INTERVIEW: Colleen D’Agostino on Motherhood, The Material, and New Sleepwalk EP

Colleen D’Agostino has been in the game for a few years now, first as the lead singer of The Material, then as a collaborator with deadmau5, a relationship that spawned the platinum-certified single, “Seeya.” On her second solo EP Sleepwalk, D’Agostino collaborated with producer EEKKOO, honing a mature, restrained sound that acts as the perfect foundation for her velvety vocals.

“I don’t wanna run / I don’t wanna run in place / So tell me can you keep the pace / I can’t figure out / How the fear overtakes me but never ever breaks me down,” D’Agostino sings in “Complicated,” the lead track off the EP. Producer Eekkoo’s influence can be seen clearly in the track: metallic accents, the kind of driving beat you find pulsing inside a speeding car. “Somewhere In Between,” the second track off the album, reveals the fears and realities of D’Agostino’s recent motherhood: the late nights grasping in the dark, the too-early sun-drenched mornings.

The album’s confessional lyrics, mixed with EEKKOO’s smooth, melodic production style, generate some major earworm vibes upon repeat listen. It’s a record for late night drives on the PCH, headlights pointed north towards Malibu, tears on the edge of falling down.

Listen to Sleepwalk and read our full interview with Colleen D’Agostino below.

AF: You started singing at age 7. At what age did you start writing music?

CD: When I was in high school I started getting really into music and writing poetry. Up until that point I had really only listened to what was on pop radio and the music I had performed as a kid in musicals. I think the exposure to bands like Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New is what made me want to start turning my poems into song lyrics.

AF: How has your writing process changed since you first started?

CD: When I was starting my band The Material, we would sit in our rehearsal studio for hours and hours and write songs. It was a great way to collaborate, but I think at this point in my career, the lyrics and music come out more thoughtful and well crafted when the song starts with just an acoustic guitar or piano, and me and my lyrics and melodies. If the song is an electronic collaboration, then I like to sit alone with the instrumental version for a few days and come up with different top line melodies (I usually get my best ideas in the car while stuck on the 405 lol). I’ve been in plenty of awkward situations where a label throws you into a writing session with a bunch of producers and they stare at you expecting you to come up with something amazing on the spot. Sometimes it works, but most often my best songs are written when I’ve had a chance to write on my own before meeting with the producer. I wrote and recorded the lyrics and melody for the track “Stay” with deadmau5 in my friends living room. Then I sent Joel the stems and he transformed it into what it is now, before we had even met.

AF: You worked with EEKKOO on this EP. Did you meet through deadmau5?  

CD: EEKKOO and I met backstage at a deadmau5 show when we were both on mau5trap records, and he invited me to a writing session he was doing with Matt Lange. The three of us wrote what is still one of my favorite tracks: “Where Did You Go,” from my Collide EP.

AF: You’ve said in the past that your process varies from project to project. How did this EP stand out, in terms of writing? 

CD: I had really enjoyed working with EEKKOO, but he’s from Montreal so he would just send me a track every now and then to work on. Last year we wrote a song called “Somewhere in Between” that meant a lot to me. I wrote it shortly after the birth of my son Maddox, and that’s when we started talking about turning these songs into an EP. I really love EEKKOO’s production style, and writing long distance means we each have the freedom to do what we do best. I think the end result is an EP we are both really proud to share.

AF: Do you plan on releasing any more music with The Material?

CD: My husband Jon [Moreaux] and I literally put everything into The Material for many many years. We threw all our belongings in storage after our honeymoon and toured the country in a van for eight years with that band. So I don’t think we’ll ever be “done” with The Material. We put out a record last year called Gray States after a long hiatus and it felt so good to write a rock record again. That being said, we don’t have any immediate plans for new music, but you never know.

AF: What music are you currently spinning at home? 

CD: I’m liking the new Bat For Lashes record, also new Banks, and Tycho is always on repeat. If I’m looking to rock out, I put on The Fever 333.

AF: Do you have any advice for artists who are breaking away from their band to create solo work? 

CD: I respect the loyalty that one has to a project you’ve been faithful to for years, but if you’re like me, you listen to a variety of genres, and I don’t see the harm in trying out different styles of music from time to time. It’s definitely a challenge going from writing with a band to being on your own. But ultimately if it feeds your soul, then that self-expression is good for you, and in turn it’s good for the listeners.

Colleen D’Agostino’s new EP Sleepwalk is out now on all streaming platforms.