“Intimate, Vulnerable, & Gay”: Hayfitz Dwells in the Unrequited Depths of ‘Everything Else,’ His Dreamy Sophomore LP

Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella
Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella
Hayfitz’s Brandon Hafetz takes us track-by-track through his achingly intimate and hauntingly vulnerable sophomore album ‘Everything Else,’ dreamy, soul-stirring record of unrequited love, heartache, self-acceptance, and finding comfort in one’s own skin.
Stream: “Music Room” – Hayfitz




I wanted to make as intimate of a record as possible, and I think we definitely accomplished that here.

He’s selfish and haunted, blindsided and weak, frantic and shattered – and he’s responsible for some of this year’s most breathtakingly beautiful indie folk music.

Why I am thinking about these things? I have no clue,” Hayfitz’s Brandon Hafetz sings partway through his sophomore album, drowning in the deep end of his own relentless emotions. “What do they mean? Oh, why am I thinking about these things?” Achingly intimate and hauntingly vulnerable, Everything Else is a dreamy, soul-stirring record of unrequited love and all-consuming heartache.

It’s the raw, visceral music of a heavy heart exposed, brought to life by the artist and the person he wrote all his songs about.

How’s that for a twist?

Everything Else - Hayfitz
Everything Else – Hayfitz
Can you blame me for getting confused?
I was terrified it all was so new
Can you blame me for just telling the truth?
I fell in love with you, what I knew of you
Didn’t tell you how I wanted to
Couldn’t remember what u said you’d do
Drank until I didn’t have to choose
I had to tell you, I couldn’t keep it from you
Now look at what I’ve put you through
I made it so we all would lose
Just wish we could get back into
That music room
– “Music Room,” Hayfitz

Released October 6, 2023 via Life on Loop / SeaYou Records, Everything Else is a truly (bitter)sweet production from an artist who has never failed to enchant, inspire, and leave us in tatters. The queer gentle folk project of New Jersey-born, LA-raised, and Berlin-based singer/songwriter Brandon Hafetz, Hayfitz is a weaver of delicate wonders – his discography a series of lush and sweetly ethereal indie folk daydreams. Warm acoustic guitars and radiant, whisper-like vocals create a familiar and cozy space for all to dwell in as we soak up the artist’s enchantingly intimate and immersive sound.

And there’s a lot to soak up on Everything Else, which Hafetz recorded and co-produced while isolated in a cabin with the very person the entire record is about – his musical collaborator and best friend, Sam Cope.

“I knew that as soon as I admitted to Sam what it was all about, that it was no longer going to be just hypothetical,” Hayfitz tells Atwood Magazine. “It was a very dark internal chapter for me. But it had to happen one way or another as far as me telling him. And it’s all embedded in the record. It’s right there, starting with the first song.”

Hayfitz © Chris Uhren
Hayfitz © Chris Uhren



Everything Else follows the full story arc of Hafetz admitting his crush, his and Cope’s relationship dissolving for a time, and their eventual slow recovery.

“I started writing songs for this record when Sam and I first started making music together back in 2018,” Hafetz tells Atwood Magazine. “I never at that time thought I would feel comfortable talking about my sexuality/queerness publicly in my music; it was just an outlet to privately confront things I couldn’t necessarily confront in real life yet. But running away from all of that only led me to hit my absolute rock bottom and do a lot of damage to relationships that I valued more than anything.”

“Long, long story short, I kept writing songs through that rock bottom and the whole journey back, and meanwhile Sam and I rebuilt our friendship slowly and surely until the point in which we were ready to start making things together again. It just so happened that our first real opportunity to do that was this record, and when he suggested the idea of doing it together (well knowing all the songs were about him) I thought he was joking – but also that it would be perfect – and here we are!”

He laughs. “I can’t say I ever imagined this record being made in the way that it ended up being made, that’s for sure. Historically most of the people I write songs about aren’t even in my life anymore by the time I finally start recording, let alone directly involved in the recording process.”

“But I can genuinely say it was the most cathartic and healing three weeks of my life getting to make this, and I couldn’t be happier with how it all came out in the end. The one thing I knew from day one was that I wanted to make as intimate of a record as possible, and I think we definitely accomplished that here.”

Hayfitz © Sam Cope
Hayfitz © Sam Cope



Hafetz candidly describes Everything Else as an intimate, vulnerable, and gay record. The title pulls inspiration from the final (and most vulnerable) song on the album – a sweet, conclusive acoustic number in which he tenderly sings, “We’re not what I thought but we’re everything else, I can finally tell you the hard stuff now.” All those raw emotions built up over the past ten tracks are finally released in a cathartic tidal wave of whispered resolve. It’s not the closure he might have originally wanted, but it’s the one he ultimately needed.

“The title was actually supposed to be ‘Delusions’ originally, to echo the sentiment of the song ‘Delusional’ – that’s until Sam got involved and was quick to convince me that, at least from his perspective, that wasn’t the real sentiment behind these songs as a whole – that it was actually much more positive and full circle,” Hafetz says.

“I wasn’t even going to record the title track with Sam there because I was too scared to share that with him in such an intimate setting – but once we got to the end of the three weeks I felt like I could share anything and so I spontaneously decided to play him the song for the first time and we recorded it just in case it came out really special… Now that live recording is the most cherished recording I have because it captures our friendship in its most vulnerable and open moment.”

“Once we listened to it back it was a no-brainer that the album needed to be named after that song, and also that we would use that live version as the final version.”

Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella
Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella



Fans of Hayfitz’s 2020 debut album Capsules will surely pinpoint the through-lines between that album and this one, yet to the artist, they feel miles and miles apart from each other – and that’s not just because he moved to the other side of the Atlantic.

“I think on my first record, Capsules, I was timid and genuinely just not ready to share a lot of things about myself yet.  You can hear it in how quietly I mixed the vocals in, and how I was hiding in the ambience of everything,” Hafetz admits. “This time I wanted to be more forthcoming about who I am in the present day and what it took to get here. I finally felt like I had something to say this time around, which raised the stakes internally for me tenfold.”

“Also with doing the first album mostly alone, I think I limited myself to a certain creative threshold. Opening these songs up to Sam really just elevated everything to a level I 1,000% wouldn’t have ever been able to reach without him. I remember feeling like I could die happily after making this record, which I know is not something that happens often, if ever, for creative people.”

Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella
Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella



“Music Room” Is Hayfitz's Breathtakingly Beautiful Indie Folk Confessional

:: PREMIERE ::

Highlights abound throughout Everything Else, starting with album opener “Music Room,” which lays the foundations for all that’s to come through hauntingly beautiful layers of soul-stirring production and soft-sung vocals:

Climbing ladders up to the roof
Locked out of our music room
Those pretzels were our only food
I hardly knew you
Getting high with Bing & Ruth
No idea what this would turn into
Thought you were just passing through
I hardly knew you

From its hushed beginnings to its lush, soaring, and smoldering latter half, “Music Room” resonates with unfiltered intimacy and intensity. Not only is it a powerful song to start an album, but it’s also an emphatic, emotionally charged expression from Hafetz’s innermost depths.

It’s a personal favorite for him as well.

“‘Music Room’ will always be a favorite of mine for how it just fit so much of this story into one song,” he says with a smile. “I’ll always remember listening to it back with Sam at the cabin and us both getting emotional about how it just was all there – the fact that the song ends with me saying “just wish I could get back into that music room” then sitting there with Sam having just recorded that very song together in a new music room was about as impactful of a moment as there can be for me.”




Hayfitz © Chris Uhren
Hayfitz © Chris Uhren

“Music Room” is in good company: Tracks like the hypnotic and brooding “Curl,” the warm and wondrous “What’s Wrong,” the sun-kissed “Delusional,” and “Everything Else” further build out the album’s world as Hayfitz delivers heartrending music and poignant, emotionally charged lyrical poetry.

“Beyond that, I think my favorites were songs that went through a big shift of some sort during the recording process,” he muses, diving deeper into his own personal highlights. “‘Blindsided,’ for instance, we tried for a whole day with it played on an electric guitar and it just felt loud and lacking the intimacy of the other songs – then I started playing it on the electric piano at the cabin at like midnight that night and something clicked as far as it finally feeling the way I felt in the moment I wrote the song about.”

“‘R.o.y.l.’ was another one of those – we actually showed the near finished recording to our friend Chris who visited for a night towards the end of the tracking process, and he thought something about it sounded cold versus the rest of the songs. So I tweaked the guitar part and some harmonies for the verses and all of a sudden it had this really sincere feeling to it that it definitely didn’t have previously – so thanks Chris for that one!”

“And without a doubt, the title track ‘Everything Else’ topped it all for me. Every time I listen to that recording now it’s like we’re right back there at the cabin again and it’s super comforting.”

“Everything Else” is also home to Hafetz’s lyrical highlight: “My favorite line on the whole record, by far, is, ‘We’re not what I thought but we’re everything else.’ That, to me, just says it all in as few words as possible about what this record is about at the end of the day.”

“I also enjoyed using a brief moment of levity on ‘R.o.y.l.’ (Rest of Your Life) where I say. ‘Want you kids to call me Uncle, want them to come up with a rhyme for Uncle’ – this lighter, more whimsical direction is one in which I look forward to exploring a lot more lyrically for new albums down the line.”

So I finally ask you bout’ your newest partner
I say sorry that I haven’t asked sooner
Tell you that I recently kissed my first boy
And that I guess I’m not scared anymore
But no, I still have absolutely no clue what I’m doing
just know that I wanna really see you
Understand you
Be around for you when you need me
‘Cause we’re not what I thought but we’re everything else
I can finally tell you the hard stuff now
And when you look right at me I will not look down
‘Cause you know you can tell me the hard stuff now




Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella
Hayfitz © Sebastian Vericella

Ultimately, Everything Else is a record of friendship; of fracture and self-discovery; of self-acceptance and finding comfort in one’s own skin.

This story of unrequited love is the glue connecting everything together, but below the surface there’s so much more to love about this breathtakingly beautiful, achingly intimate and vulnerable collection of songs.

“I hope that this album can be an outlet of sorts for people, queer people especially, that are struggling with the confrontation of their sexuality and identity,” Hafetz shares. “As a pansexual man, I never got to see or hear much in media when I was growing up that would have resonated with me in a lasting way, and I just hope this can be a small contribution to a new wave of media that is more so normalizing queer stories, bi/pan-sexuality, and also softness in same-sex friendships.”

Of this project, he adds, “I’ve never been more fulfilled by making something, and for that I’m forever grateful. All I can hope for beyond that is that these songs will reach people that can relate to them in some way.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Hayfitz’s Everything Else with Atwood Magazine as Brandon Hafetz takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his sophomore album!

— —

:: stream/purchase Everything Else here ::
:: connect with Hayfitz here ::
Stream: ‘Everything Else’ – Hayfitz



:: Inside Everything Else ::

Everything Else - Hayfitz

— —

Music Room

This is the thesis statement for the record in many ways – it describes the origin story of me and Sam’s friendship that blossomed into my unexpected development of feelings for him and my eventual poor navigation of his rejecting me romantically. Sound/vibe – narrative ballad, lyric forward, mystical/introspective sounding.

Curl

This describes the period after Sam and I stopped talking for some months and the beginnings of us getting comfortable communicating again. It was like starting all over and rebuilding our friendship from the ground up. Sound/vibe – one of the more unique songs on the record with the drum loop and super dry vocal.

Blindsided

This is about the very first few times Sam and I spent time together when he would come from Pittsburgh to NYC to make music for our duo electronic project that’s yet to be released. It was my queer awakening of sorts and the first time I genuinely felt romantic feelings for a man. Sound/vibe – trance like, super intimate and bare bones instrumentation.

What’s Wrong

This is the most emotional one on the record for me – describing my battling with myself over coming out to my mom and coming to terms with the very real nature of my sexuality. Sound/vibe – My voice sounds different here than the rest of the record – broken and very dry to help communicate how tense of a moment this was. Ends with a meditative instrumental ambient section as a reprieve from the first half.

The Hardest Thing

This is about the moment Sam told me once and for all that he didn’t feel the same romantically towards me and that it was “the hardest thing he’s ever had to say” as we were laying in separate beds in a shared room in the dark. Sound/Vibe – ballad, rain in the background, trying to recreate the setting of the actual night as best as we could.

Delusional

The record starts to shed its darkness in tone from this point on and begins to get more hopeful. I describe my delusional intentions over trying to work on bettering myself with hopes that Sam and I would be able to be in each others lives again as soon as possible. Sound/Vibe – the lightest most upbeat song on the record.

Hiding

This is about the first time Sam and I saw each other after our falling out when he opened for the post-punk band, S.C.A.B. that I was playing drums for at the time. Sound/vibe – darker & hushed.

Mind Juggler

This song is about fighting my internal intrusive thoughts and projections even after knowing that what I thought was there wasn’t actually there after all. Sound/vibe – one of the more straightforward songs musically, finger picked folk with organic percussion layers.

R.O.Y.L. (Rest of Your Life)

This song comes from a place of acceptance of the new and improved version of me and Sam’s friendship. I tried to capture my unconditional love for him and willingness to redefine how we would be in each others lives, even if it wasn’t the way I’d originally hoped for. Sound/vibe – one of the more lyric forward songs on the record with even some small tinges of humor.

Everything Else

The title track of the album recorded live on one our last days at the cabin. I had taken a small amount of mushrooms and Sam and I sat and listened to everything we’d recorded up until that point which was incredibly emotional for both of us. I had planned to record this song separately and show him after the fact but in the moment decided to play it for him for the first time and record it just in case. It ended up being the most fitting way to end the album. Sound/vibe – as bare bones as it gets.

— —

:: stream/purchase Everything Else here ::
:: connect with Hayfitz here ::

— — — —

Everything Else - Hayfitz

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? © Sebastian Vericella

:: Stream Hayfitz ::



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