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In our interview, Nick Waterhouse said that "Say I Wanna Know" is an incredibly personal song. Although critics laud him for his loud, retro sound, he credits this personal element for the strong emotions the song inspires. "Aesthetics are really important to the song," he said, "but the material is the most important thing." He also named it as one of his two favorite songs he's released so far.
This song is written from a first-person perspective. The narrator is speaking to somebody he's just met, presumably a romantic interest, and openly wonders what they've been through in life - it's an openhearted plea to get to know the deeper side of somebody.
The song is the opening number on Waterhouse's 2012 debut, Times All Gone. While many outlets were impressed with the masterful retro R&B sound featured on the record, Waterhouse disavowed that label. "It's just how I felt and I don't think it sounds like anything specific, which is what's important to me," he said to The Stool Pigeon. "I'm not gonna name, it just play it. The album was just a lot of fun and anguish."
The female vocals on the track are provided by his backup all-woman singing group, The Naturelles.
The song features on a commercial for the Acura ILX.