Stephen Puth Talks New Single and Working Alongside His Brother

"I mean music, in general, is in a weird but great place."

24-year-old Stephen Puth has dedicated his musical career to navigating the minute intricacies of romantic relationships.

From "Half Gone" to "Sexual Vibe," each of his breakout singles so far has attempted to unravel and understand a different nuanced phase of romance. His latest release, "Look Away," expands further on this theme. "It's not necessarily the first time we fight or fall in love, it's that weird awkward in-between phase leading up to some sort of breakdown," Puth told Popdust. The track, which he co-wrote alongside his brother Charlie Puth, was a complicated endeavor for Stephen to put into words. "We wanted to talk about something universal that everybody goes through," Puth said of the track's creative process. "It's hard to open up about emotion and make a great song out of it." Stephen spoke further with Popdust about the new single and what else we can expect from the up-and-coming pop sensation.

Tell me more about the new song!

People's eyes can tell the whole story in a break-up, and we wanted to take more about that specific moment, that moment right before the breakdown of a relationship.

Does this stem from personal experience?

Everyone always thinks, "This experience must have just happened to the artist, so that's why they're talking about it." But this is really just an accumulation of having both good and bad relationships, and even in the good moments having those times when you look away from each other. I just think everyone can draw from that.

Is this part of a larger body of work?

I'm working on an EP. The music is ready; we're just ironing out all the wrinkles. I want it to come out as soon as possible. I'm excited to grow the fanbase and start touring more. I'm looking forward to all that.

How did you get into music?

My mom was my piano teacher, and I pretty much learned to hate the piano. I went to a very academically rigorous school. So it all culminated in a massive burnout. I taught myself guitar instead, and it became a real big stress reliever for me.

Did you know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?

At the end of college, I was working in finance and had a job set up with that, and then I took some time off from school, and then one day just didn't go back. I couldn't do that for the rest of my life. So I downloaded Pro Tools on my computer, moved to California, and started interning as an assistant at a record label.

When did things start to change for you?

I started working with an Australian artist named Connor Sewell, and next thing I knew I was in Scott Storch's house. It was a very weird process, but I'm glad it all worked out.

Where do you see pop music heading, and what can you bring to the table?

I mean music, in general, is in a weird but great place. I saw some crazy statistic that 100,000 songs of any sort are globally released on a weekly basis or something like that, and that's crazy. But that's also great, because that means anyone can create a stylistic wave. Personally, I wasn't the big pophead growing up; I used to listen to classic rock. So for me, my influences are going to come from there.

Follow Stephen on Instagram and Twitter.

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.

Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality

Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.

Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

The new Fast & Furious movie is finally coming out and it's probably gonna be the best movie about juiced up men racing juiced up cars yet. If there's one thing I love, it's an exciting illegal street racing movie that, while action-packed, remains fully within the bounds of reality.

Let's check out the trailer.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw - Official Trailer [HD]

Wait. What? Why is Idris Elba a supervillain?

This makes zero sense. Fast & Furious is supposed to be about racing cars and sometimes heists. The villains are tough street punks and drug lords. Not Winter Soldier. If I wanted to see a Winter Soldier movie, I'd watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I'm here to watch fast cars flip through the air and skid up walls, and instead Idris Elba is covering himself in laser beams, bragging, "I'm the peak of human evolution. Look at me punch through a metal door." Where's the realism in that? I'm 80% sure genetic testing hasn't come that far yet, and I'm 100% sure that Idris Elba isn't actually bulletproof.

The Fast & Furious franchise has always been about what's really possible. You know, things like driving your car upside down and Tokyo drifting. Not stupid action movie schlock like jumping out a skyscraper window to punch a guy at mach speed. That is so obviously fake, and there's not way any sane person could take such a ridiculous scene seriously.

For contrast, watch this scene from Furious 7:

Furious 7 (5/10) Movie CLIP - Cars Don't Fly (2015) HD

That's what real street racing is all about―the pure rush of driving your car through multiple buildings, getting hit with a rocket, and rolling out the door just in time to avoid plummeting to your fiery death. A street racing documentary couldn't have been more precise. Now, with this Idris Elba bullshit, they're trying to take that realism away.

Oh, and don't even get me started about the part where The Rock throws a chair into the glass wall. CIA facilities almost always use reinforced glass for top-secret safety reasons. Glass like that is meant to stand up to bullets. The chance that it would shatter on impact with a hurled chair is frankly laughable. Do better.

Of course, if you just want to watch whatever this is instead of a highly realistic racing film, you can see Fast & Furious: Hobbs and Shaw in theaters on July, 26th.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at

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