If you’ve even cursorily scrolled TikTok over the past few months, odds are you’ve come across “If I Were A Fish.” Nashville-based singer-songwriter Corinne Savage (professionally known as Corook) wrote the viral tune’s chorus with their girlfriend, fellow musician Olivia Barton, after a series of hate comments left Corook in tears. Barton’s retort? Shrug off outside critics and spend 10 minutes coming up with the weirdest song they possibly could.

The song’s resulting chorus is an infectiously joyous, Moldy Peaches-esque ditty that wouldn’t be out of place on a 2000s indie charmer’s soundtrack. With over 8 million streams on Spotify, “If I Were A Fish” marks an exciting milestone in the 28-year-old’s burgeoning career. Their latest EP, Serious Person, is named for their 2022 single of the same name.

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“Nobody really talks about this time period of feeling like you’re a kid but expected to be an adult,” Corook says. “I am able to take care of myself, but I’m still such a kid at heart, and I think that shows in a lot of my music.”

Ahead of Serious Person’s release, AP spoke to the rising star about their inspirations, their upcoming solo headlining shows, and why they’re not interested in writing the same old love songs.

How did you decide to incorporate “Serious Person” not just as a song, but as the title of this EP?

That song feels like so much of what I’ve been trying to talk about, which is how weird I feel that I’m an adult, that I have to pay bills, and that I have to take care of myself. Serious Person felt like the exact right title. It’s a little bit sarcastic because I’m obviously not a very serious person. I am able to take care of myself, but I’m just such a kid at heart, and I think that shows in a lot of my music and shit. I grew up watching MTV, where your 20s were romanticized. You were on a reality TV show, and you lived [in] a house with your friends on the beach. That was the entire idea of my 20s that I had. I have yet to go to a beach house with my friends, so it’s been confusing. [Laughs.]

What artists have helped influence your sound?

I’ve tried to listen to more serious artists and serious music while still keeping my voice. I’ve been listening to a lot of Dolly Parton. Her ability to tell a story about something really heartbreaking, but it sounding fluttery and light has been really inspiring for me. Like, “Jolene” goes hard. That’s a sad song. I just love storytelling, and I wanted that to be at the forefront of this album and this EP.

How would you define a serious artist?

I’m making fun of the word “serious” by saying that. I think that a lot of serious artists nowadays are people that don’t take themselves so seriously. I would reference Tyler, the Creator and [Tierra] Whack. They’re so themselves. I would call them serious artists. But when I’m talking about that in that landscape of inspiring the serious side of the album, I would say more serious songwriters like Sara Bareilles or Dolly Parton or Billy Joel. That kind of world where you think of a singer-songwriter, and you’re like, “They’ve painted a world.”

How has your relationship with social media changed given the viral success of “If I Were A Fish” and “It’s OK”?

I think nowadays, you have to be on social media in order to get your stuff heard. [It’s] wonderful in some ways, based on the sheer volume of people you’re able to reach, and if you’re put into the right pages, the community you’re able to build is really sweet and wonderful. 

That’s something I learned from “If I Were A Fish.” The sheer volume of kind, sweet, healing people was really cool for me to see. It’s been really wonderful running into people that this song has touched. I am in the vicinity of people that feel similarly to me, that have felt out of place, and are doing the work to heal themselves and accept themselves.

Obviously, with the volume of good comments going up, the bad comments go up as well. That’s definitely something I haven’t gotten used to just yet. I recently started a Discord group, which has been wonderful. It’s a small group of people that wanna talk about music and like what I’m doing. I have rules around it, and I’m able to just express myself in a way that I’m not able to so publicly on Instagram or TikTok.

The warmth of songs like “If I Were A Fish” and your “adult lullaby” “It’s OK!” bring the idea of healing your inner child to mind for me. Is that on your mind when you’re making music?

Yes. I personally do a lot of inner child work within therapy, so thinking about younger versions of myself is something that happens pretty regularly. I think that thinking about our younger selves is really important, just because they’re what made us who we are today, you know? It’s important for me to honor that little kid who maybe didn’t get exactly what they needed. And I think about that a lot with what I’m doing on social media, what I’m doing as an artist. Just trying to be what I needed as a kid.

I loved the song “Natalie” in particular and how it evokes having a sweet childhood gay crush, at an age where so many of us didn’t know queer joy existed.

While it might be a lighter topic, it feels so vulnerable to write about that time in my life, when I was that young and knew I was different, and so badly wanted to be able to sing a song like “Natalie” in second grade, to the girl that I liked. It feels almost like I’m getting to redo it, redo that time in my life, because back then, I was in the closet. Now I’m not, and I get to express what I was feeling.

Tracks like “CGI” and bits of “Serious Person” touch on being in a relationship for a while, which is often glossed over in love songs. Why was that important to include?

When I think about love songs, I’m often very underwhelmed by love songs and their repetitiveness, and I think a lot of people can relate to that. I don’t think there are many love songs about long-term relationships where I’m not totally married yet, and I’m not totally out of the honeymoon phase, but I’m also really used to you. And I’m comfortable. And I don’t feel like I have to fight for you anymore, but I want to. It’s 2023. I don’t need to say, “I want you forever, baby.” That’s been said a million times.

You’re about to headline shows for the first time! What can you tease about those performances?

These will be the first shows that I’ve played as Corook solo. I’m not gonna bring my band. It’s just gonna be me and whatever instrument I choose to pick up. I’m really nervous because I’m so used to playing with my band, and I think it will be really special because of that. It’ll be just me with nothing to fall back on. This EP really makes me feel a bit more naked, and so I feel like the shows around it need to feel that way, too.