Black and White
"Black and White" came to me during my minimalist vs maximalist phase. I was struggling with the idea of honing in on one thing (music) when I had all these other artistic interests I wanted to explore. Do I trust the process of fully investing in my music career or do I take the pressure off and explore other avenues? Black and White is a light and introspective glance into these thoughts - a perfect album opener!
I wrote "Ohio" in my Chicago apartment after listening to Phoebe Bridgers' “Garden Song" on repeat for several days. The nostalgic Phoebe-inspired stream of consciousness flowed out of me like water in about 30 minutes. I was aiming for a Midwest emo folk feel; digging deep into my teenage experiences growing up in the suburbs of Ohio. Ohio is simultaneously a mundane and haunted place to grow up so I wanted the song to feel both drone-y and eerie.
When I listen to “Mirror” now, it feels so heart-wrenching. I wrote it during a time I was struggling in my romantic relationship because of my depression. I have a tendency to isolate myself and feel like no one understands me. If there’s an ebb in my relationships, I tend to catastrophize them. “Mirror” reflects (no pun intended) this tragic loop I throw myself into.
“Stalker” is my spooky/jazzy-pop, Billie Eilish-meets-Lianne La Havas anthem for anxiety and depression. I took the idea of being “stalked” by fear and melancholy and ran with it. When I first played my demo of “Stalker” to Sam, he was so amped to flesh it out and I think we came up with something really special and unique for this track.
I came up with this instrumental during a guitar intensive I took a couple of years ago. I’ve always loved instrumental music and wanted to challenge myself to write a guitar piece a la “Real Book” jazz tunes. In college, I had to perform jazz standards on guitar during our midterm assessments. My guitar skills grew exponentially as I prepared these tunes and since then I have been incorporating these chops into my songwriting. “Dysthymia” is a melancholic piece and I was initially going to name my album “Dysthymia” because it’s a beautiful name for such a specific kind of depression.
Charis Song (Gratitude Song)
Charis Song came out of me in about half an hour as I sat at my kitchen table finger-picking my boyfriend’s red Guild acoustic. A few weeks prior, Charis had sent me a package that arrived on the exact day of my birthday. She had filled it with notes from all my friends, poetry, and miscellaneous self-care goodies. It brought me to tears and during this kitchen moment with the Guild guitar, I wrote a verse dedicated to a specific person I was grateful for. Charis, my friend Signe, and my partner Van. “Charis Song” is simply a song of gratitude.
Friend Like You
Inspired by Taylor Swift’s “Betty” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”, I wanted to write a simple country-folk tune about the loss of a friendship. My high school best friend and I met at a summer camp in Michigan and we were like kindred spirits. When we moved away to college, we drifted apart.
My family used to vacation every summer at a lake in Northern Michigan. As a child, I used to get hard-core post-vacation blues when we drove back to Ohio at the end of the week. Every now and then I get really nostalgic for the picturesque, carefree time I spent up North with my family and friends.
Tucson With Holly
“Tucson With Holly” is another instrumental I wrote during my guitar intensive program. This melody felt more light and dreamy to me so I decided to name it after the times I spent with my sister, Holly in Tucson. Some of my best memories exist in the pockets of time I spent exploring cities and laughing with my sister.
“Electric Blue” explores the unrealistic expectations and fantasies I tend to project onto my relationships with others. I can be easily under-stimulated and can act out in a way that’s harmful to myself and others. I hint at the “pretty boy” trope in the first verse because sometimes I feel like the bad boy in my romantic relationships.
My life changed when I listened to Kacey Musgrave’s “Golden Hour” in 2018. I love how Kacey revolutionized the pop-country scene by infusing dreamy, psychedelic elements into her songs. “Slow Burn” always spoke to me because I tend to feel like the world moves too quickly for me to keep up. I knew I had to cover this song and I thought our rendition would be the perfect penultimate track to the record.
Creatures in the Room
I had almost wrapped up the album tracklist and was set on the name “Dysthymia” when this tune flew out of me. I had hit a low point and decided to use the metaphor of “creatures in the room” to explain all the thoughts running around in my head; both toxic and wonderful. I wanted to reference all of the “simple” things I could be instead of a deep thinker and driven artist. Occasionally, I’ll feel so bogged down by my own thoughts that I have nothing to say anymore. “Creatures in the Room” felt like an obvious title track and album finale.