In the eight months since debuting his first solo single, “Homeland,” Chord Overstreet has added two more original works to his repertoire: a heartstring-tugging single, “Hold On,” and a back-to-basics four song EP titled Tree House Tapes. The former of the two was featured on the series finale of Vampire Diaries in March (soundtracking Stefan’s funeral), which extended the songs’ reach immensely — also marking a neat experience for Overstreet, who was part of another wildly popular television show, Glee, until 2015.
“It was a really cool moment for me. The first time I saw it was at a cast and crew viewing party, and I got to see everybody’s reaction,” Overstreet tells Billboard. “You see it one way, and then you see it a different way when it’s put to a different TV show, obviously, than what your head projects.”
When the 28-year-old initially released the heartfelt piano-based ballad in February, he told Billboard that he wrote the song for “anybody that’s struggling with a hard time,” something that has really resonated with those who’ve heard it — especially after it was part of such an emotional Vampire Diaries scene. After seeing fans connect to the song, Overstreet has since released an acoustic version as well as a remix, delivering the full spectrum of vibes for a pretty deep track.
On Friday (June 23), Overstreet unveiled a music video for the Deepend remix, which shows him at a pool party, fit to the bouncy, whistle-tinged upbeat version. But don’t let the flowing drinks and colorful floaties fool you, as the seemingly cat-and-mouse chase presented is deeper than some flirty game.
Overstreet filled us in about the meaning behind the video, the impact that his time on Glee had on what he’s doing now, and what fans can expect next. Watch the “Hold On (Remix)” video and check out our chat with Overstreet below.
Is there a story you wanted to tell with the music video for the remix?
I wanted to convey what the story was about without really throwing it in your face. Obviously, you’re haunted by your past, regardless of what it is, and this guy kind of thinking he’s seeing this familiar person that he used to know, and then every time he goes to look for her, she’s just not there. And then you kind of see the reality of it flash at the end. I didn’t want to have a whole video of that, and it be this really dramatic, heavy thing. I wanted it to basically pique people’s interest and be like, “oh, what was that?,” and try to interpret it themselves a little bit.
Is that why you waited for the remix of the song to do an official video for it?
Not necessarily. Timing-wise, it was kind of hard to get everything in order to shoot when we did. I also wanted to do a video for the original version, and just have it be exactly what the song is. I think that might be something fun for me to direct, an artistic piece, but I don’t know if I have time for that [Laughs]. When I get a window, I would love to try that. I think the original version lends itself to really getting theatrical with it and focusing in on the details, which would be really cool to see, just my interpretation of that story.
Of the original, acoustic and remix of “Hold On,” which do you personally like most?
I love the acoustic, broken-down version, just because all the emotion is there. You can’t really fake it. The story speaks for itself. The remix is fun, because it’s just up and it’s something you want to listen to and drive around town with. I like them all, they’re just very different ways to hear the song. I like to check out of reality for a little bit when I listen to music and kind of go somewhere, so I feel like the more broken-down acoustic songs tell stories to me the best.
How much of an impact do you think Glee had on who you are as an artist now and how did it help you get to a place where you were ready to show the world what you were all about as a solo artist?
What’s really cool is, they already feel like they have that personal connection with you. Even though they don’t really have a clue who you are as a person, because you’re playing a scripted character — but there’s definitely that familiarity immediately. I will say, man, that show was so instrumental. I learned so much from that, it was basically my college years. I learned how to perform, I got over stage fright, a lot of these insecurities that a lot of people deal with when it comes to singing in front of people. The amount that we worked, it’s like, there’s no better training than just getting up and doing it.
If I’m looking back at me before I was on that show, I became a better singer, I became a better performer, I became more comfortable and more sure of who I am. Those are also 21 to 26 are huge years in your development as a grown-up. You’re going from being a puppy dog at 21 who really has no life experience [Laughs] — I mean, you do, but you have no clue what’s in store.
Whether it’s relationships, whether it’s losing somebody you love, whether it’s getting a little too crazy and wild at a party and having a night you don’t remember. [Laughs] — the fun times, the bad times, the times that stick out in your memory is, as an artist, what you write about. Being able to create a bunch of those great times is really instrumental in writing. I think the great thing about this is it’s just, versus something that’s scripted, I’m writing the script, I’m living it. It’s about as personal as you can get.
Is getting personal one of the things you’re most looking forward to with forthcoming music?
I think the whole game plan is to let people get to know me and my personality. I like to have fun, I like to sing funny songs and goof around, so having people get to know me I think is key, and just expressing myself. I think that as long as you stay true to you when you’re putting out music, somebody’s going to like it.
Seeing your music, how it actually affects people, it just encourages me to stay true to myself and write stories that I relate to and that are real to me, an experience that I’ve had. The specific stories are what make the music unique, and make it yours. I think that’s the real reason why people make music, is to help people, to bring light, bring anything that they can to people’s lives. That’s such a powerful position, because you’re affecting more than one demographic with a story that you can tell — that’s really important to keep going after.