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Joshua Bassett is conscious of his evolution as an artist.
On Friday, the singer and actor released "Feel Something," a follow-up to his recently dropped self-titled EP and an introduction to a different side of the 20-year-old. The track also comes just a week before he's set to return to the small screen with High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
"It's definitely a new sound that I've never done before, that people have not heard from me," the "Lie Lie Lie" singer tells PEOPLE. "It's a teen anthem. It's a culmination of a bunch of different stories of the time in my life where my friends and I just had a blast and went wild and really felt life."
"I think that nowadays, people are very numb, especially with social media," he adds. "I just want to feel something. I feel like I've been numb for so long and just cut myself off, and so that's where the song came from. It's a song that even I still listen to on repeat, and I've done the mixing and mastering and music video for it, and I still want to hear it again, so that's always a good sign."
Pierre Crosby Joshua Bassett
Basset self-directed the track's new music video, which he describes as "just my friends and a camera man running around L.A. having a good time."
"It was cool to be able to lead the way in that and be able to just know what I want, and go for it," he says. "I feel like a lot of times I do know what I want, but I'm just afraid of really going for it. I'm just slowly shedding that fear and being like, 'You know what you want, why wait for anybody else to do that when you can just make it happen?'"
Bassett says he's been "evolving a lot" over the last year during the pandemic and that his fans have seen that growth through his music. "Some people won't put out music while they work on themselves and come back when they're ready. Then there's idiots like me who just shamelessly put out where I'm at," he says with a laugh.
Bassett and his HSMTMTS co-star Olivia Rodrigo have been some of the youngest, most-buzzed-about stars following the release of her track "Drivers License," which many believe is about Bassett. (The two are rumored to have dated.)
Bassett is not focused on all of that though. He's working on finding himself.
"I'm changing every day in so many ways — sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse," he says. "I'm just figuring it all out. Sometimes you've got to embrace that other people get to watch that. Sometimes it's embarrassing, but sometimes you just have to own it."
And he's aware that the commentary and analysis will come with the music. (But it won't stick around for too long.) "I honestly just keep reminding myself that ultimately it's not mine once it's out. Once I give it away to the public, it's no longer mine, so it's none of my concern what people do with it. Whatever it means to people is going to be different for each and every single person," he says.
"I just don't subject myself to a lot of the negative talk, because I just don't want to focus on the negativity. I'd rather focus on the music and the good stuff, and I think, naturally, that's what will go the distance, and the talk will go away."
Pierre Crosby Joshua Bassett
As for HSMTMTS' return to Disney+, Bassett describes the new season as "season one on steroids."
"We're finally all stepping into our power. Each person in this cast is so special. It's not that we weren't before but everyone is really finding themselves and finding their groove in season two," he says.
"Feel Something" is out now.