Singer-songwriter Jeremy Voltz knows a thing or two about hidden superpowers. He’s also a mathematician.
On his latest single, “Superhero,” produced by Montreal collaborator Oliver Charles, Voltz encourages others to unlock their own secret superpower.
“This song calls for you to be curious about your inner strength, and to have the courage to show up for yourself, which is a common theme I want to get across,” he says.
The song intrepidly ventures into a soulful, melodic blend of rock and pop centered on the groove of Voltz’s electric guitar.
We chatted with Voltz about the single, his upcoming album, Running Away, out on September 29th, and more!
What inspired your new single “Superhero”?
I had this voice note I had recorded of a bluesy guitar part and a melody, and my producer Oliver and I listened to it and sorta both got this stank face… the recording was dirty and had a great groove. So we started working on it. And when we added drums, and the track had this attitude, it just exuded power and confidence. The music told us what the song was about, about showing up for yourself and exploring your inner strength you might not even know about until you try.
What was the writing and production process like?
Oliver Charles is my long-time collaborator, and we are an incredible team. We respect the hell out of each other but challenge each other, pushing to make every part of the track perfect. The lyrics were so fun to write, because we got to reference all of our favourite superheroes. But at the end of the second chorus, I suggested this line “Maybe I could rule down under the sea, yeah, maybe I am alien royalty”. So many superheroes are alien royalty, right? Wonder Woman, Superman, Thor, the list goes on. But Oliver looked at me and was like, you can’t say “alien royalty” in a pop song. That line is too crazy. But again, because we have this amazing and honest relationship, I could push back and be like, no, trust me, this line is great. Sit with it for a bit. And he did, and after hearing it a few times he got it and was totally on board. And everything is like that when we write and produce, there’s just so much respect and honesty both ways. Oliver is the best!
Does your background as a mathematician play any part in your writing and production? If so, how?
People talk about the relationship between math and music a lot, and this is what I think. Mathematicians, like musicians, chase beauty and follow their curiosity. They study something for so long because they genuinely find it beautiful. The beauty of a math topic could be because there’s some complex structure they want to unravel, or some similarity to another far away problem they want to find a link between, or it just surprises them and they want to understand it. And so musicians and mathematicians are the same in that regard: they chase beauty. I think studying mathematics really honed my curiosity and my aesthetics, which permeates everything I do and create.
You shared on Instagram that you played the guitar part of this track, “probably fifty times ‘til it was perfect.” Can you share more about the process of incorporating the guitar and why it is so important to this track?
So this one was tough, because this song lives or dies by the electric guitar. The feel of the guitar part, the bounce it has. If you listen to the track, the drums are really straight and metronomic. So all the groove of the song is from the guitar, the timing of it, the accents, the space between the notes, the attack. And I kept getting close, but not quite nailing it. It’s some imperceptible timing thing you could never describe but you know it’s right when you hear it. So Oliver made me record that part over and over, haha. But we got it!
How does the single tie into your upcoming album, Running Away on September 29th?
I’d say the theme of the album is courage. Courage to be yourself, and courage in your relationships. It’s a vulnerable, powerful album. And Superhero sums that up nicely. But I’d say it’s also a bit of an outlier, because it has a brightness to it, while most of the album is darker. So when you listen to the album, Superhero definitely fits, but is also more upbeat than average.
This is your sophomore album. Is there anything you learned from your first album Weekender, that you are incorporating into this one?
What’s funny is, Oliver and I started working on this album in 2018. But we could only work on it when we were in the same room, and he lives in Montreal and I live in Toronto, so I’d take the train up for a week and we’d finish a track. So it was slow going. And then when the pandemic hit, it halted production for two years. And Weekender was something I did in the meantime, because I had these other songs and a great band and all of us were sitting around not playing live. So Weekender happened in between tracks five and six of Running Away. And they are such different albums, with completely different production processes. Weekender was a love letter to my band, it was the songs we had been playing live and digging into for a while, so it came together pretty naturally. Whereas Running Away has been a totally different experience of exploration and chasing curiousity and delighting our inner child. So short answer… no, haha.
Throughout the process of writing this album, did you find any hidden powers in yourself?
Oliver pulled vocal performances out of me that were unlike anything I’d ever done before. He found this sound that was so raw but powerful, it’s totally changed the way I sing. And we would do some monster like, six hour vocal sessions, and I’d just keep singing. Turns out I’m a singing machine! Never knew until Oli pushed me.
If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to the album, what do you imagine it looking like?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I think I would want to do a planetarium listening party. Everyone in reclining chairs, looking up at the stars. Maybe throw in some lasers for good measure, haha. I think an upward-gazing visual spectacle is the way to go with this album.
Besides the album, what can fans look forward to next?
I shot and directed my first music video with Oliver, and I’m so proud of it. The star of the video is the amazing French artist Gabriella, her on screen performance is incredible. It’s exactly the video I wanted to make for Running Away, I’m so excited to share it!
What is one quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world?
“Think deeply about simple things.”