Liam Johnston chats his emotive new single Abyssal Dreams

It’s been a few weeks now since we first laid ears on Liam Johnston’s new track Abyssal Dreams, but for that entire time, we haven’t stopped listening. The track balances gracefully between melancholy and hope—a heartfelt slice of dreamy alternative folk.

So, fresh off the track’s release, we caught up with the artist himself to chat all about it, dealing with heartbreak, and what the future holds.

Hot off the release of his dreamy new single Abyssal Dreams, we caught up with Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Liam Johnston for a chat.

HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

LIAM: Hey going pretty well. Just sitting down at home with my dog getting ready for rehearsals for a gig I’m playing in Brisbane in a few weeks.

HAPPY: We’ve been loving Abyssal Dreams! How does it feel having the track out there in the world?

LIAM: Hey, thanks! It feels good to get it out to the world and have some people liking the track. I was so nervous for it to come out but now it’s done I just can’t wait to play it live!

HAPPY: Could you tell us a bit about the song?

LIAM: Um, the song came together over a few months of coming back and forth to it. The song is about the understanding of a lost relationship, it helped me close a chapter of my life and open up about losing someone. I wrote the song from the place I was at a few months before and how hard it was to overcome the feeling of losing that relationship. For me, writing Abyssal Dreams was about coming out the other side of loss and finding peace within myself.

HAPPY: For me, the song was super interesting because it balanced bright and melancholic themes simultaneously. Was this something you consciously tried to achieve in the song?

LIAM: Not really! I guess it was just the place in my life I was at when I wrote the song. I was so sad to be letting go of something but at the same time I was happy to be moving on and I was happy with where I was at the time. When we deal with heartbreak or loss there’s always a moment when you’re like okay this is it and I need to live with it, and when you reach that realisation you can be happy with where you are and yourself. I wanted people to feel that there is happiness at the end of it all and that letting go of something isn’t always a bad thing. So I guess that’s why the song is quite sad lyrically, but for me, happiness is ultimately what came out of the song and its writing process.

HAPPY: This is the latest in a string of releases from you. Did you approach the writing/recording of this new track differently at all?

LIAM: Every release so far as been slightly different in their own way. My first two tracks Amethyst and Alone were slightly more electronic. Whereas Abyssal Dreams has followed a more band driven approach. So I sat down with my producer Cody McWaters and best mate Jordan Polbodetto and really tried to focus on what guitar sounds and parts would really suit the track and tried to strip it back as much as we could, rather than layering it with synths and other synthetic instruments.

HAPPY: Your first single only came out last year, but it feels like you’ve got a pretty strong direction with your sound. How long had you been making music before that?

LIAM: I really only picked up guitar when I was 18 and out of school so that was like 4 years ago. I actually just loved writing. I’d write poems, stories or just anything I thought about really, one day I just picked up a guitar, taught myself and now I’m singing as well haha.

HAPPY: Are there any other artists you’re really loving at the moment?

HAPPY: Maybe it’s because I was at Splendour the other week seeing these acts but I’m really loving Tyne James-Organ, Sam Fender and Local Natives.

HAPPY: What’s next for Liam Johnston? Any other exciting plans in the works?

LIAM: So tomorrow I’m actually heading into the studio to hopefully finish tracking the next single! Then after that, an EP will come out… I think? Not really sure I guess just gotta keep playing it by ear and see what happens. But for now, I’m just recording and preparing for some shows!

HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!

LIAM: No worries! Thanks for chatting with me.

Abyssal Dreams is available now. Listen above.