Loss, Closure, and Intimacy: Dwelling in Tia Gostelow’s “Hey Friends”

Tia Gostelow © 2018
Breathtakingly dark, grungy, and vulnerable, Tia Gostelow’s intimate “Hey Friends” captures the drained energy and intense emotion of coping with loss.

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Loss is a natural part of life, but that doesn’t make coping any easier. Time stops for the individual, but life stops for no one – meaning we may find ourselves mourning a relationship or grieving a death while the rest of the world continues to revolve around us, going about business as usual. Dark and grungy, Tia Gostelow’s intimate new song “Hey Friends” captures the drained energy and intense emotion of coping with loss. In embracing grief with such passion, it’s the perfect song for those seeking closure and catharsis.

Hey my friends we messed it up again
We had the whole idea
flipped it on its head
we had it all, all
The feeling that we wanna
have it all but now the sun
Has set its time to go home
It’s on, it’s on, it’s on
Listen: “Hey Friends” – Tia Gostelow

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Hey Friends,” the latest single off Tia Gostelow’s upcoming debut album, THICK SKIN (out September 21, 2018 via AntiFragile Music). With a remarkably distinct artistic voice characterized by breathtaking lyrics and equally powerful music, eighteen-year-old Tia Gostelow is quickly establishing herself as a favorite artist to watch around the world. Her debut EP Status Anxiety (February 2018) served as an important introduction for the Australian indie folk singer/songwriter, while also promising great things to come.

THICK SKIN - Tia Gostelow

THICK SKIN – Tia Gostelow

Less than six months later, that promise has been fulfilled. Tia Gostelow’s latest singles “Strangers” and “Hey Friends” reveal a musical acuity and emotional maturity that are well beyond that of the average young adult or teenage artist. “Strangers,” an infectiously vibing song Gostelow co-wrote and recorded with Melbourne-based LANKS, observes love with both intimacy and detachment: “The sea grew old while we passed by; we dragged our summer through the winter skies,” she sings in the verse, going on to engulf herself and listeners in romance through a hauntingly moving chorus: “Sit awhile, watch the moon sink lightly into your glow. With the lights up, two bodies were afloat, we were strangers wandering home.

Whereas “Strangers” indulges in love, “Hey Friends” unapologetically dwells in sadness and melancholy. Triggered by a gritty, grungy guitar and a heavy, pounding backbeat, the track invites us to embrace the looming darkness – to revel in uncomfortable feelings not because we want to, but because we have to.

Hey Friends - Tia Gostelow

Hey Friends – Tia Gostelow

Party every day, but sick of having fun
Party every day, but sick of having fun
Try to be yourself; I’ll try to be myself
And party every day

“I think we all need to appreciate that people have stuff going on in their lives, and maybe we need to give them a minute and ask if they’re okay,” Tia Gostelow tells Atwood Magazine.

“Hey Friends” is the song you sing when you’re feeling down, and want to lean into the sadness. A dark anthem, it finds Tia Gostelow recognizing her emotions and fully surrendering herself to them: “Party every day, but sick of having fun,” she sings in the intoxicating chorus, “Try to be yourself; I’ll try to be myself.” Truth and vulnerability drip from her words like raindrops from a cloud: She is fully submerged in the sensation, and we can, be too.

Hey my friends I hear you’re sick of it again
The time has come for us to witness this again
They had to fall, fall
The feeling of the far from ships have sailed from
East to west to find a reason to call
It’s on, it’s on, it’s on

“Hey Friends” is dramatic and dark, but nonetheless catchy. Tia Gostelow asserts herself with breathtaking force on this powerful song, coping with loss while longing for closure of her own: “I don’t think I can feel content or at peace with something if I haven’t written about it,” she reflects.

Thus, we can understand “Hey Friends” as the artist’s own intimate journey through turmoil, as well as a template through which we may manage our own inner tension, stress, and emotional disarray. Mesmerizing, moody, and altogether brilliant, Tia Gostelow has once again exceeded all expectations, and is sure to continue upon what could surely be a meteoric rise through the Australian and North American independent music worlds.

Tia Gostelow’s debut album THICK SKIN comes out September 21, 2018 on AntiFragile Music. Dive deeper into “Hey Friends” with our interview below, and stream the artist’s brand new single ahead of its worldwide release, exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Tia Gostelow © 2018

A CONVERSATION WITH TIA GOSTELOW

Atwood Magazine: The entrance to “Hey Friends” is itself an experience. Can you talk about how you build up to your vocal entrance and why you wanted to set such a pulsing, intense tone?

Tia Gostelow: I didn’t try to set that tone at all I guess. This song is really different for me to sing though, I don’t have another song like it and for me it’s almost spoken and I guess it allows me to express this song in a way I can’t with any other.

“Hey Friends” has an almost grunge feel to it. What inspired this musically dramatic feeling?

Gostelow: This song was co-written with a lovely man that goes by the name Alex Henriksson, and this was the first song we ever wrote together. We didn’t plan to go in and write a particular song, this is just what came out of the session I guess. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of the song to start with because it was so different to my previous music, but once I listened to it a few times I fell in love with it.

Hey my friends, we messed it up again,” you sing at the song's start, ending the verse with, “the feeling that we wanna have it all, but now the sun has set, it’s time to go home.” There’s a sense of longing; of loss; of dwelling in darkness. Can you elaborate on this story you craft?

Gostelow: For me, this song is about losing some really close friends when I was younger. Throughout all of high school I guess I’d struggled to make a close group of friends, I had always been friends with a lot of people but I never really had one or two best friends like most other girls did, and for some reason it was a big issue for me. I would become close with people and drift away from them all the time and I don’t know why, but there were a few friendships that ended towards the end of high school that were really painful for me, and I think without me knowing, “Hey Friends” became a song about those lost friendships.

Your voice is intimately close-miked, yet there’s this distance about your words - as if you’re singing from above, rather than within. How did you attempt to remove yourself from such immensely personal, emotional lyrics?

Gostelow: Well at the time I don’t think the real meaning of the song had clicked with me yet, so I don’t think it was hard at all to remove myself from any feelings. Now that I know how it connects to me, I think it affects me more than it would have before.

Party every day, but sick of having fun.” What does the chorus’ refrain mean to you?

Gostelow: I think for me it’s a phrase that can be taken in many directions, but for me it was more of the idea of like, not everyone that you are around is having the best time, people have bad days and people have good days and I think we all need to appreciate that people have stuff going on in their lives, and maybe we need to give them a minute and ask if they’re okay.

Try and be yourself; I try to be myself,” we hear in the chorus’ second half. How does “being yourself” factor into the message of dealing with loss in “Hey Friends”?

Gostelow: Music was my job in school. I played in pubs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to make my money from when I was 12 to 17, and that meant I missed out on a bit of ‘teenage things’ like parties and social stuff, and I think it was weird for people my age to see that I was so committed to something that wasn’t as common as weekend sports or having a normal part-time job. It did sometimes make me feel a little out of the loop or disconnected with what everyone else was doing,  so there were times where I wanted to stop doing music altogether.

How have you found writing about loss impacts your experience of loss?

Gostelow: I think it’s allowed me to express my feelings; I don’t think I can feel content or at peace with something if I haven’t written about it.

How do you hope those who’ve felt a recent loss might hear this song? What do you hope they gain from it, if anything?

Gostelow: I hope this song allows some closure or comfort more than anything. It’s nice to listen to music and be able to find peace or any kind of understanding in it, so if “Hey Friends” does that for anyone, my job is done I think.

Similarly, what songs do you listen to when you’re feeling down particularly? Do you find you lean on sad songs in dark times, or do you embed yourself in happy songs?

Gostelow: I don’t think I tend to lean towards extremely sad music when I’m feeling sad or down I guess.  The music I listen to would calm me down more than anything — I usually listen to bands such as Beach House, Cigarettes After Sex, Julia Jacklin: Bands that I can just sit and listen to the lyrics and the melodies, without feeling like there’s too much going on.

If you do have a dark times playlist I’d love to understand more about that - the influence and importance of darker songs like “Hey Friends”?

Gostelow: I don’t actually have one; maybe I need to start putting one together.

The chorus is particularly expressive and emphatic, with guitars on full crunch as you wail into the microphone. What was the experience like recording this song?

Gostelow: It was really cool. I always love going into the studio with my band, it is always my favourite part of the process. This song in particular took a while though I think because of everything going on in the background and making sure we got it perfect.

You titled this song, “Hey Friends.” Why?

Gostelow: I think when you first look at it, you are so unsure about what it could be about. I don’t think that people will envision this song to be what it is, and I like that.

How if at all do you feel writing and recording this song has helped you grow as an artist?

Gostelow: It’s made me more open to different ideas I think. If I hadn’t written this with Alex or listened to it a thousand times I don’t think I would have recorded this because it was so far out of my comfort zone. It has for sure made me a much better songwriter and artist.

Listen: “Hey Friends” – Tia Gostelow

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Hey Friends - Tia Gostelow

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com