At 17, Denis Coleman is wiser than most pop stars; ambitious but canny, he is patiently building his songwriter reputation by releasing funny, big pop tunes. He as most savvy Gen Z’ers replace the current lack of human contact with more creative interaction on social media. His latest track ‘Make Friends’ is an anthem for the changing nature of kinship online, and what it means to “put ourselves out there, searching for validation over genuine friendship, and how that can be a pretty unhealthy situation”.


Gen Z is frequently labeled as “the lonely generation”. Was your new single “Make Friends” a reflection on that label? What are your personal thoughts on that?

We are a lonely generation. Absolutely. Sure, it doesn’t apply to everyone and it doesn’t mean we’re lonely all the time, but I really do feel that we are different from the previous generations. Social media and the internet are incredible gifts our generation has been given. But you can’t stay hydrated on virtual water. You can’t be nourished by virtual food. At the end of the day, virtual friendship isn’t enough. Sometimes I meet incredible people online, and I know a lot of my fans have made some of their best friends online. These people have become an important part of my life and the lives of many other people from Gen Z. But that interaction is not sufficient. It’s not enough to talk to people online and send snaps and DM’s. It’s virtual reality. It’s virtual reality just like the virtual reality shared by the insta-influencers we follow, so perfect and lifeless, which only adds to the issue. The sugar coating hiding their less perfect, often very far from perfect, true lives is what we compare ourselves to, consciously or subconsciously. And we just feel more alone.


You’ve been vocal on social media about the faults in our current system. From your experience are schools doing good work addressing these faults?

In all honesty, it really depends on the school. For the most part, I’ve been truly inspired by the incredible teachers and kids I’ve come into contact with, who were often making the best of difficult situations and limited resources. Occasionally, however, I would be shocked at the way a school might treat their students and the oppressive atmosphere present. Still, I believe in our teachers! The teachers I know are loving and inspiring and I hope that it will be those types of teachers who take the lead on these issues within their schools because I know that they can make a difference.


I saw you’ve been dropping various covers during quarantine. How did that period influence your creativity in general? 

In two ways really. On the one hand, I now have a lot more time than before. If not for lockdown I would have been on a tour bus in Europe most of the past few months, cramming in my AP classes at every dressing room. Due to COVID, I’ve managed to work on new music and develop who I am as a musician a lot more, as well as be able to chill out when it came to studying for my tests haha! However, I’m someone who likes to take inspiration from daily life, my friends, and the people close to me. So in that way, I felt like I’ve been a bit restricted. However, I’ve been looking for new sources of inspiration, and I’ve found it in books, TV, and even in my crazy mind, which comes up with a whole lot of BS but the occasional gem.


What can we expect from your debut EP coming out this Summer?

In a way, it’s kind of like the duplicity in social media I mentioned earlier. At first glance, it’s full of fun, big pop tunes. The kind of songs to blast on a long drive or turn up at a party. But when you listen closely it’s a lot more complicated and imperfect, lyrically and sonically. It includes some of the first tracks I’ve ever co-produced, and I’ve tried to innovate and experiment with my sound in every track. Lyrically, I’m sharing my thoughts and vulnerabilities. My generation is growing up in a world that changes every single day. I’m just trying to puzzle my way through, and hopefully help some of my listeners solve their own puzzles, or at the very least distract them with some new ones.


Watch Denis Coleman latest single ‘Make Friends’ below: