Toronto’s Deanna Petcoff opens up about her beautifully intense and intimately expressive debut album ‘To Hell With You, I Love You’, a soaring, sweeping indie rock soundtrack to the acts of falling in and out of love.
Stream: “Failing Upwards” – Deanna Petcoff
I wanted to map the emotional journey one goes on through a relationship that is complicated, loving, heartbreaking and finally finished.
There’s something undeniably poetic about the image of Deanna Petcoff “failing upwards,” but by all accounts, the Toronto-based singer/songwriter has been winning from the very start. In premiering her first single four years ago, Atwood Magazine praised the brand new artist for delivering a perfect entrance: “‘Terribly True’ hits all the right notes with its bittersweet admission of guilt and rejection of love,” we wrote. “A powerful cry awash in poignant remorse, longing, strength and perseverance, the song introduces us to Deanna Petcoff and hints of great things to come.”
Four inconceivably long years later, Deanna Petcoff has delivered the perfect entrance once again with her dynamic, dramatic, and emotionally-charged debut album. A soaring, sweeping indie rock record filled with heartwarming charm, raw passion, and captivating energy, To Hell With You, I Love You is a beautifully intense and intimately expressive soundtrack to the acts of falling in and out of love.
I have my fate in my hands again
Thinking of how I’m a mess to him
Wondering how I am ever gonna put up with me
I have my heart in my head again
I’m lost as a child can be
Cuz I wander around my neighbourhood
Hoping the answer will appear in front of me
I’m a little uptight sometimes
But I don’t like feeling like a trophy wife
But I’ll wait in the car at the end of the night till you arrive
You feel a little misguided cuz you misread my alliance
And you still think I’m against you
In every way, and I am today
And I know you’re not trying to break my heart
But you’re doing a bang up job
And I told you that I’m not trying to lose your trust
But at least I’m failing upwards
– “Failing Upwards,” Deanna Petcoff
Released April 8th, 2022 via Royal Mountain Records, To Hell With You, I Love You is an enthralling best-foot-forward from an artist who has consistently left us stunned in the very best of ways. At one time describing herself as writing “happy songs about sad things,” 25-year-old Deanna Petcoff has quickly emerged as one of Ontario’s most exciting up-and-coming indie rockers, wearing her heart on her metaphorical sleeves as she spills her soul in songs rich in melody and high in verve.
Making use of a full rock band setup around her enchanting singing voice, Petcoff’s music is sonically reminiscent of contemporaries such as London’s Jade Bird and Melbourne’s Angie McMahon; artists who, much like Petcoff herself, pack a punch in every song, be it sweetly tender or explosively hard-hitting. Sonically, To Hell With You, I Love You is a cinematic mix of tasteful balladry and radiant, revelrous anthems, putting love’s highs and lows into perspective through catchy moments of connection and catharsis. All the while, Petcoff leans into that most beautiful and painful of human experiences: Love.
Being in love is the most human thing in the world, as is being in pain. To hold both of those feelings at once is complicated, heavy, and deserves a release.
“My vision for this record was to capture all sides of falling in and out of love,” Petcoff says in conversation with Atwood Magazine. “I wanted to map the emotional journey one goes on through a relationship that is complicated, loving, heartbreaking and finally finished. I think I stayed true to the course on my vision, and my team really helped me keep the story straight as we worked through the lyrics and themes.”
“I feel like this record introduces people to my inner workings as a person and a writer, as I spend a lot of time sussing out feelings and playing the villain which I constantly do in my own head. I also got to work with my band (Julian Psihogios, Callum Maudsley, Dylan Burrett) and my producer Nixon Boyd on creating a sound that captures our live sound, which feels really organic to me. We were really able to take our time with each individual piece of this record because we were in lockdown and didn’t have anything else to distract us. I’m really grateful for that.”
All my friends think you’re a joke
It’s not funny anymore
And I turned you to anecdote
Pretending you’re just another chore
Well, I know it’s really hard to tell
If I’m enthralled or if I’m bored
It’s time to ask myself
Why I never ask for more
Why do I search all night
For a chance to say your name?
And why do I waste my life
On a boy that’s so devastatingly mediocre?
I don’t wanna love you anymore
Petcoff gave her all to make this album an authentic expression of connection and intimacy that was both personal and true to her.
She calls the album “passionate, cathartic, and loving,” and further expands on the title:
“In keeping with the theme of this record, I wanted the title to capture the feelings that come with falling out of love with someone. The end of a relationship can feel like so many different things, but especially when it’s the end of a relationship with someone you’re still in love with, things get tricky. There’s a juxtaposition in this record that I think the title represents, because you can hate and love someone at the same time.”
To Hell With You, I Love You was born of intense emotions, and the music plays as such. Irresistible album opener “Falling Upwards” sets the scene with a hearty, driving beat and candid lyrics that unapologetically plunge into the subject matter at hand. “I know you’re not trying to break my heart, but you’re doing a bang up job,” Petcoff sings in the song’s cinematic chorus. “And I told you that I’m not trying to lose your trust, but at least I’m failing upwards.”
Petcoff keeps passions high as her record progresses; highlights range from the tongue-in-cheek track “Trash Bag,” the record’s impassioned lead single “Devastatingly Mediocre,” the achingly heavy-hearted “I Don’t Wanna Get Over You,” and the softly smoldering, jazz-tinged “As Much As I Can.”
“My favourite song on this record is ‘I Don’t Wanna Get Over You,’ which I wrote with my good friend Jacob Switzer (Jay Feelbender), because I feel like it’s the most honest and vulnerable I could be,” Petcoff says. “I wanted to write something really honest and embarrassing because I was so scared of everything I was feeling. It’s embarrassing to want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, and to be angry with someone and also love them so much at the same time. I think it’s important to explore all those feelings and allow yourself to admit something that might be embarrassing in hopes of connecting to other people that feel the same way.”
As a lyrically forward singer/songwriter, Petcoff also cites a few of her favorite lyrics off the album:
- from “I Don’t Wanna Get Over You“: “I am still upset with you for all the shit you put me through / I wonder how you got me to fall so deeply in love with you / I guess I’m just a sucker for a boy who’s nice to his mother / a phenomenal lover, hope that I can find another.”
- from “That’s What I Get“: “Last night I dreamed that you screamed your thoughts at me / and I was happy ‘cause I heard you / and praised monogamy / we yelled and we ranted but wound up right where we began / that’s what we get for always playing pretend.”
Come for the tenacious, poetic turmoil, stay for the drama – or the catchy singalongs – or the cathartic outpourings of the soul. Deanna Petcoff has created in her debut album a space for all to groove, laugh, smile, love, cry, and so much more. To Hell With You, I Love You is a fun, sun-kissed, heartfelt indie rock that, through it all (and sometimes in spite of itself), inspires us to believe in love; to have hope that we can each find and cherish that deep, emotional and physical intimacy with someone special.
Not bad for a debut – but unsurprising, given Petcoff’s self-confessed tendency for “failing upwards.”
I don’t know what to say to you
When your day is going wrong
I could try to make you laugh by doing a silly dance
But I’d be wrong
I don’t know what to say to you
When you won’t listen to my songs
I lay myself bare and, still, you don’t care to sing along
Oh, I just want you to sing with me
Oh, it could be about anything
I don’t need you to know how to dance
Or even know how to romance
I just want you to sing with me
– “Sing with Me,” Deanna Petcoff
“I want listeners to feel safe exploring their feelings and allow this record to let them feel things they don’t want to look at,” Petcoff shares. “I think that’s the number one thing I got out of this record: Exploring feelings that I really didn’t want to be feeling and putting words to them. Being in love is the most human thing in the world, as is being in pain. To hold both of those feelings at once is complicated, heavy, and deserves a release. I hope anyone that’s feeling even 10% of what I was feeling can feel some catharsis from this, and then come scream the lyrics with me at a show sometime.”
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Deanna Petcoff’s To Hell With You, I Love You with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her debut album!
Stream: ‘To Hell With You, I Love You’ – Deanna Petcoff
:: Inside To Hell With You, I Love You ::
““Failing Upwards” wasn’t supposed to be a happy song. At the time I was trying to make a relationship work that clearly wasn’t working with someone I was really in love with. I felt like every choice I had made and continued to make was the wrong one and that everything I did just added more fuel to a growing fire. When I was writing “Failing Upwards” I was thinking about my journey as a woman falling in and out of love. This is a song about not being at your best, but doing better than before.
I wrote this song as a little tongue-in-cheek moment. I was starting to see someone new in the throes of the pandemic, and I had to cancel on them almost every time we had plans because I was having an anxiety attack or a depressive episode or a chronic pain flare and couldn’t get myself out of bed. I didn’t want them to view me as a sick person, and I wanted them to still want to see me when I got better. This song came out of nowhere one day while my roommate was doing laundry and moving around bags of garbage that we hadn’t been able to take out in a few days because neither of us had our shit together. In the end I hope this song resonates with anyone that has a mental illness, chronic illness, or anything that prevents them from feeling normal, healthy, and cute.
That’s What I Get
This song was originally a poem I wrote after a therapy session. I really wanted to convey the frustration I was feeling in my relationship and the feeling of pushing your partner so hard that they break. It’s so difficult when one person wants to make the relationship work and the other doesn’t, but the love is still there on both sides. This song is also about expectations, and feeling the afterglow of being let down because you set unrealistic expectations that could only end poorly.
I Don’t Wanna Wake Up
This is a song that I started working on while my partner was asleep beside me. It always made me so happy to wake up with him beside me and I wanted to capture that feeling. I also wanted to capture the serenity in those moments before the other person wakes up, when they’re peacefully sleeping and there’s not a care in the world. I abandoned this song for a while, and came back to it after we’d broken up. Reflecting on the relationship I decided to add in some more colour, discussing the codependency and reclusiveness that was part of our downfall. Love is complicated and multifaceted and evaluating yourself and your dependency on someone else is important at any step of a relationship.
As Much As I Can
I wanted to write a love song with no sadness in it, no complications, nothing having gone wrong yet. I wrote this song after a breakup about how I felt at the beginning of that relationship. It’s a sad song for me because obviously things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, but it’s full of hope for anyone who is at the beginning of something wonderful.
I wrote this song when my friend was dating the most boring guy alive. He really was so normal, met the bare minimum of being a decent person, and yet she was so infatuated with him. At first I wrote this as a joke because I always called him devastatingly mediocre just to tease her, but when I showed it to my band they loved it and we decided to make it something real. I think it actually holds a lot of meaning for a lot of people– it’s so easy to fall in love with someone just because you want to be in love, regardless of whether or not it really works.
I Don’t Wanna Get Over You
I wrote this song with my good friend Jacob Switzer (Jay Feelbender) over Zoom somewhere during the second lockdown. We wanted to write something to stay connected to each other during a time of extreme loneliness and isolation, so we decided to take this small idea I had and turn it into this sad, Strokes-y tune. We’d both been listening to a lot of The Magnetic Fields, and really valued how honest and brutal their writing can be. We wanted to say something that hurt a little bit, was a little bit embarrassing, and ultimately the most honest we could be.
I Didn’t Lie
I heard once that losing a relationship with someone you love is grieved in the brain similarly to a death, and I’ve known that to be true. I wanted this to serve as a eulogy of sorts as I was at the end of a relationship and trying to come to terms with the ending of something so significant. I wanted there to be hope for happiness, hope for new love for both me and the other person, but also an acknowledgement that that connection we had with each other would be lost.
If You Were Me
This is the oldest song on the record. I started writing this in high school about my partner at the time who was emotionally abusive. I wasn’t able to finish the song once I started it because I didn’t feel safe saying all of these things when I knew he would hear them. My good friend and collaborator Callum Maudsley helped me navigate those waters and come to a message that was clear and relatable to lots of other people; if I were you I would treat me better.
Sing with Me
With Sing With Me, I wanted to express the feeling of wanting someone to reciprocate love in an emotional and vulnerable experience such as singing, when they didn’t want to. Being a musician who falls for other musicians can be hard, and I’ve never found a scenario in which it’s easy for one person’s work to be celebrated in its entirety, because there are always so many feelings tied up in them and it’s always very personal information being shared. It’s a tough balance to strike but I hold onto the belief that it’s possible.
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📸 © Nadia Doss
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