With his self-titled debut solo album now available, Margolnick—known to friends and loved ones as Drake Margolnick—is looking towards the future. After spending years with his band Flagship, the singer-songwriter has taken a much more personal approach to his music, one that includes reconnecting with his roots while simultaneously giving in to his poppier tendencies.
I recently sat down with Margolnick to discuss the two Ps (patience and perseverance), going cold on cool, and the lessons learned along the way.
AH: You are just a few days away from dropping your debut solo album on the masses. As far as accomplishments go, where does this rank on your personal timeline?
Margolnick: Yessir, I sure am, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about this release. Every album or EP that I’ve been a part of holds a special place in my heart, because they’re all moments of my life captured forever in those recordings. This debut solo album has been, by far, the most challenging and therefore rewarding album to conceive and release into the ether. I started the thing in the fall of 2018 and finished it at the start of the pandemic in 2020… and it’s just now coming out. Needless to say, it’s been a grand test in patience and perseverance. I quit drinking in the middle of creating this album and you can hear the shift that was happening in me as we went along. Most of it was written in London and half of it was recorded there as well, which makes this one extra special to me seeing as I was born in England on RAF Lakenheath Air Force base… a connection to my roots that I felt was necessary and I think that comes through. So, yes, this album is quite special to me indeed.
AH: What was the process like going from making albums with a band to making them on your own? Was it creatively isolating, or did you find it freeing?
Margolnick: To be honest it wasn’t on my mind all that much as I am the kind of person who is very in the moment most times. Thinking back on it now, there are certainly aspects of the band that I missed. I missed the familiarity of it, the family of it, the laughs. But on the other hand, I was forced out of my comfort zone and was made to become familiar with new creators, a new family… and the laughs were there. Many, many goods times in the process of making this album. At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to this massive change I’ve made, from being in Flagship my whole life to being solo. In truth, there were so may iterations of Flagship, the change wasn’t all that jarring. I do, without a doubt, miss my brothers and always will, but the band had run its course, at least for now.
AH: Did you intentionally set out to have your solo songwriting be a departure from your Flagship days or did you let the songs go where inspiration struck?
Margolnick: This album was all about giving into my pop tendencies—tendencies I used to balance in Flagship. I was more cryptic in Flagship and just very focused on the artistry alone. With this album, I wanted to stop the balancing act and finally give in. I wanted to write a pop album with integrity…songs that I’m still very much proud of, still artful, but ambitious and less focused on what is “cool.”
AH: Did this musical reinvention lead to a personal reinvention? Is the Drake of 2022 a much different person than the Drake of 2018?
Margolnick: Absolutely, this has been the most transformative few years of my entire life. It’s been painful, grueling, and has tested my every limit. I’ve been single through it all because I knew that I needed to become a complete person and I knew how far from that I was. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time ever again. It was lonely and there was much loss and many setbacks, as it was for many people throughout this pandemic. Music got hit so very hard, and I took it really bad. Luckily, after going through the absolute fire I can say now that I genuinely feel more complete and that I’m entering into a beautiful and prosperous stage in my life. (Knock on wood.) Come what may, I know that my mindset has changed a great deal and that’s what is most important to me through it all. I’ve finally found peace through the good and the bad…and man do I wish I had learned that little trick earlier. Protect your peace. I can only hope that I’ll continue to get better each day.
AH: Speaking of past Drake, what would the Drake who first picked up a guitar think of this self-titled debut? Would he be surprised?
Margolnick: Ah man, I think that 17-year-old little shit would be thrilled with the music that I’ve been a part of—real legacy in terms of songs made—especially this album. I also think he’d ask me how in the world are we still broke?! “All these songs and you still haven’t secured the bag?” (Laughter) I’d tell him that money and fame ain’t what this is about and it took us a long time to learn that this thing is all about connecting with other human beings on a real and meaningful level. But hey, we got there. The money may still yet come.
AH: What are you most proud of with the album and why?
Margolnick: Man, it’s tough to narrow it down. There were so many wonderful people involved and so much time went by from start to release. I think I’m most proud to have made it through the personal hell that I was in when I wanted to give up and never release the album. I’m proud to have made it as an active artist to the release date.
AH: Why write and perform under Margolnick and not your full name? What drew you to this shortened moniker as an identity for your solo work?
Margolnick: That’s a good question. It goes way back to when my solo EPs were just something I did for fun. I knew if I used Drake there would always be people asking me if I copied Drake’s name despite the fact that I’ve been called Drake since birth—and longer than Drizzy. I knew that no one else on the planet would have my last name as there aren’t many of us. (Great for searching.) I know it’s a doozy of a name and I have questioned the decision at times, but in my mind, I wanted to succeed in spite of the name. What’s in a name? The art, in my mind, will do the talking.
AH: You will also be releasing the record on vinyl, which got me to thinking, what are the ideal listening conditions for taking in the album? If you could envision the best way for people to absorb the songwriting, what would that be?
Margolnick: Well, I do love the warm quality of the vinyl and we have put together a beautiful package for this vinyl. I just got mine today and I’m thrilled with it. In reality, I recognize that most people will be listening on a streaming platform, and in that case, I’d like to think they’re in the headphones and not on iPhone speakers or a desktop’s speakers.
AH: Tell us about the artwork of the album. Who created the portrait and where did the idea originate?
Margolnick: Yes! I am so thrilled with how the painting turned out. Some people might find it interesting to know that my ex-girlfriend from way back painted this for me. Her name is Alexandra Loesser Schoen. We’ve been lucky enough to remain friends and I couldn’t be happier for her. She has her own family and it’s just cool. She is extremely talented. I had her add the fur coat to the painting, which wasn’t in the reference photo because it’s something I’ve featured at several points in my career. I just love the aesthetic of a big ol’ fur coat.
AH: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Margolnick: No, sir, I would not take that opportunity for a second. Life is about existing in the now for me and I would get lost in the certainty of what’s to come. I would assuredly go mad. I would miss the great unknown, which is what this career has been all about for me. Since day one I have jumped in and I haven’t compromised on this wildly ridiculous pursuit of making a living as an entertainer. The unknown is what keeps me interested, it’s what keeps me believing that I might somehow catch this whale.
To keep track of Margolnick’s pursuit of the whale, visit www.margolnick.com.