Premiere: The Tragic Cry of Upstairs Open’s Feelgood “Silence”

Upstairs Open © 2018
British duo Upstairs Open blend darkness with light in their new single “Silence,” a brutally raw but sonically rich song of sacrifice, settling, and surrender.

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Loneliness is overpriced…

How far are you willing to “fake it” until you “make it”? To what lengths are you willing to go for happiness, love, or stability? Will you marry someone despite not reciprocating their feelings? Will you settle for a life you didn’t want, in exchange for opportunities you’d otherwise never have? How much will you sacrifice to “live in a lie“? Upstairs Open blend darkness with light in their new single “Silence,” a brutally raw but sonically rich song of sacrifice, settling, and surrender.

I’ve been holding out for love
Every time I’m lost in desire
Even when we built a home
Couldn’t find the fuel in the fire
:: purchase/stream “Silence” here ::
Stream: “Silence” – Upstairs Open


Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Silence,” the third single from emerging indie pop band Upstairs Open. The London-based duo of Courtney Paynter and Daniel James, Upstairs Open debuted late last year with an “You Got Love,” an expansive love song full of space, soulful harmonies and heavy feeling. Whereas their sophomore single “Chicago” leaned further into this heavy feeling and derived its (literal) emotional weight from such musical contrasts, “Silence” represents Upstairs Open’s first take at a catchy, feelgood pop song.

Silence - Upstairs Open

Silence – Upstairs Open

Buoyant guitars and shimmering synths lay a sweet musical foundation upon which Courtney Paynter sings intimate personal reflections on her dealings with the heart. “I’ve been holding out for love, every time I’m lost in desire,” she poignant admits. “Even when we built a home, couldn’t find the fuel in the fire.” Having painted a rather destitute picture of hope and emptiness, Upstairs Open intertwine their voices in a richly harmonized, touching chorus:

But it’s alright, to believe in a lie
It’s alright, for me
Hope only takes me higher
Alright, if you wanna live in a lie
We’ll hide it in silence

“Silence” may be the group’s most upbeat song to date, but they’re not selling out their depth any time soon. “‘Silence’ is about all of the things that you don’t say, when you know something is happening but can’t bring yourself to get out,” the band tell Atwood Magazine. “We wanted to make it sound the opposite of this though, a kind of celebration, martyrdom…. Although upbeat, it’s still rooted in our mutual love of contrasts, fusing dynamic, bouncy melodies alongside gritty, melancholic lyrics.”

Upstairs Open overwhelmingly succeeded in their endeavor to juxtapose dark emotion with lighter sounds. The band’s first work with producer Matt Allchin (George Ezra, Florence & the Machine) and mixer Tim Bran (London Grammar, Birdy, Primal Scream) grows steadily brighter and brighter, thanks in large part to the increasing strength of the keyboards and acoustic guitar, whose glowing pulses continuously push the track forward. “We wanted to create and energetic track just in time for late summer,” the duo explains. The up-and-down bounce of their six-string’s strums is utterly mesmerizing; without listening to the lyrics, one can easily bask in a cheery soundscape.

Loneliness is overpriced
We’ve overdrawn our pennies from heaven
Staring at the open door
Breathing out a silent confession
Never enough in love to say something
We’re caught in the quiet
Even when you make a storm
In your eyes I never see lightening
Upstairs Open © 2018

Upstairs Open © 2018

But it’s alright, if you wanna live in a lie
It’s alright, for me
Hope only takes me higher
Alright, if you wanna live in a lie
We’ll hide it in silence
We’ll hide it in silence
We’ll hide it in silence
We’ll hide it in silence
Upstairs Open © 2018

Upstairs Open © 2018

Should you choose to fully ingest Paynter and James’ words, “Silence” might very well have the opposite effect and bring you to tears. This vulnerable cry for understanding and familiarity comes from a dark, raw place deep inside – where no one but you knows the truth of a situation. You’re all alone in convincing yourself that “it’s alright if you wanna live in a lie;” that you can hide the real you in silence – the pregnant pauses and long breaths in-between.

That kind of heartwrenching, brutal honesty is enough to take anyone down a few pegs.

Hide away in these four walls
Summer comes, but winter falls
We don’t grow, we just get old and never stray
We live till we die and paradise waits
Autumn comes and springs again
And we don’t see, no other way

Upstairs Open have outdone themselves in “Silence,” affirming their place as a promising artist to watch through a humblingly raw presentation of human nature: “Silence” holds the mirror up to us, asking if we’d rather pretend, or be alone. Not many artists bother diving so deep into the psyche this early on in their career, but as we’re quickly learning, Upstairs Open are not like other artists: They’re happy to bring light to dark places, exploring the complex reality of our beautiful, harrowing world.

Stream “Silence” exclusively on Atwood Magazine ahead of its worldwide release 8/30/2018!

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:: purchase/stream “Silence” here ::

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Silence - Upstairs Open

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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