I’m a bit of a recluse when it comes to writing music. I set my expectations for my music and myself so high, it’s hard to step back and not expect the same unrealistic perfection from others. I find it’s more exhausting to worry about their vision and work than it is to just create all the parts of the song myself. I’m also a traditionalist; I like patterns, coherency, habits, and routines. I feel the most in control when I know what to expect. This recurring lifestyle is something that offers comfort and safety. It’s also impractical when you’re chasing a dream.
I really had to step out of my comfort zone for this album. I had never written music with anybody else before. Typically I would sit down with my piano, guitar, or GarageBand, and build a song that I was 100% responsible for and 100% owned. For Bright White Trims it was no longer just I in the room. There was Mike, my producer, and a third party that did little in the way of contributing. I found out rapidly that I disliked writing with a second writer, not to say that they weren’t talented and accomplished in their vocation, but because they knew little about my interests and what inspired me to create.
Fortunately, Mike Gonsolin, my producer, seemed to be just as driven by his artistry as me. Mike and I worked like yin and yang from the get go; always seeking musical and creative advancement. Mike is what I would call a musical soul mate, as he’s quite nearly read my mind the entire time we’ve worked together and acted as an ally from the very beginning. It was as if I walked into his studio and we both silently decided that we had found our partner that would take us to the next level. He listened to me, which was different. As a young female, I had become accustomed to having to back up my thoughts and opinions with case A, B, and C. Mike listened to me, took my criticism, suggested chords and synths just as I was thinking them, and commended me as a colleague and not a teenage girl with a hobby. It’s refreshing, that kind of mutual respect we had, and still have for each other. The album wouldn’t have been possible without his delicate touch and inaudible encouragement. We started a business together and I believe that we will take it all the way.
Mike forced me out of my comfort zone a lot like I forced him out of his. I came into the first session with an EP made up of five moody, dark songs all spanning four and half or more minutes in length. He came into the first session with little knowledge, but piqued interest, about the ambient pop movement I desired to become a part of, with tracks in the style of Troye Sivan, Lorde, Banks, Nick Jonas, G-Eazy, and PARTYNEXTDOOR. I had never written a song under four minutes and he had never produced a song with quite the vibe that I had hoped to channel. Instead of trying to conform and figure out a way to create inside of our current (at the time) security blankets, we thrived. We put our heads together and created something that pushed us farther than we had gone before. It wasn’t contentious. It was harmonious.
I have a very intimate and personal relationship with this album. During it’s conception I gave my all emotionally and spiritually. I exercised my creative outlets so diligently that I regularly had to take time off to make up for their depletion. While the process may come naturally to me, it’s ineffective when I am feeling uninspired, and I only feel uninspired when I am fatigued. Being well rested and renewed makes way for creative spontaneity, which I will always account for my best moments.
I knew that I wanted this album to be driven on a gray line. I wanted there to be elements of each genre in its eight songs because I wanted there to be something for each type of listener’s ear. I wanted something that would flow peacefully but with great determination to relate to my audience’s lives. I was all sorts of angry when I was writing. At the time I had a lot of people in my life that felt disappointing to me. I work well with disappointment and being replaced because I know how to describe those feelings the best. Darker music speaks to me on a level that happy, bright, and colorful music does not, specifically because it’s driven by ugly emotions. As somebody who spent the majority of her teenage life trapped in depression or mental instability, I find that deeper tones inspire me the most.
Mike, one of the second writers, and I started the journey with “King’s Cup,” which really set the mood for the whole album. Mike and I ended the journey, exclusively, with “Juicebox Season,” which felt conclusive in a way, almost positive and representative of the artistic and allied maturity we had reached as a team. All eight of the songs were created under very stressed and combative circumstances, majorly because it felt like the other people in the room were distracted and busy with their own internal warfare.
I am a people reader, and when I meet somebody I immediately assess his or her energy. If you haven’t guessed by now, I struggled during the entire process to keep my cool and cooperate with the second writers. It was hard to work with their tortured and jumpy energies in the room. I felt that I was battling their egos more than I was challenging their creative conquests. If anything good came out of it, it was that I flourished with the added pressure because it gave me the necessary motivation to write brilliant lyrics and melodies before they could get a word in edgewise. Call it stubborn or call it commitment to my work, I wanted those songs to be mine and felt strangely territorial during their creation. Even though I can recognize the second writers’ successes, their lack of connection to the art side of the music industry rubbed me the wrong way. When money is the only motivating factor, it’s clear that artistry will only go so far as to create something that is fake, catchy, and unrealistic.
My goal is to always write music that is real and honest. Music that doesn’t just scratch the surface but delves deep into the archives of my soul. This is what sets me apart from other artists and what lost the second writers. Music is a form of expression. What I write has to have a message, emotion, and hold power behind its words. I want the material I create to resonate with others. My lyrics might have a specific story backing it, but it doesn’t mean the lessons I learned are any less relevant to somebody who experienced something entirely different, yet still finds that the songs speak to them and their situation. You don’t need to go through what I experienced to love the songs. I hope, ultimately, that you will take away positivity, encouragement, and inspiration from each song. I want you to know that as an artist and a person, I hear you, I see you, and I believe in you. My music isn’t just a gift for me as much as it is for those who respond well to its messages and originality.
Although the creation of Bright White Trims was messy, the process was necessary for my own personal growth. I learned a lot about myself and about the industry. Even though there are certain aspects to the album that I fear being released, I have never felt more alive and accomplished than I do right now, a week out from my set release date. The only reason I am scared is because I chose to be brutally honest and put myself completely out there, and that is something I should praise. I did that for my own benefit as well as for my listeners’, because I know that when I am at my weakest and happiest, I choose a song to either celebrate with or relate to. I hope that my music can be that comfort for you.