“There’s something both awful and liberating about it”: NYC’s BAILEN Are Crying on the Subway, but “You Would Never Know”

BAILEN © Erica Snyder
BAILEN (left to right): David, Daniel, and Julia Bailen © Erica Snyder
Sibling trio BAILEN chat about crying in public, their favorite (and least favorite) New York City subway lines, and the making of “You Would Never Know,” the achingly intimate, breathtakingly beautiful and cathartic confessional taken off their expanded sophomore album, ‘Tired Hearts (Deluxe Edition)’.
Stream: “You Would Never Know” – BAILEN




I spend a lot of time traveling, a lot of time saying goodbye, and I don’t know if there’s a better place to be crying than just fully anonymously in public. There’s something both awful and liberating about it.

No one does emotional vulnerability quite as beautifully as BAILEN.

Simultaneously exposed and raw, elegant and refined, the New York City trio radiate heartfelt harmonies as they dwell in life’s intimate depths, picking apart the delicate intricacies of the human experience – all those feelings we tend not to talk about, but have felt plenty of times throughout our lives.

BAILEN let their inner light shine especially bright on “You Would Never Know,” a tender, achingly intimate and brutally vulnerable song featured on the recently-released expanded edition of their 2023 sophomore album, Tired Hearts (Deluxe). An enchanting eruption of inner turmoil and words unspoken, “You Would Never Know” finds siblings Julia, Daniel, and David Bailen spilling bruised hearts through rich, radiant melodies and breathtaking harmonies that send shivers down the spine. It’s a cathartic confessional that fits perfectly within Tired Hearts’ themes of “finding the beauty in all of that struggle,” as Julia poetically put it to me last year.

Tired Hearts (Deluxe Edition) - BAILEN
Tired Hearts (Deluxe Edition) – BAILEN

“The greatest act of love is to take your partner to the airport – even if it breaks your heart,” the band have said of this song, which was inspired by an emotional trip on A train headed to JFK.

“My boyfriend moved to England a couple years ago, and that song was about literally taking him to the airport when he was first leaving,” Julia explains. “After spending quarantine together, and just processing that separation super differently, and being on the train like it was any other day… but you’re saying goodbye, and putting an ocean between yourself and the person that you love. And yeah, there was a couple sitting behind us that probably just picked up everything that they were wearing from REI, just making out really hard. So I made it into the song.”

BAILEN © Erica Snyder
BAILEN (left to right): Daniel, Julia, and David Bailen © Erica Snyder



Starting mid-story (or really, at the tail-end of the story), “You Would Never Know” opens with an homage to the trio’s hometown and the tug of an impending, hard goodbye:

JFK is five more stops away
And there’s five hundred different things that
we won’t have time to say

And there’s a couple over there making out
like they’re begging us to stare

It’s killing me; is it killing you?

As soon as everything’s begun, it starts to breakdown – and BAILEN erupt into an enchanting, vulnerable, and cathartic confessional, their three voices resonating together in beautiful, bone-chilling harmony.

You’ve been saving it for never
Holding it together
But you would never know
I’ve been crying on the subway
Dealing with it my way
I can’t help that it shows
Somewhere underneath your silence
I can see the pain you’re fighting
But you would never know…

BAILEN Discuss 'Tired Hearts,' a Breathtaking Record of Struggle, Connection, Hope, & Raw Humanity

:: INTERVIEW ::



Tired Hearts is full of this kind of diaristic songwriting channeled through warm, wondrous sound.

It’s one of BAILEN’s best qualities that they can find harness their combined talents and lived experiences to shine a light on life’s dark moments – or rather, to turn emotional pain into musical beauty.

And perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to this song; “You Would Never Know” is BAILEN at their best, unpacking heartache, self-doubt, longing, and more one second, one step, and one note at a time.

“The song is just about place and separation anxiety, honestly,” Julia Bailen shares. “I feel like I’ve cried on most modes of transportation at this point in my life. I spend a lot of time traveling, a lot of time saying goodbye, and I don’t know if there’s a better place to be crying than just fully anonymously in public. There’s something both awful and liberating about it. Are you really a New Yorker if you haven’t cried on the subway? I think answer is a very profound no.”

Atwood Magazine caught up with BAILEN in the midst of their North American springtime tour to chat about their beautiful new song, crying in public, and their favorite (and least favorite) New York City subway lines. Their may have tired hearts, but speaking to us from the road up in the Pacific Northwest, their spirits had never seemed higher.

Jumping off the edge without a parachute
Though I’m a million miles away I’ll take that jump too
I helped you pack your bags and I wish I could unpack you
Tearing at the seams ’cause I don’t know what I mean to you
You’ve been saving it for never
Holding it together
But you would never know
I’ve been crying on the subway
Dealing with it my way
I can’t help that it shows
Somewhere underneath your silence
I can see the pain you’re fighting
But you would never know…

— —

:: stream/purchase Tired Hearts (Deluxe) here ::
:: connect with BAILEN here ::
Stream: “You Would Never Know” – BAILEN



CATCHING UP WITH BAILEN

Tired Hearts (Deluxe Edition) - BAILEN

Atwood Magazine: Hey BAILEN, how’s your tour going?! Do any highlights stand out thus far?

Julia Bailen: Well, we played The Troubadour and that was really, really fun. That was a really wonderful show, and it’s such a legendary venue. LA is such a party, it was so much fun. All the shows have been really great. San Francisco was awesome, DC was totally packed. I had no idea we had so many people there they wanted to come see us, so that was really, really fun and surprising!

Great to hear! Well, last time we spoke it was pre-tour and pre-album release. What's it been like to put the show and the album on the road and play these songs live? How's that been?

Julia Bailen: It’s been so much fun! I love playing these songs live. They take on a totally new life of their own.

Daniel Bailen: They’re different!

Julia Bailen: Yeah, they’re different, for the record, and I like that there’s something… Shows are so private these days, ’cause the rest of your musical life is on the internet for everyone to look at. So, it’s nice to do these versions of the songs that are for the people that show up, and that’s really cool. And we’ve been playing them, a lot of them, long enough that they’re starting to feel so comfortable, and we can just have a lot of freedom with them. So that’s been super fun.

BAILEN © Erica Snyder
BAILEN © Erica Snyder

Have any of them surprised you in terms of how they've transformed or taken on a life of their own?

Julia Bailen: Yeah, some of them really did a lot of changing. We’ve been opening the set with a song called “Leave Me Wanting More,” and that’s on the record. And it’s a pretty demure song on the record, but it’s a banger live. It’s really fun to play. And yeah, I feel like we’ve changed the setup, and the set list is really, really great. It’s just been fun. Yeah, we’ve been doing a portion of the set around a mic, and just super acoustic, which is my favorite thing to do. So that’s been lovely.

That's awesome. I caught the LPR show last year when the album had just come out, and I remember being really, really taken by “Leave Me Wanting More.” And that's also when “These Bones” became my favorite song on the album, because it's such a soft and quiet song on the record, but live, it's still soft, but it's so loud.

Julia Bailen: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were just listening to a board recording of the New York show the other day. What a lot of trouble making that song work for live, because it’s so intimate on the record, so we were trying to figure out a way to make it feel like a hug live. And it’s really starting to like we really hit our stride with that song live, and it’s been so, so, so beautiful.

That's amazing. I want to switch gears and talk about “You Would Never Know.” I'm honestly surprised this song didn't make the initial album cut. Was it finished after the fact, or were you just saving the best for last?

Julia Bailen: No, it didn’t make the cut because we had so many songs. I feel like by the end of deciding what to keep and what to not keep, it was a little bit ‘put the blindfold on and just go for it.’ So, it got made with the rest of the record.

Daniel Bailen: It was one of the later songs that we wrote.

Julia Bailen: Yeah, it was one of the later songs that we wrote, so it didn’t have as long to work its way into our hearts. But I think making the deluxe record is as good. I think it’s getting its own moment because of that. It’s cool.

Daniel Bailen: Yeah, the way that record cycles work these days in Spotify, it’s almost as if you release it separately, it gets its own moment more than if it’s just on the album So, I like how it ended up like that, ’cause it is a special song to us now that it’s just been with us. We’ve been playing it on the road, too. It’s been really fun, because we don’t have that many songs live where we’re really singing softly, but together, and take our harmony the whole way through, and it’s a nice change in the set.

That's absolutely awesome. It's made its way into my heart as well. What's the story behind the song? Is it based on a true story?

Julia Bailen: Yeah, so, I feel like I have a lot of songs in my arsenal now that are about just, obviously, working through something. My boyfriend moved to England a couple years ago, and that song was about literally taking him to the airport when he was first leaving. After spending quarantine together, and just processing that separation super differently, and being on the train like it was any other day, but you’re saying goodbye, and putting an ocean between yourself and the person that you love. And yeah, there was a couple sitting behind us that probably just picked up everything that they were wearing from REI, just making out really hard. So I made it into the song. We wrote a version of it and then brought it to a session with this really wonderful writer, Amy Wadge, who is just a heavy hitter. She’s one of Ed Sheeran’s main songwriter collaborators and she is just an icon. We finished that with her and it was really cool.

Yeah. She's obviously best known for co-writing “Thinking Out Loud” among others. What was it like to work together with her?

Julia Bailen: She’s just brilliant. She is so, so warm and lovely and kind and just full of ideas. Just so quick and really, really lovely. Yeah.

Do you guys do a lot of writing sessions like that? I imagine having three people who are all songwriters, every day is like a writing session in itself.

Julia Bailen: Yeah, it’s a lot of people in a room when we do writing sessions, but it’s fun. It’s, I think, nice to have a different voice outsider come in, and —

Daniel Bailen: Shake things up.

Julia Bailen: Yeah, shake things up a little bit. We don’t do a lot of it… we did a lot of it during the pandemic, because that’s what people could do. But I wouldn’t say it’s something that we do a ton, because we write a lot ourselves – but it is really fun!

BAILEN © Erica Snyder
BAILEN © Erica Snyder

I love the inclusion of New York City landmarks like JFK and the subway. Obviously, these are a natural part of your life, but was there any conscious part of you that was like, “Yeah, I'm talking about my home city” in the song too?

Julia Bailen: I don’t know. The song is just about place and separation anxiety, honestly. I feel like I’ve cried on most modes of transportation at this point in my life. I spend a lot of time traveling, a lot of time saying goodbye, and I don’t know if there’s a better place to be crying than just fully anonymously in public. There’s something both awful and liberating about it. Are you really a New Yorker if you haven’t cried on the subway? Is my question.

… I think answer is a very profound no. I feel like there have been several times in my life where I was crying in public for sure in New York and somebody fully came up to me and was like, “Are you okay?” And I had to be like, “That is rude of you, sir. I am having my day. Okay? Please leave me alone.”

Julia Bailen: Yeah, you’re not from here. You obviously haven’t done this yourself.

We don't do that here.

Julia Bailen: No, no. We don’t willingly give people emotional support on the subway… Although sometimes it’s nice though. Sometimes you’re like, ‘No, sorry. I needed to lash out at somebody and just tell them, ‘No, I’m fine.’

I want to talk about chorus lyric for a second. “Somewhere underneath your silence I can see the pain you're fighting, but you would never know.” Can you tell me about that line?

Julia Bailen: I date somebody that’s very emotionally good at compartmentalizing things, and I’m not. So I think that’s what that’s about. We just process sadness in a really different way and loneliness in a different way. So yeah, I think that I was just speaking to that and just the — Yeah, that sometimes it’s hard to not see your own version of emotional processing reflected back at you by the person that you’re with. And, yeah, learning to understand that as also a part of being with somebody.

BAILEN © Erica Snyder
BAILEN © Erica Snyder

Say what you will about us New Yorkers, but we definitely wear our hearts on our sleeves. So, what inspired the decision to finally put this out with deluxe? And are there any highlights for you in this song that really stand out and make it special?

Julia Bailen: I wanted it to be out in world at some point in some fashion, and I’m glad that we did a deluxe, so that it could live on the record in its entirety. I think the part that sticks out for me is probably the bridge the most. That is just a beautiful melody that Daniel wrote. We needed a bridge and it was harvested from a different version of a different song. And you can hear that in “Love You Blind” actually in the windowsill version of “Love You Blind”. The bridge of that song changed in the recording and it had previously been the melody that’s in “You Would Never Know” now.

You make it look so easy, don't you?

Julia Bailen: Yeah. It was that melody. And you can hear that melody in windowsill version in the slide. So those are twin flames there. They changed a lot during the record process, but made it back into it in their own ways, and I just love that melody so much. Also, David hits maybe the highest note he’s ever sung in that bridge. I don’t know. It just has a vibe. It’s really magical. Yeah.

Daniel Bailen: The real controversy was, did you go to JFK or Newark?

Julia Bailen: It was JFK.

Daniel Bailen: Or a New York City subway trip.

Julia Bailen: Yeah, so it was the A train. We were on the A train.

I want to give you props for taking public transit to the airport.

Julia Bailen: Oh, my god. Let’s talk about public transit for a minute. Yeah. I love public transit.

Daniel Bailen: The things I’ll do to avoid a cab to the airport.

Julia Bailen: Yeah. No way. I love taking public transit to the airport. It’s such a bummer when I have too much stuff to do it by myself, but it’s one of the things that makes me feel most smug about being a New Yorker, that basically nowhere else in our country can you take public transit to the airport in such an easy way. It’s so easy. So yeah, for sure. I’m all about that. I spent my whole life on the 1 train, which I feel like is the softest train. Nothing ever really goes down on the 1 train… except that one accident where the train crashed, which is not great.

I always used to commute down from the 1 on the Upper West Side, and it was awful. It's almost as bad as the fact that there is a 23rd and a 28th street stop for the 6.

Julia Bailen: Yeah. Yeah. It is silly. It used to be smaller. I feel like the A / C is probably my favorite.

Oh, what's your least favorite?

Julia Bailen: Probably the F, honestly.

Daniel Bailen: E train always is there, but I never need it. It’s the best working train that I never need to use. It’s a great train. I should schedule my life around that train.

Julia Bailen: That’s so true. Well, because of my long-distance relationship, I’m quite well-versed in the London transit system too, and their system is definitely better than ours – it’s so reliable. It’s so reliable. The only thing is that it closes at 12:30.

Thank you all so much for catching up today. Julia especially, thank you for sharing so much about the story behind this beautiful song!

— —

:: stream/purchase Tired Hearts (Deluxe) here ::
:: connect with BAILEN here ::
Stream: “You Would Never Know” – BAILEN



 

— — — —

Tired Hearts (Deluxe Edition) - BAILEN

Connect to BAILEN on
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Erica Snyder

:: Stream BAILEN ::



More from Mitch Mosk
Adulting Made Easy(ish): Erez Zobary’s “Stuck!” Is a Soul-Pop Soundtrack to Our Quarter-Life Crisis
A cinematic soul-pop soundtrack to our quarter-life crisis, Erez Zobary's new single...
Read More