Caleb Lee Hutchinson Is Seeing Himself Clearly in New Song ‘Who I Am’ [Exclusive Premiere]
Caleb Lee Hutchinson was hearing so many opinions. His newest song, "Who I Am," helped him cut through the noise.
When he arrived in Nashville, about two and a half years ago, Hutchinson felt not only as though he had a lot to prove, but also as though everyone else's thoughts about his music and career were louder than his own. "I felt like everyone had a perception of me being a person that I myself didn't want to be," says the singer-songwriter, who finished second on American Idol Season 16 in 2018; at that time, he was only 19 years old, and he was still trying to figure out where, exactly, he fit in.
"I was listening to my favorite writers and thinking about why I liked their writing style so much. I realized that all of my favorite writers, from Hank [Williams] Jr. to non-country writers, all shared one quality: They all wrote as if what they were singing was an excerpt from their own diaries," Hutchinson explains — so, he tried it. Alone, in his bedroom, he sat down and wrote "Who I Am," which is premiering exclusively on The Boot.
"I decided to just write a song, almost for myself, that expressed my own feelings, struggles and anxieties," the artist continues. "It’s an open letter to the world and to myself: You don’t have to define me, because I already know who I am."
Twangy and swampy — and undeniably country — "Who I Am" positions Hutchinson against the people who "doubt my authenticity / Just because they seen me on TV." He's had enough of every else's opinions and is confident enough to tell them all off: "You can try and figure out my plan / But don't try to tell me who I am," he sings.
"When I moved to town, I was so worried about what people would think of me, what I should do, wanting to voice my opinions but not step on anyone’s toes. I think these past few years have taught me that while you should always be conscious and respectful of your listeners and those that are on your team, at the end of the day, you are responsible for you," says Hutchinson, now 22. "I started to focus less on what the public perception of me was and more on my own self-perception. I started to think more about how I would want my music to sound if I were looking back on my deathbed with no one else’s approval needed."
"Who I Am" is one of five songs on Hutchinson's forthcoming EP, Slot Machine Syndrome. The title track, the artist explains "defines the time of my life that this record encapsulates, as well as the subtle theme of the record overall."
"To me, it’s about breaking free of toxic insanity that many fall into and can’t get out of. It's about moving forward with a clear mind and making the best decisions I can and letting go of the fear of future regrets," adds Hutchinson of the song, which he co-wrote with fellow Georgian Brent Cobb. "Plus, I just think it’s a cool name.
Hutchinson's new EP, produced by Cobb, follows his debut EP, a self-titled project, released in 2019.
"Brent Cobb has been a long-time hero of mine, and now I’m lucky enough to call him a friend ... I enjoyed watching his laid-back nature be brought into the studio. It felt like a bunch of friends hanging out and making music, for the sake of making something cool," Hutchinson shares of the recording process. "He allowed me to be as involved as I wanted to be while still providing his own sense of direction to it. I think Brent is the kind of artist who is truly amazing and truly country without having to try to convince anyone. I think he brought that energy with him into the studio, and you can hear it in the record."
"Who I Am" is due out widely on Friday (June 24), and the Slot Machine Syndrome EP will be out on Sept. 17. Visit CalebLeeHutchinson.com for more.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Slot Machine Syndrome EP Tracklist:
1. "Who I Am" (Caleb Lee Hutchinson)
2. "Love You Tonight" (Caleb Lee Hutchinson)
3. "Slot Machine Syndrome" (Caleb Lee Hutchison, Brent Cobb)
4. "I Must Be Right" (Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Trey Hensley)
5. "Whatcha Got" (Caleb Lee Hutchison, Bay Simpson, Kevin Mac)
More New Albums Coming in 2021: