Keeping Busy during Quarantine
Ohio-based indie rock artist Lincoln has been gaining significant traction with his viral TikTok sound from the song “Saint Bernard.” Originally released in 2017, the track has now amassed over 22.5 million streams on Spotify, while the sound on TikTok has been used in over 127.4k videos. We caught up with Lincoln to discuss internet virality, musical growth, and the story behind the visually captivating music video for the hit song.
Life During Quarantine
Lexi Matuson: How have you been occupying your time during quarantine? Are you managing well?
Lincoln: I’m actually doing pretty good. To be honest, it hasn’t been much of a change for me. I’m a bit of a homebody, so when everything started to get crazy and people were freaking out, I understood what was happening but it didn’t feel all that different for me. So, yeah, I’m doing well.
LM: Yeah, I totally get that. So, when did you first realize that your song had gone viral? How did it feel to witness that?
Lincoln: It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment. When it first came out in early 2017, it was already performing better than anything I had done before, so I was already pretty happy. Seeing it gradually grow over time was a fun experience, but there was never a defining moment where I felt like I had “made it.” However, I’m definitely more comfortable now compared to before.
LM: Was it strange to scroll through your TikTok For You Page and suddenly recognize your own voice and song?
Lincoln: (Laughs) Yeah, it was definitely a little weird when it started happening. I wasn’t really active on TikTok, but my significant other was always on it. I started noticing my song being used by a few people, then more and more, until it reached a point where it became less common.
LM: (Laughs) So, I heard that you used to do covers on YouTube. Is it kind of cool now that your own song is being covered by others?
Lincoln: Oh, absolutely. I love watching those covers. Those kids might become really talented someday.
Artistic Influences and the Trippy “Saint Bernard” Video
LM: That’s great! So, who are your artistic influences? Both in terms of music and your visually unique style. I remember watching the abstract and fascinating music video for “Saint Bernard.”
Lincoln: For this particular record, my influences were bands like Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor, and Front Bottoms. They were part of the emo revival scene, which I still appreciate even though I don’t listen to it as much anymore. As for the video, it came about when “Saint Bernard” started gaining popularity. My label, I Surrender Records, approached me with the idea of creating a unique video for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I agreed, and they connected me with a talented filmmaker who brought the trippy concept to life. I found the whole druggy vibe of the video really appealing.
LM: That’s awesome! Do you have a favorite lyric from “Saint Bernard” or any other songs you’ve written?
Lincoln: I would say the last verse of “Saint Bernard” is my favorite. The rest of the record, aside from that particular lyric, was quite challenging to create. But that line came to me effortlessly, and I think it’s the strongest lyric on the whole album. I almost feel like it appeared out of nowhere.
The Different Versions of “Saint Bernard”
LM: You have three different versions of your song “Saint Bernard.” Can you explain what each version means to you and why you decided to release all three?
Lincoln: Let’s go in reverse. The decision to release three versions came about because of the success of the song. We thought we could capitalize on it and explore some new ideas. The first version was the last song I wrote for the album. I was in college, sitting alone in my car in a campus parking garage at 3 AM when inspiration struck. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but Rob, the person in charge of my label, insisted on including it on the album. And the rest, as they say, is history.
LM: Big shoutout to Rob!
Lincoln: Absolutely! Now, the Sam Means version came about because I had covered a song from Sam Means’ solo EP. Gabby, someone at the label who happened to be friends with Sam, stumbled upon my cover when Sam retweeted it. That’s how they discovered me. At that point, I had barely any following, with Rob and Gabby being my eleventh and twelfth YouTube subscribers.
Lincoln: Gabby thought it would be cool to incorporate the cover as a way to tell the story of how they found me and how the record came to be. Sam Means graciously said yes, and his remix became a part of it all. As for “Saint Bernard 2,” it was another idea from the label. They suggested I re-record the song. Since I no longer connect with the emotions I felt when I initially wrote it, it was a bit strange for me to sing those songs again. So, I approached the re-recording in a way that resonated with my current artistic direction, resulting in “Saint Bernard 2.”
LM: It sounds like quite a journey, a truly powerful one.
Lincoln: Yeah, it really is.
Looking Forward to Live Music and Future Projects
LM: We’re all missing live music right now. Personally, I can’t wait to be in a sweaty basement, surrounded by a crowd, and enjoying the experience together. How about you? Which artist are you most excited to see when live music returns?
Lincoln: (Laughs) Oh man, this answer might get me in a bit of hot water, but I’m absolutely obsessed with Father John Misty. I would love to see him perform live.
LM: What is it about him that makes you feel like it’s a must-see live experience?
Lincoln: Most of the shows I’ve been to, most of the music I’ve loved throughout my life, has been rock and roll. However, there’s something about the lushness of Father John Misty’s arrangements, his incredible band, and his songs that completely captivate me. I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like his live performance could be pure magic.
LM: Well, I genuinely hope you get to experience that.
Lincoln: Thank you.
LM: Just one final question: What’s next for you? Are there any projects you’re currently working on or excited about?
Lincoln: Absolutely! I’ve been working on a new album for quite some time now. I started writing it even before my last EP came out, so it’s been brewing for a while. I’ll be heading into the studio in January to record it, using the same studio as before.
LM: Well, I’m definitely looking forward to that album, and I’m sure our readers are too!
You can stream “Saint Bernard” below.