Love is beautiful; love is fickle. Love is blindness; love is all you need. This Valentine’s Day, Atwood Magazine invited artists to share the stories behind their own songs of love and heartbreak for what has become our most interactive feature yet! From indie greats like Overcoats, Jack River, COIN, and Sløtface to newcomers like Emily Keener, Ryann, Adam Melchor and beyond, artists from all over the world have taken deep dives into some of their most intimate songs. Whether you’re basking in the throes of passion, or picking up the pieces and trying to move on, we’ve got a song for you.
Is it commercialized and overdone? Yes! Are we doing it anyway? YES! Pick your poison and indulge in some new music on this annual celebration of romance and Saint Valentine!
– Mitch Mosk, Editor-in-Chief
|| HEARTACHE SONGS ||
Emily Keener Overcoats Ryann E^ST COIN Sløtface Didirri Litany Fransancisco Caity Krone Freja Frances Fake Fake Favela Charlotte OC Charlee Remitz Nicole Mercedes Luna Pines FERGUS Axel Flóvent Garrett Kato Lily Kershaw Stu Larsen Fassine The Still Tide Future Teens Kablito Honey Gentry
|| LOVE SONGS ||
Jack River Adam Melchor CocoRosie Seafret The Magic Lantern Allen Stone Lowen Bandits on the Run Brother Moses Ships Have Sailed Willie Shaw Bradley Arthur Maxwell Frederick the Younger Echosmith Pom Pom Squad Wild Rivers Mara Connor FM THREAD Corey Kilgannon Dan Edmonds Hayley Reardon Heart Bones Steve Umculo
by Emily Keener
Aove can be so fraught with anxieties and obsessive wonderings. In romantic experiences, I’ve watched my insecurities arise in overwhelming ways. My response was to idealize people; I hoped for someone to “rescue me” and make life feel better. I wrote the song for people who are working through their desires and their fears simultaneously. It’s a vulnerable place to be so I wanted to create music that could be someone’s companion throughout that experience. It’s about grieving the loss of a connection, seeking love from unavailable people, and coming to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be saved from my own feelings.
“Leave If You Wanna”
‘Leave If You Wanna’ is stuck somewhere between love and anti-love. It’s about the danger of being stubborn, and standing your ground just to win the fight. Love has its ugly sides and you have to let go of things that don’t allow you to be who you are.
“Drive” was written about the most amicable, yet hardest breakup I’ve had so far. I was both certain that it was the absolute right decision as well as haunted by the huge mistake I had made — so I think it’s safe to say I was a bit all over the place. Kat, Dave and I tried to paint a picture of the internal battle that comes with the decision to part ways with someone you care about.
“Fresh Out Of Love”
I wrote this song just after going through a breakup, kind of in that period of time after you’ve felt all the things and you’re just left feeling kinda empty and tired. But writing the song helped me reflect on how easy it is to give everything to someone else, to the point where you’re not looking out for yourself… And I realised how dumb that was and that I never wanted to find myself in that position again. It’s wonderful to love others, but not at the cost of your own wellbeing, I think.
No song is more “Dreamland” than this one. Over the past three years, we all moved to separate corners of the country. To say our writing process shifted would be an understatement. In retrospect, it’s easy to see how time & space would give each of us a new creative voice; a chance to contribute as pieces of a puzzle instead of one collective mouthpiece. And “Rock n roll song,” as it was known on my computer for months, is the most beautiful puzzle. I sent out a track with a finished verse & an empty chorus. Minutes later, Ryan texted a chorus vocal, and Joseph sent the perfect guitar part. “Valentine” is exactly what this album is made of: teamwork, uncertainty, & acceptance.
“Stuff” is my attempt at an honest breakup song. It’s just about all the stuff that’s left over after a relationship, especially if you live with someone, that you might have memories associated with that suddenly become painful, and how that slowly fades until the pain is gone and the stuff is just stuff again. It’s also about how great those fresh starts can be, and how you find a way back to yourself, when it’s just yourself.
It’s not just about chemistry with a person, it’s about timing as well. Sometimes an impossible one to learn without going through it. When I first wrote ‘Raw Stuff’ I remember giving up on it straight away. It was too painful or something along those lines. It Lay dormant amongst all of my other songwriting endeavours in the voice memos app on my phone. Until two years later, working on my next project in the studio I was sat at the piano. The phone rang and I picked up. there was my friend on the phone telling me that they were breaking up as well. I remember that feeling and the song instantly and started up the verse. The rest tumbled out of me and before I knew it we had recorded it. It’s not just about chemistry with a song, it is about timing as well.
“Single Player Mode”
“Single Player Mode” is first and foremost a break-up song, but it’s not mourning a romantic relationship, rather a decade-long friendship with my former band-mate. When he left the project, I was heartbroken. I thought it was the end of my career as I knew it and couldn’t feasibly see a way of writing music let alone salvaging our once close friendship. No one likes a quitter so in the initial two weeks post split and in a heightened state of grief, I wrote “Single Player Mode” as an ode to our nostalgic and often game infused catalogue. There is an underlying theme of hope though, I needed it as a form of therapy at that time. I knew things weren’t ever going to be the same but it was important to recognise that change, though gut-wrenching, can often be a blessing in disguise.
“Gold” is a song that we believe captures the essence of that ‘old flame’ who broke your heart… and yet you can’t stop thinking about them every now and again. That bittersweet feeling. It’s seeking the perfect balance between wishing that person well, while still feeling the pain of the heartbreak. There’s always a release that comes with truly forgiving someone for hurting you. It’s also valuable to feel thankful for the gifts and lessons that that person provided for your life. If it didn’t happen, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. Alchemy turns lead into gold. Healing through the pain of a heartbreak ultimately makes us stronger. This song is about transforming those heavy emotions of a broken heart, into pure hearts of “Gold.”
“Thank You for the Sunday Paper”
by Caity Krone
“Thank You for the Sunday Paper” is about the longing to reclaim yourself when you feel like you’re consumed in another person, or even their memory really, but not necessarily having the courage to do it yet. I wrote the song as a push for myself really. When it was all finished, I listened back and the song reminded me that I’m powerful and have so much to offer on my own, and that pining over someone isn’t fair to me, because all of my energy has to go into loving myself and believing in myself, that’s what will give these songs a fighting chance.
by Freja Frances
“Juliet” is about getting into a relationship that feels doomed from the start. It’s about wanting to be able to ‘fix’ someone but at the same time knowing that’s not possible. The song draws comparison to Romeo & Juliet’s intense young love but, in this telling, Juliet is aware of her fate and afraid of the inevitable tragedy.
by Fake Fake
I’ve always tried to do something unique every year, to mixed results. 2020 is my first single Valentine’s Day in years and I’ve decided to spend to do it with a heavy cynicism with one of my friends. We’ll be making food at my place to save on the cost, as well as preparing our own drinks. Then we’re going to get super wasted and dress up fancy to go see the Live-Action Sonic the Hedgehog movie in the theatre.
When writing the newly released single “Homingbird” my heart with regards to Love was laid bare. It’s not primarily a romantic love but a song about a search for relationship – for something deep and meaningful. Those pieces coming together over time leading to different melodies and grooves embraced in a symphony of sound, to me, represent the growing of intensity of yearning and understanding of the journey. The key ingredient is relationship.
by Charlotte OC
This song came out of pure jealousy which I find to be the worst trait anybody can have and yet I found myself feeling it and for the most selfish of reasons but i guess that’s why I wanted to write about it, because I know full well I’m not on my own when it comes to thinking the way that I did.
It’s about how you don’t necessarily want to be with somebody anymore but you hate the fact they’ve found somebody and worst of all …They seem REALLY happy. And all of a sudden you start remembering them as this amazing person when really, as lovely as they were there was a massive reason why you didn’t want to carry it on in the first place (because they just weren’t the right person for you), however in that green-eyed monster moment you can’t see that at all.
It genuinely fascinated me how my mind quickly shifted like that, from “no chance” to “Oh wait hang on a minute.”
“Nothing Blooms Quite Like a Heartache”
by Charlee Remitz
My thing with love is it can’t be the same romance twice. It can’t be the same heartache twice. If it is, you attracted to you the same lesson you didn’t learn the first time around. I left my first relationship feeling completely empty. Broken. Cold. Lifeless. And I left my second relationship triumphant—stronger than when I entered it. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be self-conscious or insecure. It’s supposed to be sure of itself. YOU’RE supposed to be sure of yourself. If you aren’t, it’s not love, it’s just fear masquerading in love’s place.
On the music video… When I broke up with my first boyfriend, our last date was supposed to be at a roller rink. I’ve long romanticized Netflix rom coms for their ability to make grand love stories out of tiny, mundane things. Being that we fell apart, I’d still wanted to go to the roller rink. It felt fundamental to me. Like, if I didn’t go, I was directly going against the stars, so I got two of my closest girlfriends together, and I went. I remember skating around and watching all these people falling down, and not just falling down but trying something foreign for the first time and absolutely WIPING. OUT. and I remember thinking you’ve fallen and it hurts right now, but eventually you’ll get up and you’ll try again and maybe you’ll fall a few more times, but that’s okay. When you try something, you’re not supposed to be an expert at it at first. And that’s true of love. It is so trial and error. And in this era of guilt, I so want to remind the youth that it’s okay to struggle and make mistakes and fuck up and want to be with him or her all the time and choose them first even though you’re neglecting your friends. It’s okay to let it eat you alive just once; or twice if you need. It’s okay to feel. And it’s okay to give in. Because that’s how you learn.”
“You’ll Miss It All”
by Luna Pines
We’ve never been big writers of love songs to be honest, although we have been told that we sound like a sad version of an 80’s John Hughes movie soundtrack which is ironic haha! In terms of anti-valentine’s experiences, the only one that comes straight to my mind is when I was working in a restaurant. I was 18 years old and it was my first real full time job and I was given the horrific task of a big section on a busy Valentine’s Day. One guy wanted me to put a ring in the champagne I was taking over, and I mistakenly told my colleague about it a little too loud and the girl heard! She then stood up and kicked off about it being such a tacky way to propose, threw a drink in his face and stormed out. It was pretty awkward and I don’t think she was a big fan of the whole Valentine’s thing either by the looks of it! So yeah, that’s probably the best story I can think of…
by Nicole Mercedes
This is a song about embracing the feeling of loneliness, about those summer nights where all you’re looking for is a distraction, and a rotating door of friends and strangers to drink with, talk with, make out with. The stoop is my favorite place to do that because things are constantly happening around you and you can kind of just sit there drinking some wine in your slippers, passively being a part of the landscape
I wrote Concave last summer when I’d just been dumped. Although I didn’t know it, I would actually go on to be dumped AGAIN by the same person before the month was out (lol) – but that’s another song…
It captures a time where I was so stuck going over and over things in my head. I felt like I’d had my entire character assassinated by someone who had, not that long before, said they “loved everything” about me. It was such a shock – out of the blue really, and it’s hard to describe exactly why that is without going into a lot of stuff that came after this song, and without sounding super bitter. But I’ll give it a go….
It’s just that it was all delivered so convincingly, and by someone I’d totally committed to, for whom I’d have done anything. We’d had our fair share of arguments in the run up, all about the same thing, but all this stuff was new. And not only new, but it was tiny little things. All stuff that would be super easy to fix. Just a slight change in behaviour. Like apparently I’m too spontaneous and don’t plan things enough in advance. OK I will try to not do that. Or it was things she’d said a few times drunk and taken back the next day. But again, it was the way it was all described to me like all these things were a part of who I am and unchangeable and, also, awful! So bad that we had to end our relationship. And at the time I was not very happy. I was frustrated with and worried about several things in my life and had been acting out recently, so I believed everything she said.
I spent all my time obsessing over what I could have possibly done differently, and what it all meant. I felt like I was excavating layers of myself away to get to an answer, anything. So that’s the state I was in. I thought about the arguments we’d had. My ex would often joke about herself being an alcoholic. And we only ever argued when we were drunk. I like to drink too. She would always suddenly say the same thing “What do you do all day?” and wouldn’t remember the times she’d asked me that before. “Think, play guitar…I dunno” I’d say, “it depends what I have to do!”. Then she’d go on about how busy she is and how little else I have going on in my life. And she wouldn’t remember it in the morning. She would always use being drunk as an excuse “you can’t expect anything from me when I’m drunk”. There was the time I waited outside her flat for nearly 2 hours because every time she rang me she didn’t remember any of the times she had before saying she was on her way home. So yeah I started acting out whenever this came up. I ran away once. Like actually ran. Who does that?! I felt like I was tiptoeing around this problem because it felt so hypocritical to bring it up and she was so convincing that I was being unreasonable every time I did.
But anyway – now I realise what was going on, but when I wrote this song I didn’t. It’s something we’d always clashed over, and I finally lost. This song isn’t just about being heartbroken. It’s also about loving someone who has a substance problem. The person you fell in love with just slips away and becomes someone else. The eyes you loved looking into are now bloodshot and blurry. And the future you’d imagined is gone. They keep saying it’s not a problem and it’s not that often, and that it’s normal… That’s London for you. But you can see that it’s affecting every aspect of their life in a negative way. And it’s not about them having fun anymore it’s a real dependency.
So I realised I’d been with someone who numbs themselves at every opportunity, with no regard for the consequences. So in denial and so defensive that they played on my own insecurities to manipulate me and wield all the power in our relationship. All to avoid facing their own demons. I wrote the line “did you feel it when I binned your birthday card?” a few months later when I actually did eventually do this. I’d held onto it for 3 months after we first split, months after my birthday… Silly really – the things we hold onto that, in return, only hold us back.
by Axel Flóvent
I wrote ‘Driving Hours’ before I moved to Amsterdam, around the holidays. In my first demo, you could hear the snow hitting the skylight of my apartment. It reminded me of driving in a snowstorm at night…that sense of isolation. It’s based on evolving and breaking a relationship with fear tools – being indecisive and lacking confidence. It’s about getting in your own way.
“Breathe It In”
by Garrett Kato, Julia Stone
I was the tender age of 16 on the basketball court when I met my first ever girlfriend. She was a little older and we dated what felt like 10 years, but was a little over a year. Towards the one year mark, my friend at the time, Jason was hanging out with us a fair bit. Of course, I found out the hard way when the two of them ended up together. So we, unfortunately, broke up and years later my ex tried to reconnect which was met with thanks, but no thanks. There you have folks a lesson in life, never trust guys named Jason.’ – A poem by Garrett Kato
by Lily Kershaw
I wrote ‘The Sea’ post a relationship ending. I was a bit on the mend but was still in the midst of heartbreak. I wrote it with my friend Jon Bryant. He also sings it with me on the album. It’s funny how when things are over you can’t fully feel them anymore. Experiences posthumously exist in abstraction. I spend my days sitting with the abstract. The moments. Fragments. All the pieces of things. I let them wander back to me in lines and melodies. I’ve always done this. I’ve always been this way. Sometimes I’ll find forgotten things re-appearing in songs. Most days though I find myself wondering what was real at all…. like The Sea says, ‘when we’re older we’ll see it was all in our minds.’
by Stu Larsen
On the 25th of May last year, I got a phone call from my lover. We’d been enduring a rollercoaster ride trying to figure out if we were capable of making things work together and we just couldn’t seem to find ourselves on the same page. It became very clear during the phone call that there was no point going round in circles anymore, so we parted ways. The next day I shaved my beard and wrote this song, just one week before I was due in the studio to record my new album Marigold.
Bloom is anti-valentine, in that it’s not about love, it’s about our response to the obsession of perceived beauty in perfection, if anything, the ‘Love’ that we feel towards perfection is an illusion. ‘Bloom’ encapsulates the self as opposed to the other, it looks at our flaws, rather than looking through those rose-tinted glasses that we’re delivered on the 14th. – Sarah Palmer
by The Still Tide
“Keep It” is about a relationship running its course and the aftermath of the split; how these two try to sort themselves out afterwards,” shares Morsett. “The hope that despite all the mess of the breakup that we keep our hearts open, keep our health and carry ourselves well. I also tried to highlight that weird feeling of watching that person who was once YOUR person go through a tough time but knowing that it isn’t your place to help them through it anymore. That perhaps it’s almost unkind to try to intervene with help in that space of a breakup as helping may just prolong emotional pain. Especially if you were the one to cause it – to break it off –in the first place.
by Future Teens
Swiped Out is about that liminal space where all you want to do is move forward but you don’t know how. It covers everything from the absurd moments to the powerful lows of the post-breakup malaise. I started out writing an exaggerated take on how I was coping with ending a long distance relationship I genuinely believed would be my last. By the time I sat down with the last verse, though, I really did want to set my iPhone on fire, throw myself in the Charles, and run away from everything I was feeling. Instead (with some gentle prodding from my bandmates), I leaned into the intense, heartache fueled nostalgia of trying to remember why you left someone when all you can recall is how much you loved them, and you can’t see things ever getting any better.
“Corazón Partido” is a song about heartbreak about losing your best friend and going through the motions. I wrote this song a couple days after a recent breakup and it was one of the fastest writing sessions I’ve had to date. I remember feeling helpless and broken and just wanted something, someone to make it all go away. I’m no longer at that place (thankfully!) but listening to this song does bring me back to that emotional place which is why I think it’s a special track, it’s honest and vulnerable. “Corazón Partido” is also very meaningful to me because it was the beginning of a new journey, one of healing and self-love. I’ve learned that with heartbreak nobody can glue you back together and only time and taking care of yourself can make you feel better. Self love is my new bf!
by Honey Gentry
“Valentine,” despite its name, is maybe not a love song in the traditional sense… it is about the heartbreaking realisation that you cannot always heal the one you love through the sheer force of your will alone. Bending until you break will not necessarily help the other person. Some of us without even realising take on the role as the healer, the nurturer, taking on our loved ones’ battles and pain as if it were our own… often these lessons are learnt in very painful ways before we wake up to them. We are all ultimately responsible for our own path in life, our own healing, and if we all took that responsibility seriously, our lovers’ emotional lives and our own, would be so much healthier.
by Jack River
“Closer” was written across two years. I wanted to describe the feeling of falling, tripping, awkwardly and slowly walking into the deepest wildest love you have ever found. I find that processes like this happen in fragmented tiny moments, therefore the lyrical structure of the song reflects that – the chorus is pretty lateral and references little moments I experienced of that falling in deep love feeling. I started writing this song on first dates with my partner, and finished writing it the day after we got engaged, it was a song that really asked me to be honest af in the writing. No lies, no lyrics until I had experienced the next part of the story.
by Adam Melchor
The idea for “JEWEL” came from a conversation I had with my sister. I moved to LA about two years ago, and the rest of my family (including her) live on the east coast. I was feeling very down one night so I gave her a call. She was explaining to me how everything will work out if I gave it time. I asked her how she was and she was very calm and just said “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.” She went on to tell me how she really felt in love for the first time with her boyfriend. They decided to move in together and even though it was hard to move, it was all worth it. After I got off the phone with her, I wrote this song about what she told me. Her name is Julie, and growing up I always called her Jewel, so I figured that was a way to start. The lyrics are very happy, so I tried to make the production a bit more somber. In turn, it came out very emotional and I think it really shows both sides of a healthy relationship: love in it’s purest form as a present thing, with the goal of working towards something and knowing it is a difficult task to do so. By the way! They are engaged now.
“Restless,” the love song of our new album, tells the story of a woman who, ravaged by the dark side of love eventually becomes undone. Our own mother’s story of heartbrokenness is at its core, although over the course of its making our own tears fell into the batter. During the writing and recording of “Restless” and the rest of our latest record, our mother heroically faced her own death. Just before her passing she said, “The armor around my heart is now threadbare and blown to the wind.” As “Restless” came to be, it too grew its own wings and found lightness of spirit. The uplifting piano and drums carrying the sombre as CocoRosie tunes often do, pairing bitter-sweet, sunshine and shadow. The production was fun to make. We weren’t alone though; during the final stages of laying it down, we ended up studio-mates with Bobby Sparks and his crew at the epic Sonic Ranch. We asked them to play on the song and they nailed it, playing it live in one take! “Restless” had found its way.
“Magnetic” was inspired by the draw you feel when you fall for someone. It makes you feel almost powerless, as if you have no choice in what’s happening. We’ve all been there… head over heels. Whilst this is an incredible feeling you are also at risk because that kind of love can blind you. That’s where lines like ‘Chew you up and spit you out’ come from. By having the chorus fairly open to interpretation we wanted to use the verses as a place to get direct and put this warning across. There’s nothing more beautiful or more deadly than love. We could have made this track a moody number when it came to production but we wanted it to slam and make people dance and we love how it’s come out! We hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!
by The Magic Lantern
There have been times over the last few years when all I’ve wanted is someone to tell me it was going to be alright – that somehow if we could just go to sleep perhaps things would be better when we woke up. I guess this is both an understandable and entirely naive response to the general anxiety and collective loss of confidence of our present moment. I had the initial seed of this song some years ago and the first verse ‘Gentle Face / How I need you when I make mistakes..’ kept bouncing around my head in quiet moments. Deep down I think I’ve always been searching for the kind of person you could ride out the end of the world with. Happily, it was finally finding them that allowed me to finish the song up in an abandoned castle in Northumbria last year. Bring on the apocalypse!
by Allen Stone
I’ve always felt that love songs are not my expertise. Collecting the right words and expressing the perfect sentiment always seems to be a challenge. But I was recently engaged and had to figure out what I was going to say to my soon to be wife the day of our wedding. After panicking about not having the right words to tell the person you’re about to spend the rest of your life with how much you love them, I took a deep breath, remembered the advice my Pops gave me and something just clicked. I knew exactly what I wanted to say to my wife and this song is a testament to my promises that I made to her.
“Just F*cking Let Me Love You”
“Just F*cking Let Me Love You” started with a couple of phrases my wife had unintentionally poetically spewed out during a passionate disagreement about, who knows what (we can’t even remember). All I know is that her words felt so beautifully heartbreaking that I had to write them down. I had no initial song intentions at that time. Her words were so conversational but they carried so much weight I just wanted to hold onto them. Fast forward to August (2019), when I shared this with two of my best friends (also writer/artists) as we were hanging in my studio – one all nighter and a joint later, Just Fucking Let Me Love You was born. To me, love, and life happen in the in between – and I wanted to take a magnifying glass to what unconditionally loving someone actually feels like. Its not a sugar coated, glossed over in metaphors version of love. It’s close up. It’s every day. It’s in the big and small moments alike, and it never ceases.
by Bandits on the Run
They say that love happens when you’re not looking for it. That is very much the case in the story of how guitarist Adrian Enscoe (aka Roy Dodger) and cellist Sydney Shepherd (aka Bonanza Jellyfish) came to be an item. Both were recent transplants to Brooklyn and were in the thick chaos of figuring out what the hell you’re going to do with your life that blankets your early 20s. Sydney had been brought to the city for a job as an understudy in a Broadway musical; Adrian was producing and performing in an ambitious immersive theater project in the basement of an old hospital building in Brooklyn. Busy schedules on both ends meant that neither had very much space for a full fledged fling in their lives — and yet — on a fateful night when Sydney encountered Adrian busking on an empty L train platform, the lightning of love struck hard and their lives quickly became inextricably intertwined. (The story of that fateful night is the subject of their forthcoming single, “Love in the Underground,” hitting the internet in early March). The following months brought a sort of love-lorn tumult: many tender trysts in the late hours after shows, punctuated by countless Bushwick dramas: an ex moving in across the hall, a funeral for a cat, a party marked by bloodshed. The first 6 months ended with the couple moving in with each other and was marked by this song, “Sweet Thing,” which is about that very chaos in the early days of love; when you want so very much to make your life match someone else’s, when history and habit are such great obstacles, and when you’re willing to twist yourself in knots to please the object of your infatuation. We love to love the pain and make it sweet.
“Love Will Set You Free”
by Brother Moses
Istarted writing this one when I was living in Kansas City and very depressed. Nearly everything in my life was going well but I was feeling an emptiness that wouldn’t go away, especially during the cold winter. My partner was really supportive during that time and helped me make progress towards getting help for myself and turning things around. The song ended up being about that push and pull of trying to “love” your way out of mental illness. It doesn’t really work on its own, but it’s just about the best thing you can do for yourself when you’re realizing you need help – turn to those that love you and hand yourself over. – Brother Moses frontman James Lockhart
by Ships Have Sailed
We all have that person, if we’re lucky more than one, who we know will stick with us no matter what…your ride or die. If our instincts are good, we can recognize that person at first sight, although oftentimes it can take awhile. With ‘Stay’, I wanted to bottle that feeling…that happiness, comfort, safety and love into a dreamy, slightly retro aesthetic…using imagery in the verses (borrowed from my own experiences), and juxtaposed with a more conversational style in the choruses.
“Fallin in Love”
by Willie Shaw
By shear luck I ended up getting in a room with David Evans and he started humming the syncopation to what would become the main chorus line. We were trying to walk a fine line of flirting and romance but not go overkill (I mean, after all, the song says falling in love 41,325 times). Our favorite part is the bridge, because we had such a repetitive hook we wanted to make sure we got away from it for a little bit.
When I wrote the song with David I was still working in the real world so this song wouldn’t be released until about 2 or 3 years after I wrote it. I tried recording it with multiple people and it just wasn’t landing quite right. It became really difficult to find the right balance between the subliminal and emotional side of literally falling in love but not losing the upbeat, dance paced element. After a couple year journey I ended up getting the perfect connection with Robopop.
We briefly talked about where I wanted the song to go and after a while I remember asking “should we just go for it and see where we land?’ He said sure and after a few hours we were done. After years of wrestling with it I finally fell in love with the song.
“No Wonder Why”
by Bradley Arthur Maxwell
How do you write a love song without mentioning the word itself? This, in part, was on my mind as “No Wonder Why” was developing. I decided to challenge myself to avoid the word, while trying to create the feeling of it, to embody the warmth of it, and the wonder of it too. I drew upon snapshots, memories where I truly felt entwined with my surroundings or specific people. Perfect little moments that had me thinking, “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. “ then painting a picture that could belong to anyone.
For me, this kind of love is what illuminates the minutiae of a time and space. And brings to light its unique rhythm, it’s distinctive harmony, it’s pervasive beat – all of which become impossible to forget – for better or worse. The song’s production also expresses these notions through layered ambient instrumentation and vocal harmonies. Ultimately, I see “No Wonder Why” as a celebration of love in whatever form it may come, that is, without having to say the word.
“Back to the Wall”
by Frederick the Younger
I wrote “Back to the Wall” about Aaron and I’s relationship this past year. We spent most of 2019 staying with his parents in Louisville because his dad, very sadly, went on hospice. We wanted to be an support system for his mother. It’s absolutely gut wrenching to watch someone care for a loved one on hospice. Without seeing it firsthand, I would never have known how much work it would be. There were a lot of ups and downs. Heartaches and breakthroughs. A lot of tension. I was also getting allergy shots three times a week because I’m allergic to cats (even though I love cats) and there are six cats in the house. But the shots didn’t work for me. Long story short – it was a trying time for everyone and that’s all just to give you some context of what the song is about. “Automatic shut down, you just put on your headphones, got me spinning circles throwing hooks like a cyclone.” That line is about how Aaron shuts down when we fight about something and then I double down and things get worse. Side note though in case you were wondering – I didn’t actually throw punches, ha. “Tectonic shift I feel a split in drive way / Patience is an art, I always seem to learn the hard way” We would have these awkard fights because we were at his mom’s house and we didn’t want to upset her so we would be fighting outside or quietly in the bedroom. I think we both felt like caged birds sometimes. “Drowning in the blessings but the lesson’s been so hard”. In the end it was one of the most transformative years we’ve ever had. We made it through. We are still together. We moved into an airbnb and things got better. Aaron’s dad is still on hospice and is maintaining and able to talk and make conversation. Aaron’s mom is amazing and I feel fortunate that I had that time to get to know her better because she’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met – calm, intelligent, funny, caring. “You got me feeling” This song is a little snapshot of our relationship in 2019, for better or for worse 🙂
Being in love is the most amazing feeling in the world and I’m lucky enough to say that I get to experience it every day. ‘Follow You’ walks through how I fell in love and how I got to discover what it really means to love someone… From the very first moment that I met my husband, to the many moments where all my faults were laid bare, I’ve been able to experience true love in such a special way. It doesn’t decrease when hard times arise. It has the ability to grow and flourish over time, if you allow it to and put in the work to do so. I think anyone who hears this song can hear how deeply in love I am and I’m excited to continue to watch this love grow.
“Red with Love”
by Pom Pom Squad
I started writing this song on the day I moved into my first apartment with my current partner. We were sitting on the balcony together and I started playing around with a chord progression that seemed to match the overwhelming heart-spilling-over thing I was feeling. My perception of love is often colored by fear – if you’ve listened to my music you could probably surmise that the last few years of my life have been defined by some pretty bad things that happened to me, which has made putting my trust in people really really difficult. For me, this song is about the push/pull of feeling love and also learning to trust it. I am deeply in love and the happiest I’ve ever been, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still deal with the darker parts of my subconscious. I think that’s where the tension of the song comes from.
“Thinking ‘Bout Love”
by Wild Rivers
“Thinking ‘Bout Love” was written about a time in my life when common sense pointed towards ending a relationship. But despite so many factors steering us towards a break up, all I could think about was the relationship we had when we were together. Even when faced with long distance and terrible timing, I was still just the hopeless romantic thinking about love. – Khalid Yassein, Wild Rivers
by Mara Connor
“Wildfire” is about an older guy that I was inexplicably drawn to despite knowing he was trouble. Long before I was interested in him, I witnessed him cheating on his girlfriend at this dimly lit, secret nightclub where no photos are allowed. It was such a Hollywood cliché, something straight out of a bad movie. And after they broke up, our paths kept crossing…mutual friends’ concerts, grocery stores, a restaurant where we were both on separate dates (though he swore she was ‘just a friend’). I couldn’t escape him, and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I felt such an attraction, not in spite of the danger but because of it. During all of this, the notorious Santa Ana’s blew into town and brought this song with them. When he finally asked me out right after Valentine’s Day (for a late night rendezvous), though he was alluring and ‘LA famous,’ a little voice told me to back away from the flame. The next girl he ended up with wrote an album about him and, as predicted, she got burned.
“When We Were Young”
by FM THREAD
The song is ‘When We Were Young’ and it takes place in a small town high school in the midwest. It’s inspired by true events of love. It can be difficult to know what to say to the person you are crushing on – especially when you’ve never done it before. There are no rule books and no guidelines. You rehearse in the mirror at night – “Do you want to go out with me?” It feels silly yet you know it’s right. Then you see them in the hall and your legs get weak. Why is it so difficult? It worked perfectly in your dreams. You remember the friday night football games – bright lights and sugar highs. She was wearing that Wildcat crop top that made your 15 year old mind go wild. The boys were throwing the football back and forth in the mid-summer heat. You said to yourself then – “I love her”. Well at least you though so because she fit perfectly in your arms while you dreamt. And you find yourself dreaming the years away. Then you grew up – and love got complicated. You rode the roller coaster and you felt your heart pump out of your chest for all the right and wrong reasons. Now you sit back and dream of youth – when you were young. Back when love was so daunting and yet somehow much easier. It only takes time to figure that out – to find the sunlight. – Matthew Campbell, FM THREAD
by Corey Kilgannon
This is a song about the difficulties of finding real love in the modern/digital age. I wrote it after I began to correspond with my partner over the internet a few years ago, we would meet up for a few days and it would always leave me sort of heartbroken and empty afterwards. I’d feel such a tremendous longing to see her again, and an uncertainty if love could really work out across the continent. Social media allows us to connect with everyone everywhere all the time, making it that much harder to really commit to one person in the end. It’s a song about the deep feelings I had for her (my now fiance!) and asks for “intimacy in the narrative” and to be “taken out of the digital age”. It’s not a straightforward love song, but love in our time has gotten less and less simple. I kept a polaroid taken of us laughing the deep belly laugh of early love “eternally” taped to the wall by my bed and counted down the days until I’d see her again. Eventually I succumbed completely by moving up to Seattle to be with her. I think that though social media has the capability, perhaps even the tendency, to cheapen love, it can also open doors to people we would have never had the chance to meet if we have the guts to really chase after it.
by Dan Edmonds
“Beside You” came from experiences in my life, of falling in and out of love with someone. The song details the highs and lows of that relationship, with an emphasis on the pain that one can feel when you’re in love. I think the reason why this song continues to resonate with me, is because it comes from real life, real emotion, real love.
“Where I Know You”
by Hayley Reardon
I wrote this song after an emotional and eventful road trip with my partner at the time. It’s a little ode to those fleeting moments of clarity in which living and loving and relating to people feels so simple and pure — where we see and feel the whole of someone & it somehow brings us closer to ourselves. I think that’s the real magic of being in love – feeling so connected to the truth of that person that you can’t help but uncover missing pieces of your own heart in the process. The lyric says “I just want to hold you there, the whole of you, and keep you where its quiet – keep you where I know you.” It’s about wanting to freeze time and linger in that place of connection and knowing for as long as you possibly can.
“I Like Your Way”
by Heart Bones
“Randy heard me screaming your name in the bathroom. I’ll be grounded for a year.” This is one of the first songs we wrote together, so we were just getting to know each other. Randy, we concurred, is definitely a step-dad/step-mom name.
“You’ve always been suspicious you’re gonna die like Jesus, naked, when you’re 33.” These lyrics sound like opening lines from a Chuck Palahnuik novel. Perhaps we were testing each other, to see if we could shock each other with guttural, confessional lyrics about our neuroses. The song takes us from teenage hunger for chunky peanut butter and porno to savior complexes to conspiracy theories to daddy issues. It’s basically a confessional of our quirks, our hang ups, our secrets, in the package of a dance song.
“Sean, do we have to say ‘chunky peanut butter?’”
“If you get to say a line about naked Jesus, I get to say chunky peanut butter.” During this early phase of collaborative writing, two distinct personalities were learning to find compromise. We could take risks together if the risks didn’t defy either of our boundaries. The fact that the obscure line from a Har Mar song, “You were my soul, my jelly roll!” always gets stuck in my head has been high collateral for trust when it comes to risky lyric writing with Sean.
The neurotic novelist might be a dying breed, replaced by the self-aware podcaster, but no matter how humanity evolves, we can never have too many songs about dancing. So, we hope you enjoy “I Like Your Way.”
by Steve Umculo
“Just Kids” tells the story of someone who questions the dynamic of their relationship once they have realised that their partner is more involved with their phone than with them. As this idea and the song started to develop, I started to reflect on simpler times of when I was a kid and I didn’t have an addiction to a device. When I was free to focus on the people around me and seemingly trivial things like staring up at the stars. I also started to reflect on the relationships I have had and how, when they start out, I only had eyes for my partner with no peripheral distractions. Inevitably, this feeling slightly fades but that does not mean we should allow our focus to be taken over by a device. We must always strive to have time for those we love. I asked Kiruna-Lind to help me finish off the song and she brought such a beautiful innocence and nostalgic quality to make my lament about humanity a positive and hopeful duet.