Q: Hi! What inspired you to write “Better if You Died,” and what message do you hope listeners take away from the song?
A: Better If You Died is written around the idea of a tortured artist creating the best art. The idea that a lot of our favorite music and movies highlight tragedy and often personal tragedy experienced by the artists themselves. If you think of Sam Smith or Adele, some of their most successful and revered albums were centered around their own experiences with heartbreak, and I think some would argue that their art hasn’t reached those same heights since entering a life of stardom and comfort. So the idea is that the song Better If You Died would itself be better if I had experienced the personal tragedy of a friend dying. But underlying that is hopefully a message that you should just call your friends that you’ve lost touch with, cause they aren’t dead, and they still think of you and hope you are well. Case and point, after releasing this song I’ve had a few friends reach out to me that I had lost touch with, and it was great to catch up and hear from them.
Q: Can you describe your songwriting process for “Better if You Died” and how it may have differed from your other works?
A: Better If You Died was a bit unique in terms of the writing process. I created the instrumental and even chorus melody before having any lyrics in mind, and I had actually started it a few years prior to Insider at a point when I hadn’t yet found my niche in musical comedy. Then while writing for Insider I took a look at some of my old projects/melodies and this one stuck out as having some promise. At the same time I had been writing lyrics for a song about the “cruel” irony of my privileged upbringing making the likelihood of me creating great art pretty low. From the combination of those lyrics and the aforementioned melody came Better If You Died.
Q: How has your background in music influenced your songwriting and the sound of “Better if You Died”?
A: I came up in music well into the digital era, with all sorts of digital audio plugins and effects abound. So for better or worse I don’t shy away from inorganic sounds. For example, the vocal processing on Better If You Died (at least for the chorus) is pretty heavy, giving a robotic or auto-tuned kind of sound to the chorus vocals. This gives Better If You Died a more electronic pop kind of sound that I enjoy.
Q: What challenges did you face while creating “Better if You Died,” and how did you overcome them?
A: One of the biggest challenges I faced writing this song was figuring out the bridge. I had initially had a much sappier, don’t take your friends for granted kind of themed bridge, cause at that time, post-pandemic, I was still grappling with the fact that some of my closest friendships in life had really just quietly faded away. But it didn’t really sit well, it felt a little preachy or too saccharine. So instead I really leaned into the initial joke of wishing I had experienced tragedy so I could write better music, and I think it turned out a lot better for it.
Q: Are there any specific artists or genres that have influenced your music, particularly in the creation of “Better if You Died”?
A: Yes, this song initially was meant to be a soundalike for a song I really like: I Like Me Better by Lauv. The chorus melody was one I came up with to be analogous to the synth melody in I Like Me Better, but then when I repurposed the melody, it became the chorus melody where I sing “Better, it’d be better if you died”
Q: How do you feel your music has evolved since you first started your career, and how does “Better if You Died” reflect that growth?
A: One of the biggest evolutions for all of the music in Insider was discovering comedy music. Previously, I couldn’t finish a song to save my life cause I’d always tell myself I just needed to find a better melody or the perfect words and nothing was ever good enough. Eventually, I’d get frustrated and give up on the song, much like I did with the original concept for Better If You Died. However, once I started writing comedy songs where the music and lyrics just serve as a way to get a joke across, I was suddenly able to take so much pressure off of those parts of my songs, and just write what came to me without worrying if there was a better melody or more poetic lyrics.
Q: Can you share any memorable experiences or stories from the recording process of “Better if You Died”?
A: I had a lot of fun stacking the harmonies for the “But we lost touch” parts. I wanted them to sound like several people singing, almost like a choir, but the first attempts sounded a little too similar, like just one person singing with some extra layers kinda thickening up the sound rather than multiple people singing simultaneously. So my vocal coach taught me a trick for that, where you try to imitate different voice types to help differentiate the different parts/singers more. It was a lot of fun trying on all sorts of different weird voices when singing those parts/harmonies and it really helped sell the group aspect of those vocal parts.
Q: What role does social media, such as Instagram, play in your career and connecting with your fans?
A: Social media and I have a very love hate relationship. I’ve never been a big social media guy so I don’t relish the self-promotion aspects, but I know it’s such a great way to get out there and connect with people that are fans of the music. And I know I need to be posting way more often, but it’s just hard, I don’t want to put anything out there that I’m not proud of, and I haven’t quite figured out how to do that 3 or 4 times a week, but I’m working on it!
Q: Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re excited about that you can share with us?
A: Yes, I’m very excited to have a couple more of my favorite songs from Insider coming out soon, one called Pieces of Sh*t (not sure if I can swear, but also not sure if one little asterisk in the middle helps at all lol) that was one of the first songs I wrote for Insider, and has a very fun music video (or at least I had fun shooting the music video). I’m also writing new music, and starting to work on new material that may turn into some kind of follow up collection or just get released as singles, I haven’t quite decided yet.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who look up to you and your work, like “Better if You Died”?
A: I would say find better inspirations! No, just kidding, I would say if you’re like me and get frustrated with being creative or struggle to finish songs, try playing with the format until you find something you love. I realized I couldn’t write pop music because I didn’t really love pop music, I just wanted the potential accolades or the fame and money that comes with writing a hit pop song. But I actually love writing comedy songs, I like the freedom of it, the permission to be silly that it gives me, and it really helped me recapture a love for being creative.