From the first notes of “Coast,” Hailee Steinfeld‘s latest single, we are beachside, beer in hand, with waves crashing distantly ahead, the golden sun slowly inching toward the horizon. It could be Malibu, or it could be any other location that this feeling calls to mind. Though for Steinfeld, who was born and raised in Southern California, it almost certainly is Los Angeles, the song a conduit for the nostalgic, delightfully chill energy of the west coast.
It wasn’t enough for Steinfeld to take “Coast” solo; she brought along fellow SoCal extraordinaire Anderson .Paak to give the song yet another dopamine boost, and Paak, as always, delivers. But “Coast” definitely marks a new era for the singer, songwriter, and A-list actress. After her second EP, Half Written Story, came out in May 2020 — her first release since her 2015 debut — Steinfeld knew it was time to change things up from the EP’s vulnerable, heart-on-her-sleeve approach.
“I didn’t want to live in that space anymore of feeling confused, sad, frustrated and, you know, maybe a little angry,” she tells Consequence. “I wanted to feel good, I did feel good. And I wanted to make music that felt good.”
In between releasing Half Written Story in 2020 and “Coast” back in July, Steinfeld kept busy with her various TV and film projects — perhaps most notably her role in Disney+’s Hawkeye series, where she plays the smart, athletic, and hilarious archer Kate Bishop. But in all the various cinematic worlds that Steinfeld finds herself in, she’s the most eager to explore her own. “Coast” is set to be the lead single for what Steinfeld calls a new “body of work,” a new collection of music that she constructed throughout the pandemic with esteemed producer Koz, known for his work on Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia.
Though “Coast” was initially recorded in Steinfeld’s makeshift studio in her Los Angeles home, she took the song to EastWest Studios to re-record it, and ended up working in the same room that The Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds in. “I would just sit there and think ‘what the hell was Brian Wilson saying to everybody in this moment, right now? What were they talking about? What were they fighting about?’,” says Steinfeld. The Beach Boys and their California jams certainly loom large in Steinfeld’s new project, and their signature idyllic energy is exactly what she’s looking to recreate.
Consequence recently sat down with Hailee Steinfeld to discuss “Coast,” writing and recording new music during the pandemic, her sonic inspirations, and what this new direction means for her music. Check out the full Q&A below.