By Natalie O’Rourke
November 3rd, 2023

N: Congratulations on your debut album. It's been out for like a month now! What's that like? How does it feel?

A: It’s really exciting. I feel like it's just sort of like a huge relief that it's finally out there because I've worked on it for so long. And so it kind of just feels like, (exhale) like it's finally out and I'm just excited for people to see what I've been working on and what I've been going through and what my new sound is. It's a breath of fresh air. Now it's like, you know, getting it out there and hoping that people listen to it. So I feel like it's almost like a different type of stress. I guess it's not like bad at all, but like it's different.

N: And a weird question, but I always like to know about people's albums. Which song on the album did you spend the most time on? Which song existed for like the longest amount of time, or are there any like old, like the several-year deep cuts on there?

A: Yeah, I feel like definitely White Lie was the longest. It's because we went through so many different versions of it, it started off as like a Paramore-type alternative rock song. It had like violins in it… And then we kind of just like 180-d it and made it like this, 808, like hyper pop chill like banger, you know? And so that one existed for a while. It wasn't even supposed to be on the album. It was supposed to be released earlier. But I just was taking so long with it. We ended up putting it on the album.

N: I know it becomes like a little baby at that point. You just keep working on it…

A: Yeah, (laughs) like this is a Toddler!

N: I was looking around at what you've been saying about the album. I'd love to hear more about nobody.

A: So nobody was first featured in my last project. He's this little ghost. And he is from the song If Nobody Likes You if you watch the music video. A little character, a little like teenage boy meets a ghost. Yeah. And it's like his imaginary friend and who he bonds with. And he meets them by a lakeside. I remember when I was, like, making this album, I was writing such personal, intense songs, you know, Bath or Say Sorry to My Brother, and I was like, oh God, I don't want people to think that you're just hearing my story and hearing all about me and hearing all of my stuff. I want them to feel like that it can be about anybody, you know? I really just wanted them to feel like it could be about anybody and feel like they didn't have to think of me because it felt so personal. And so I was like, Well, I want to make a character, but I don't want it to be like a character. I want it to be Nobody, and then I was just kind of like, wait, I really like that idea of like it's a character, but it's not. And nobody can be anybody. But it's also a character but it's also it's weird.

N: It’s like it's being able to just project what you're thinking and feeling like on this like, third party or something. I think that's really interesting.

A: Yeah. So you sort of just became this little ghost and the album it's ordered tells his story. Like, are the things and existing, you know, how it grew up and where he ended up and all that sort of stuff to just be like his origin story and what he went through? The whole idea is that nobody was supposed to be just like a character that has lore and is certain things but at the same time I loved the idea of making it about nobody because it's like, it's about nobody the character… but it's also it's about no one. To me the antagonist's name is anybody and it's supposed to be like, it can be anyone, anything, you know. And so it was supposed to be like this giant metaphor of there being more and there's this character in this little world that I created. But at the same time, it's a metaphor for like this album is about me, but it's not. And I don't want you to listen to it and think of me.

N: Yeah, I guess kind of like from my perspective, it gives your like, listeners, this ability to mold and take the album and really, like, separate and then create their own meaning from it.

A: Yeah. So it's almost like they (the audience) built the character. Like I’ve laid the base and they get to tell me who it is.

N: And I see that. Like, I feel like your fans really resonate with that. They really like the ghost character and they really play into it all, which I think is wonderful.

A: Definitely.

N: And I consider myself like a designer and an artist. And any time I look at like a music album or the things that come alongside the music album, I always wonder about like the art direction and whether that's something like the artist crafted themselves or if they went and like collaborated with someone. So can you give me a little bit of insight and like your art direction for this debut album and like the choices that you made?

A: Yeah, so I definitely worked with a lot of different artists and there's so many that I could never name all of them. But, it was a lot of I had very specific visions and then found people that just understood how to create them. I always knew that, like the album art, I knew I wanted it to kind of look like a portal because I wanted it to almost mimic the high dive on a pool. When you're up there and it feels like the pool is so small and it's supposed to be mimicking that where it's like, you see my feet, but then you only see my reflection in the mirror, you know? And I knew I wanted the title of the album to be like this water bubble font. And so I knew all those specific things, and I knew for quite a while that the album was going to be watery themed just because a lot of stuff that I went through and experienced, like as a kid was like had like a lot of trauma about water and like not being able to swim and a lot of stories around that. When I was writing it, it almost came out naturally and was like, I wrote this song like Bath and Slime and Fish, and it almost (even though I wasn't trying to) made its own theme. I sent so many Pinterest Boards to people and collaborated so much with people. I love to be very, very involved with that aspect because I have a very certain vision and I've had times where I've had to be like, “This is not what I want” so everyone that I worked with and those who were like on the finalized version of things just blew me away.

N: It's so funny. It's like people looking in from the outside, like, don't understand the making of a Pinterest board is half the struggle

A: I was on Pinterest for hours!

N: Yeah, I know. It's like as a designer we have like mood boards to do the next day and I like to be like “My God, I have to work on my mood board tonight.” But like, it really is hard!

A: And they'd be like, “Can you send over a Pinterest board?” where I'd be like, Give me a couple of hours? It was fun. I think I was one of the first artists to get my management into Pinterest.

N: That’s awesome! I noticed that, like, there's this community of artists that kind of stem from YouTube music and like TikTok-type music. You’ve toured with Cavetown and Tessa Violet and I feel like you're really deeply embedded in that community, especially with like Cavetown producing your most recent album. I think it's an interesting shift in the industry starting to have to play toward an algorithm instead of a radio host. And I wonder if you have like any insights on that from like behind the scenes of it all?

A: Yeah, I think I like the Internet age for the reason that it gets people who wouldn’t have had a chance, they get a chance to be heard. I think it's wonderful, you know, someone like me, someone especially like me, would not have had any of the resources to get where I am. I didn't know anyone around me that made music. I didn't know any producers and writers. I didn't know anybody that was taking it seriously. No one in my family played instruments and no one sang. I was like cut out to not do music. I was just so forceful about it and so intense about how much I wanted it. And, you know, I started on Instagram actually, and built it up from there. And I think that was the only reason I got heard because that's what led my manager to finding me and leading me to all these other artists. I think it's a very positive thing.

I think recently there's been a small shift in people only playing to the algorithm and not creating something that they enjoy, and I think that sucks. I don't think you can ever technically make bad art, but I think that you can you, like, owe it to yourself to be better. I think you owe it to yourself to make what you want and what you're passionate about. Or else you're kind of just fooling yourself and so I haven't enjoyed that. Some people treat music leniently. Like they just get a lot of money and decide they want to be a musician, which is completely fine. But I feel like if you're going to make music, you have to actually care about it. You can't just, take up space that other people deserve.

N: Yeah, and like, playing it for the algorithm creates this impression almost, that like, there's a formula.

A: Yeah, Yeah. And I think it's like I'm under the impression that anyone who wants to do music should be able to do it. But if you're going to do it, I think that you should at least be passionate about it. I think if you're doing music and you're not passionate about it, then you're just doing it for money. You're doing the wrong thing. Simply because not a lot of artists make much money (laughs). I think you have to be passionate about it. And so I'm happy that people are getting heard. But it's been unfortunate to see some people treating it badly.

N: I hear you. And I guess on top of that question, is the [internet music] community really as small as it looks?

A: Yeah, I think it's it sort of is. I feel like I found my community in music and they're sort of niche and specific. I noticed that I share a lot of similar audiences with people, but it's so much bigger at the same time, you know, like, I know a lot of people in my area of music, but then all of a sudden there will be this artist that has like millions of listeners that I've never heard of, you know? So it's kind of insane how it works because I like to think that I know a lot of musicians, but I really don't.

N: And what was it like producing with Robbie from Cavetown? Did you, like go to London or stay here…?

A: He's the greatest person I've ever met. I don't know how to just emphasize how kind he is and how talented he is. I sort of feel like in a way, I'm like his son or like his little brother. Like we joked when I left London that he was like sending his son off to college. I think I just sort of realized like, we're under the same management and so we sort of have the same music family, or like the same music dad, I guess (chuckles). But, it's, it was nice because, you know, finding someone so similar to me and someone that I looked up to even before I knew him personally, was a really rewarding thing to have. I think it's just, you know, it was like every single morning, he would go on a run and grab breakfast for us and the cat would enter my room and we'd be drinking tea, and then we would only work for a couple of hours and then play Mario Kart or go ice skating. It's like I've never had someone understand me. So musically before, like I've had a few, but I think that was like the easiest thing I've ever done was produce this with him and to work on this album with him. I think it's just because we were already good friends.

N: I know! It's just so amazing finding [friendships like] that because you can have good friends that you still don't resonate with in that way.

A: Right? But no, I really think like he just immediately understood what I wanted. And any time I had like what I thought was a really weird idea that most producers would shoot down or not even try, he would think it's awesome, you know? I remember in Ghost in the Kitchen, one of the instruments is me cracking my back and he hated it, but he loved it. But he hated it.

It was like he loved the idea of it, but just hated how GROSS It sounded, but it turned out awesome. And, you know, like, when I would tell him, “Hey, I want us to both, like, scream, shut up at this part.” He was like, okay, I'm on board. Like, there was never a time where he ever shot me down artistically. I feel like that is a really rare thing to find. I feel like whenever I talk about him there's no way to overemphasize how incredible he is and how much he deserves to be where he is.

N: That’s amazing. I’ll end this off with the most generic question ever… Who’s inspiring you right now? Like, which artists are on the tour playlist?

A: Yeah. So I am absolutely obsessed with this one artist named Devon Again. I really just adore everything that they do. They were probably the biggest inspiration for the album. Sounds like I added almost their entire album, the inspiration for my album. we work with similar producers, which makes sense as to why I would enjoy the sound so much. But I really love Devon Again. I've always been a really big fan of Phoebe Bridgers and their group Boygenius with Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus as well. Absolutely love them. I'm always inspired by artists I call friends like Brye who is on tour with me inspires me. Madeline inspires me. Like I'm just inspired by the friendship because it's like good people making good music. I loved Chloe Moriondo’s recent Hyperpop album. And of course, I was inspired by Cavetown and I think it's just like the people I call friends, but like there are also people that I want to be friends with because I think they make such good music.

N: You know, I feel you. And I said, that was my last question, but I think you said that last night was Brye's first-ever show. So, how did you get her to come with you on tour?

A: So Brye and I have been friends for about like, I think like two years now, maybe like a year and a half, but we had a virtual writing session. It was the fastest I've ever written a song, and it wasn’t a short song. It was like a four-and-a-half-minute song, I don't know if it's ever getting released. I don't think it's ever fit on a project I've made, but it was just this gorgeous little piece about childhood and growing up and connections with parents and both of us were like, my God, that just filled out so easily because she's such a talented writer and producer. I then visited her a few times in Nashville and just every single time we just bonded over everything. It's genuinely I think I would have been her friend even if I didn't know any music things. I remember telling her like, I’ve had a hard time as an opener a few times or I've had a few hard times on stage and it was really important to me to take people who might be new to touring. I was like, like Young Grasshopper, like, Let's go. You know? I want to mentor people and I told her, like, “If you ever tour, I want you to tour with me. If you ever do, I want to take you.” And she said, like, “if I ever tour, I want to tour with you on tour with you.” And it was almost like a shot in the dark because I didn't know if she was going to say yes or if she was ready. I was like, “Would you please open for me?” And she was like, “Yes, I feel ready.” And then like, it was so funny because she made herself sound like she was so anxious and like it was going to be such a hard thing. And then it was like no nerves, perfect for the perfect guitar, no mess up. And I, like she did better than me I think.

N: Right? The first time on tour, you're almost guaranteed some sort of mess up.

A: I definitely messed up a few times during my set and she was just flawless. I don't know what happened, What possessed her. Just like, of course, you're incredible in everything, you know? But it was definitely the friendship that led to this.

N: And then, I guess just to actually finish it off this time, what do you want like your fanbase to know right now?

A: I want them to know that this album is really important to me and that I think it's sort of my sound that I finally found. And so they can definitely expect a lot more like this album and a lot more style like that. And I want them to know that I'm super psyched about this tour and that I am so sonically in love with every single artist on this tour, and I just hope to keep getting better and I hope that they keep coming out to more shows and I hope that they enjoy my little ghost character.

N: I think they do, I love it. Thank you so much.