“I wanted to subvert expectations:” IDKHow chats ‘GLOOM DIVISION’, Aussie slang and collaborating with Dave Fridmann

Ahead of his sophomore album, IDKHow swings by Happy for a deep dive into new single INFATUATION and the consequences of self-obsession.

We are just weeks out from the release of GLOOM DIVISION, the sophomore album from Utah wunderkind iDKHOW BUT THEY FOUND ME.

While fans of the eclectic artist might think they know what they’re in for, Dallon Weekes assures us that he “never want[s] to make the same album twice.” 

iDKHOW 'Gloom Division' interview
Credit: Manic Project

Below, we caught up with the man behind the eclectic project IDKHow, for an insightful chat about his new single, favourite Australian musicians, and what to expect from his upcoming album, due out February 23.

Catch our full interview with IDKHow below, and scroll down to listen to his new single INFTATUATION. You can pre-order GLOOM DIVISION here.   

HAPPY: ‘INFATUATION’ is about religious guilt, wild fantasies and “talking with Lucifer”, as you say in the song. Why was this topic an inspiration when writing the lyrics?

IDKHOW: He does make an appearance, yeah. Those themes are definitely in the song, but it’s not really the centrepiece.

It was supposed to say that it’s more about indulging your own ego, to the point of neglecting reality and the consequences that always come with it. The sexual stuff, and the religious guilt, that’s in there too.

The past two years or so, with the pandemic and with lockdowns, there was a lot of time spent isolated, writing and in the studio.

Over the course of the pandemic I learned that I’m neurodivergent, and when you get a late diagnosis like that, something that comes hand in hand with that is unpacking your entire life as far back as you can remember.

So there was a lot of revisiting and remembering past experiences and deconstructing them, finding meaning behind them. You draw upon that stuff when you make art, it’s all in there somewhere. 


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HAPPY: The 70s were all about hedonism and disco’ing. Did the sounds of the 70s inform the themes you wanted to explore on the single?

IDKHOW: It’s kind of the yacht rock song that’s on the record. It’s definitely Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald.

Everyone’s up on the top deck doing whatever it is they do in the ‘70s. I’ve only read the stories, I wasn’t there. But yeah, it’s definitely an influence sonically too.  

HAPPY: ‘GLOOM DIVISION’ is produced by Dave Fridmann. Can you tell us a little about the collaboration process, and how you worked together to achieve the sound?

IDKHOW: Well it was incredibly easy to work with Dave Fridmann because he’s made a lot of my favourite records by a lot of my favourite artists.

So the musical vocabulary that was coming in for this record, he was already familiar with it because he’d ‘written the book’ pretty much. I’ve been such a fan of his since the late ‘90s.

I’ve always wanted to work with him, so when I get the chance to go up to his cabin where all of these legendary artists have made music, it was really inspiring.

Then to be able to communicate an idea I had, Dave would always understand right away, and within a minute he had zeroed into whatever sound I was chasing.

That’s not something I’d ever experienced so easily before, so that was really fun. Yeah, it was a piece of cake.  


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HAPPY: ‘INFATUATION’ is all about obsession. Is there anything that you’re currently obsessing over?

IDKHOW: Yeah, and weirdly, a good handful of them are Australian. I don’t think that was by design, there’s just a lot of really good stuff coming from Australia recently.

I’ve kind of been orbiting the output, I guess. A lot of really great bands are coming from out of there, and comedy of course, and some TV shows. I’ve been absorbing some of your slang too, not on purpose, but it finds its way of creeping in there.

My whole family calls it ‘Maccas’ now, like ‘wanna go get some brekky from Maccas’. We say that, not ironically, but it sneaks in. 

That’s the thing about Australian slang, it gets right to the point, it’s snappy and it sounds like it should be the proper word for whatever it is you’re talking about. The first time you hear the word ‘drongo’, you could probably guess what it means. I love it. 

There’s a lot of Australian stuff I’ve been consuming lately that I just love. Parcels is a band I really like from there, and Royal Otis, you’ve got King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, of course.

They are one of the favourites coming out of there. There’s also a really great show I just finished called Mr. Inbetween. Anytime popular culture comes out of a very specific area, and has touchstones on the rest of the world, that’s really cool.  


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HAPPY: How would you say infatuation differs from love, and how does that relate to the song?

IDKHOW: They are definitely two different things. Sometimes infatuation can set you on the path to discovering love, but sometimes it can set you on a less healthy path.

That’s more what the song is about. It’s being infatuated with yourself and your own ego, thinking that you’re greater than you really are, and buying into the hype.

It’s something that comes hand in hand with show business and the entertainment business. It’s very easy to become surrounded by people and insulated from the outside world.

These people who are on your payroll, it’s their job to tell you how great and wonderful you are and every idea that you have is fantastic.

The reality might not always agree with what you’re being told, so it’s important to be aware that that’s a pitfall that can happen, if you’re pursuing a career in show business. 

HAPPY: ‘GLOOM DIVISION’ is your sophomore album. Is there a certain level of ‘having to prove yourself’ that comes with releasing a second album? Or are you more keen to just get the music out?

IDKHOW: I think for me it was more about subverting expectations. When I started this thing, there weren’t any expectations.

When I made the 1981 EP, it was just me making songs for myself, no goal in mind, no intention of really making a record or having this become a ‘thing’. I just really wanted to make music and wanted to play those songs.

So I spent a year or so doing that and denying that this project even existed. But after making that record and things picked up, suddenly there’s an expectation now.

People think they know who you are and what you do, based on this one piece of work that you’ve done. 

So when it came time to do a follow up, I think a lot of people were expecting me to do that again, which I’m not interested in at all.

I never want to make the same album twice, and I never want to play to the gallery, as David Bowie said. So I wanted to subvert expectations, and lean into the kind of music that I’ve always really loved and have been inspired by rather than repeat myself. 

HAPPY: Moving on to the music video. I’m wondering about the significance of the body double who replaces you at random moments in the video?

IDKHOW: That whole video was born of necessity. The original plan for that was to make a lyrics video, that’s the budget that we had.

But it’s my favourite song on the record, so I wanted to do a little something more with it, so we managed to get a little creative with what was available to us.

I’d already made this face mask of myself as a way to avoid making content all the time. You know, putting the mask on someone and saying ‘you go make the content, I’ll go make the music’.

So we employed that in the video because it was appropriate for the subject. Being infatuated with your own ego. I thought it was a humorous way to approach that by putting it on an actor friend, Dan Smoothes,  whom I’ve always really admired.

He’s a really good dancer but he moves with a bit of humour as well. That subject can be kind of dark, but I think approach it with some humour sort of disarms it a little bit. I think the video turned out really great.

One of my oldest friends, Matt Glass, directed it. He’s an Emmy-winning guy based in LA now, but we grew up together in Clearfield, Utah. He did a great job. 

HAPPY: Is there anything that influenced you from the specific scene of Utah that you now carry with you?

IDKHOW: Yeah I try to wear it on my sleeve everywhere I go. There’s a really great art and music scene that exists in Salt Lake and Provo, and it gets overlooked a lot because it’s not East Coast and it’s not the West Coast.

A lot of people not just across the world but in our country as well tend to ignore the in-between bit.

So much good art and music gets made here, and I want to do what I can to help turn heads towards where I’m from, and see the art and music that’s made here. 

HAPPY: How does ‘INFATUATION’ sit within the broader themes or sounds explored on ‘GLOOM DIVISION’?

IDKHOW: It’s hard to say because I don’t think there are necessarily any two songs that sound alike. That’s probably because I’m more a fan of songs than I am of genres, per se.

I think stylistically and sonically, they all still are cohesive and you’ll hear that as you listen to the record as a whole.

But it was important for each song to also be able to stand on its own and not necessarily rely upon the other songs in order to have legs of its own. It’s all kind of a bunch of individuals as a group, if that makes sense. 

I would say throw your expectations out the window. If you think it’s Razzmatazz part two, you’re gonna be disappointed for sure. I think if you can keep that body of work in mind, but expect it not to be repeated, you’ll be happy. 

HAPPY: The album is said to push the boundaries of multiple genres. How do you go about making a project feel cohesive, even as you touch on so many sounds?

IDKHOW: I would say mentally, I like to live in a space that’s loud, with a lot of stuff going on, and I think that has to do with my ADHD. I didn’t really understand how true that was until I was diagnosed officially and took medication for the first time.

I experienced what I call ‘quiet brain’. I was turning off all the different radios that were on all at once and I could one train of thought for the first time in my life.

After experiencing that I sort of revisited the record and went, ‘oh shit, there’s a lot going on here’.

But when I’m not on medication it’s all in perfect order and everything is where it’s supposed to be, so my hope is that it’s not overwhelming for neurotypical people. I think if you are neurodivergent in any way it’ll feel a little bit more like home. 

[ADHD] is a double-edged sword. I’ve had it my whole life and never knew about it, so the negative aspects to that I’ve lived very vividly.

You know, feeling alone in a group of people, feeling like an alien, sort of watching a different race interact with each other and not understanding why people do the things they do.

But all of that experience lends itself rather well to making art. Making music was the first language that allowed me to connect with someone else. I knew how to speak, I knew how to mask, I knew how to fit in how I was supposed to.

But an actual real human connection I never really had until I was about 15 years old and started learning guitar, and met other people who were doing the same thing.

It was finally like, ‘oh, you like this? I like this!’ and that’s where I really started to connect with people.

So it has negative aspects and it has good aspects, and it’s I think a matter of examining both and weighing them against each other and trying to focus more on the positive. 


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HAPPY: What makes you happy?

IDKHOW: Oh man, my family and just being with them anywhere in the world that we can go to.

My order of preference: if I had to be with anyone, it would be my family first, being alone second, I’m an introvert, and third would probably be on stage in front of people playing music.

Those are all things that make me very happy. And Maccas, yeah, brekky from Maccas.