Song Breakdown: Emotional Labor

Song Breakdown: Emotional Labor

Jun 05, 2022


The music for this song (and for the entire EP) was written to be as simple as I could make it while still conveying some sense of emotion and meaning. “Boom” actually started off as two separate songs - the main riff was one and the bridge was the other. The more the lyrics came out for each, the more I realized how much they fit together. And so it goes.

During the recording, I was able to use one of Brack’s synths on the chorus (I think it was a Juno). Brack also suggested that I harmonize in octaves (rather than thirds or fifths) during the chorus as well, a trick that I love using ever since then.

Lyrically, it was inspired by a relationship that I felt was starting to run it’s course. In my life, when things have ended or gone away, it’s been easy to fall into self delusion with thoughts of how good things could be if only.. [insert unrealistic scenario here]. It’s a type of empty promise one can make with themselves or to someone they “love” to make pretend that things can one day get better. Repeating the word “someday” at the end represented a willful ignorance to that delusion.

Emotional Labor

This one was both cut/dry and cryptic for me. On one hand, I knew I was talking about the idea of emotional labor… taking on other people’s pain while draining your own energy for the sake of trying to make something work. The lyrics address anger, manipulation… being so fed up of the two that it makes you physically sick (I.e. the line about vomiting). But on the flip side, there’s also the deluded speculation of “… is this all worth it? Will this lead to something good?” No. The answer is no.

Musically, this is one of the only songs that I can remember actually POUNDING out the chords when I wrote it. I knew I wanted it to be heavy and I knew I wanted it to be loud. When I recorded it with Brack (Cantrell), he told me we were in Shoegaze territory, and he ran with it. The guitar noise tracks were Brack’s idea. He had me do trills high on the neck, while he was on the ground turning knobs of the reverb and delay pedals he had me plugged into. I remember it was storming while we were recording the noise tracks, which definitely made it feel like a vibe.

Never Gonna Wait

In short, this song is my love letter to defeatism. A long list of things I might never be or never see or never do. I honestly find the song really funny, but I can see how some might take it as self loathing, which to me, can be hilarious.

The part I find funniest about the song is that it sounds so bouncy and nice. I was definitely thinking of the band Real Estate when playing the lead riff after the chorus. The sound of the drums was enough to reveal it as a joke song. They’re so gated in that 80s Bon Jovi way. I’ve just always liked the idea of pairing really bleak lyrics with bright sounding melody.

Supposed To Be

I had been playing around with the main riff for years before committing it to a song. Definitely another Real Estate inspired riff, which someone told me later on also sounded like Coldplay. Which is… fine.

The lyrics came pretty much all at once a few days before I had to record them. I always start melodies with what Jeff Tweedy would call “mumble tracks” - mumbles in place of where lyrics should be. I was mumbling through this one to the bitter end, which can be good and bad. The lyrics aren’t my favorite. They ask the question of “who am I supposed to be? Is it possible to be multiple things at once?” Some of it is pretty trite. But the intonation of the syllables with the melody worked enough that I just stuck with them. It ended up tying the EP up together quite nicely. That is, it brought it back to where I started. Wanting to go somewhere else, be somewhere else in hopes that something new will come my way. Fun fact, I ended up moving to Dallas after we finished recording.

I still see this EP as a kind of farewell to my time in Denton - to the collect of people I met and embodied during that time. Hopefully it can feel the same for someone else, someday.


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