Premiere: Intimate Anxiety in The Human Fly’s Haunting “What Do You Want?”

The Human Fly © Matt McKeon

Somebody’s gotta be ugly in this world.

Some space. A breath. A single step out of the moment – away from the storm. We can all benefit from a little reflection and introspection, which is exactly what we get on The Human Fly’s powerful new single “What Do You Want?” – a haunting and intimate attempt at inner peace and catharsis.

Flaws make us more alike, I wish they didn’t
Flaws make us more alike, I wish they didn’t
Then I would be less generous, forgiving everybody
Somebody’s gotta be ugly in this world
Listen: “What Do You Want?” – The Human Fly

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “What Do You Want?” the latest single off The Human Fly’s upcoming sophomore studio album Gruesome (out 11/17/2017 via Invertebrate Music). The moniker for Virginian-turned-Brooklynite Robert Mathis, The Human Fly delivers a haunting soundscape through movingly sweet guitar work and deep lyricism that falls somewhere in-between the alternative and folk rock world. His music is charming and intense, an uncommon pairing that feels at home on “What Do You Want?”

A low acoustic guitar leads Mathis through an outpouring of heartfelt whispers. The dazzling arrangement rises and falls with additional harmonies and layers of riffs, but the guitar and vocals pairing remains constant throughout the song, a source of momentum and stability for the artist as he struggles to maintain his own.

Gruesome - The Human Fly

Gruesome – The Human Fly

This week I found the one until next week
This week I found the one until next week
What is it you really want?
Will you care when you have it?

And justify your actions when you don’t?

“At the time ‘What Do You Want?’ was written, I was four years younger and undiagnosed with what I now understand to be an anxiety disorder,” relates Mathis. “Regardless, I had always known that the chemical makeup of my body felt amiss. Among many things, I couldn’t understand why I was such a nervous wreck about pleasing the people around me, nor could I understand some of my impulsivity that came with being in a state of panic. I retreated to writing this song in a moment of reflection as a cathartic acknowledgement, a proclamatory anthem, a prayer for peace of mind. Though the arrangement came out more placid and laid-back, to me, it’s the sound of an all-too familiar situation for me— walking around on a sunny day, beneath a cloudless sky, and feeling like the Earth is about to collapse around you.”

Clear skies, they never stay clear skies, they turn to a fog
Clear skies, they never stay clear skies, they turn to a fog
Clear skies, they never stay clear skies, they turn to a fog
Clear skies, they never stay clear skies, they turn to a fog
What is it you really want?

“What Do You Want?” is dark, in spite of its warmth: Underneath the fluid melodies is uncertaint, a lone individual shouting out into the darkness. Such duality is become a hallmark of The Human Fly’s music, as evidenced in his previous single “Shenandoah,” and it’s certainly something to look forward to on Gruesome.

For now, we are left to embed ourselves fully in The Human Fly’s world – a teetering balance of light and dark that could boil over at any second. If anything, Mathis has found a way to always keep listeners on the edge of their seats – and that, above all else, will keep us coming back to this music time and time again.

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:: pre-order Gruesome here ::

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Gruesome - The Human Fly

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photo © Matt McKeon

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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