘I want to be that for a new generation, I want to like be that artists that you’re like, “I don’t give a shit with this mother**ker looks like.
‘I’m looking at him not for like “Is he pretty, does he have muscles, is he cute?” I’m looking at this motherf**ker because he’s making his dreams come true and he’s living on his own terms and he’s a f**king punk, he does it his own way.
‘I want to give that inspiration – I don’t need to be a f**king pretty boy. I want to be that person that’s like dude, when you go to sleep tonight just know that this mother**ker out here was able to make it from the exact place that you are in right now.
‘He came from the crowd, he came from listening, came from being a fan, made it and so can you – he’s no different, and I want to bring that whole vibe back.’
Mod also made the choice to give up drinking and taking drugs over a year and a half ago, and he says his newfound sobriety has only helped to enhance the music on his new album.
He says: ‘The fact is that I don’t drink and do drugs anymore, so I’m not going to make a song that says let’s go out and get f**ked up on the Sunset Strip.
‘I don’t care if that might be a hit or not, I’m not going to personally put that out because it doesn’t reflect my life right now. I have songs on this album that are celebrating sobriety and I’ve never done that before.
‘In the setting of a rock star you don’t really hear someone celebrating sobriety – I’m very proud of that, I have a song that’s specifically dedicated to all the people there and myself, dedicated to myself and my strength for changing my life so much for the better.
‘That’s part of the reinventing of the rockstar – I’m going to still go out and not be drinking and doing drugs and you’re going to see me having a great time because that is a f**king great influence on the world.
‘A lot of people might want to change their lifestyle and clean up, but they have no idea or they think they’re going to lose all their friends or they think that their life is going to be so f**king boring and yeah, I’m not gonna lie for the first three weeks or a month it felt a little weird, after that I kind of forget that I used to do that.’
While he doesn’t want to be seen as a ‘role model’ and would never judge his peers, Mod adds: ‘One of the reasons that I’m even here right now or doing this well is because of that change, is because I quit doing that.
‘I can say confidently that everything has changed, for me, since that moment – everything in my life has changed.
‘Even if it was tied into the fact that I was feeling shameful the whole time and as soon as I removed that shame, everything changed for me, it could be that, but it’s just completely changed my life.’
Mod Sun’s new album Internet Killed The Rockstar is out on February 12 and available for pre-order now.