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A few years ago, a friend told me, “The hardest thing to be is yourself." It seemed like such an unusual thing to say, but also rang at least partly true. By the time you’re an adult, it can be difficult even to identify which parts of yourself have been shaped by social pressures; which parts you might habitually exaggerate or play down; and which parts have changed since you last took a serious look behind the curtain. I’m a pretty candid songwriter—most of my lyrics are lived, personal stories—but I’ve also been a musician who went to great lengths to be taken seriously. When I first joined Doomtree, I didn’t want to sing too much, because I worried about being dismissed as the girl who only sang choruses. I’m goofy off stage, but on record I was writerly, deliberate. I wanted to seem smart, wanted to seem skillful. And thinking about how you’d like to be perceived is different than thinking about how to best express who or what you really are.
Writing the lyrics for Chime involved heading into territory I don’t usually go as a songwriter: there’s some humor, a rap song about my experiences traveling alone as a woman, one about my grandmother’s death, and one unapologetic pop song—because I love pop too, dammit. The album includes beats by some of my favorite Doomtree producers (Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter), but also involved a new collaborator, Andy Thompson. He added new sounds and melodies to the record and pushed me to use my voice differently for stronger, more expressive vocal takes. Two of the beats on the album were submitted by people I’ve never met, who responded to my call for mid-tempo production on Facebook, Anagram Norton and Chance Lewis. Chime is also the first album on which I produced a couple of tracks myself—a fact of which I am senselessly, insufferably proud. (In my eagerness to be included in producer shoptalk, Beak, mostly affectionately, referred to me as New Beatmaker during our late-night sessions in Andy’s basement.)
There are deliberate, writerly moments on this record, because I’m a writer and a neurotic. But nobody is just one thing. I’m also a daughter and a science nerd and a single woman in her thirties and an American freaked out by the stories on the news. And, in this particular moment, I am a person feeling excited, proud, and nervous to be a little more fully herself.