Tomberlin Breaks Down Every Song on Her New Album ‘i don’t know who needs to hear this…’

    There’s something spellbinding about the way that Tomerlin’s music opens up a space for whatever passes through it, no matter how big or small, and makes it feel sacred. Since releasing her striking 2018 debut At Weddings, the singer-songwriter has been making songs as vulnerable as they are intentional and as gentle as they are layered. She’s able to tap into a feeling almost like an outside observer, watching as it grows and fades and falls back into view, and her music invites you to sit still and take stock of the things that can slip through the cracks in a fast-moving, relentlessly unpredictable world. She wrestles with feelings of isolation and anxiety but finds comfort in the solitude of nature, paying close attention to what her surroundings have to offer without seeking easy answers.

    After refining her sound on 2020’s Projections EP, she returns today with her sophomore album, i don’t know who needs to hear this…, which was recorded live at Brooklyn’s Figure 8 studio and co-produced with Phil Weinrobe, who’s worked on the solo records of Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek. Filled with impeccable, subtly moving arrangements, the album expands her palette just enough for us to follow her stream of thoughts as she untangles them, like turning conversations into movie scenes and then replaying them in your mind. Sometimes, even she’s surprised by the role she’s cast herself in: “I’m not a singer, I’m just someone who’s guilty,” she sings on ‘tap’. “Remind me that I don’t have to be anything.” It’s one of the many revelations that come naturally on idkwntht, but it’s not a disheartening one. It’s a record built with the greatest trust, care, and patience, one whose resonance echoes through and beyond the tentative hope of its title.

    We caught up with Tomberlin to talk about the story behind every song on her new album, i don’t know who needs to hear this…. Listen to the album and read our track-by-track interview below.

    1. easy

    The synth here is kind of an imposing way to start the album. It immediately introduces the conflict of the song, this sense of uneasiness about being misunderstood. Was that the intention behind it?

    Definitely. All the songs I wrote on guitar on my own and then when we brought them to the studio. This song specifically, I was like, “I don’t want this to be a guitar song.” I felt like it needed more depth that the synth could bring. I knew that I kind of wanted it to be more electronic-leaning and we were messing around with the Juno – that’s the main synth for that. Sonically, I wanted it to be a bit eerie. I think we started and finished that song in a day, most of the live tracking. I mean, it came about pretty easily [laughs], like, the shift from bringing it from just an acoustic guitar song to that. Phil Weinrobe, who produced the record with me, we kind of built a language in the studio the two weeks that we were there, and he just honed in really quickly on the vibe that I was going for. I feel like a lot of Radiohead songs are similar in the way that they use electronics for building depth and space. It’s a simple element in a way, but it draws you in. It’s like a tunnel, you’re kind of twisting and turning and you can’t quite see.

    2. born again runner

    I love the sequencing of the record in general, and this song ties beautifully into ‘easy’, exploring the theme of not being seen for who you are and trying to be loved. But it’s in a different context, and you get into a bit more autobiographical detail lyrically. Is there a thread from one song to the next?

    When I started sequencing the record, it was kind of thematical, the flow of the storyline, but there isn’t really a direct thread. I did know that I wanted ‘idkwntht’ to be last on the record. I went through a couple different sequences – there was one that I was really set on, which isn’t the one that ended up happening. And then a friend actually helped sequence this record. He listened to it and sent me the sequence, and I was really against it at first. [laughs] And then I listened more, and I did feel like it brought up the cinematic nature of the record. It felt like playing through movie scenes, and that’s what the feeling that I was going for with my sequence, but his honestly did it way better. Thank you, Steven, for that.

    What I liked about these two songs being paired back to back, ‘easy’ and ‘born again runner’, is the last line in ‘easy’, I’m like: “Stop telling me I’m easy.” And then the next song, it’s obvious that regardless of whether or not I want to be called that or I want to deal with that, it is a theme in my life where I am forgiving, which can be considered maybe easy, like easygoing nature. But it isn’t easy to be forgiving. It’s really difficult. So I liked the contrast of those two songs leading into each other, because it’s really defiant on the end of ‘easy’, I’m like done. And then the second song, it’s like I can’t go against my nature in a way, of wanting to understand and wanting to connect the dots. So yeah, it was pretty deliberate to have them back to back like that.

    The line “I know I’m not Jesus, but Jesus I’m trying to be enough” – you say in the song you’ve said it more than once. Do you remember coming up with it?

    I wrote that song in like five minutes. [laughs] It just all fell out at once. Sometimes songs come like that. You have to be open to it, you have to make the space to allow it to come. It sounds really hippie-dippie, but it is true. Every time I’ve written a song I don’t really feel like I’ve had much to do with it. It just kind of feels like it comes, and the way that it comes is different each time. But there are several songs of mine that have just come all at once, and that’s one of them. I definitely edited it a bit, but line for line it was coming out. I was sitting at my friend’s kitchen table, they weren’t home, I was in the apartment alone. I put my voice memo recorder on my phone, and I was playing that riff over and over but I felt lines coming up, so I just pressed record and it kind of all fell out. It wasn’t super methodical.

    When that line came, I kind of surprised myself by it. I was raised very much in a Christian religious home. Even though I’m not a Christian, it’s still a bit triggering to take the Lord’s name in vain, you know, to say Jesus. Especially to be like, “Jesus, I’m trying to be enough.” I kind of surprised myself singing it, being like, “Whoa.” [laughs] But it so clearly was communicating, that line in particular, the thesis of the song. Knowing that I’m not this perfect person, but I am trying to be myself and I am trying to be honest – these qualities that people pin to a saviour type.

    3. tap

    To me, the drifting quality of this song almost makes it one of the lighter ones. In contrast to ‘born again runner’, it’s less of a narrative than a collection of thoughts and observations that are interconnected. I know you sometimes use a notebook to write down phrases or lines, and I was curious if this came about by piecing them together.

    This definitely came while I was on walks. I was on a specific walk that I can remember the weather, what it looked like outside. I had recently transplanted to New York a bit unexpectedly, but I was walking on like the West Side Highway – it’s side of town on the water, basically. There’s this huge, long park called Chelsea Piers, and I was walking against that backdrop. On the right side of you, there’s just the water and all these ports, and on the left side, there’s all these pockets of the park – some of it’s like a field or a playground, picnic tables, different scenes. And also buildings on the other side where the highways are, huge buildings and old houses. I was really missing being in nature. The city is a new environment for me – I predominantly grew up in the South and in the Midwest, and it’s these long, spanning fields and meadows and hills, lots of trees generally, that was what I was used to. And I was really missing that.

    And it was just pandemic, so walking around, I was trying to find things to connect to on this very depressing winter walk. I would take a walk every day to be like, “I gotta get out of my head.” I started writing on my phone – I think the first lines that came for the song were the last lines, “I’m not a tree/ I’m a forest of buildings.” Because I was just longing for the natural, the organic, instead of stone and steel and brick. I will write in my notebook, but I more often have my phone on me. I want to be someone that brings my notebook everywhere, but I guess I need to use a smaller notebook that fits in my bag. [laughs] So I started writing it on my phone, and later on I started playing the guitar part. And then I started singing the “Tap of the heart until I hate myself” because I was just thinking about Instagram, basically. Everyone’s addicted to their phone, I feel like, but it became way worse during the pandemic when there’s nothing going on, somehow people will still have shit to post about. [laughs] It just was another flow where I was singing and the words were coming out, but as I was crafting it, I kind of was like, those lines that I wrote on my phone definitely are definitely a part of this song, of this feeling that I trying to investigate.

    4. memory

    To me, this song is about trust in a relationship. But by addressing the role faith played in your life when you were young, it also becomes about how we begin to doubt ourselves and the world around us as we grow up – even things that we have evidence for. It’s interesting how those things relate to each other.

    That’s a song, too, that I just wrote in a day, and I kind of didn’t know what I was singing about. But yeah, I had trusted in the invisible when I was young, and it just came from that line. First off, I think the way that I was raised was so unique – or maybe not unique, but unique in the grand scheme of many people that I know and the things that their lives were based around. My life was heavily based around God and serving him, learning about him, obeying him. So it’s always going to infiltrate the way that I write and the way that I process. It’s not like it’s really intentional, but it’s just like, if someone grows up in the country, they’re probably going to write more about the country than they are going to write about the city.

    I think I really enjoy twisting biblical language and making it about relationships. And biblical language is about relationships, so it’s not that wild that I’m doing that. But for me, it’s almost like putting a joke in a song, it’s a way to make it lighter. The line “I’ve tasted and I’ve seen you/ And still trust won’t come,” in Psalms it’s: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” We’re supposed to be delighting in God. And so, it’s like me talking to this person or talking in my head about this person, like, “I have tasted you, I have seen you, we’ve shared this intimacy, and still I can’t trust you. I can’t trust that it’s real.” I think comparing those two, like nature and nurture vibe, was what was interesting to me about the song. It definitely is about trust and examining my own relational patterns in my life, how the way that I learned about trust influences my relationships now.

    You said it’s like adding a joke in the song, but it’s also evoking what it’s really like when that infiltrates every part of your life. It’s putting that language in and using it how you want.

    Yeah. And it’s a bit annoying when press will be like, “Tomberlin’s still struggling with her faith.” It’s like, I don’t have faith – I don’t have faith to struggle with. I don’t have faith in it, that’s the whole thing. When the EP came out, I think Pitchfork, that’s like their blurb about it, “Tomberlin’s still struggling with faith.” No hate to the reviewer, but that’s not what these songs are about. Those songs were primarily about relationships. Yes, of course the thing that I grew up heavily in and was my whole entire world is always going to infiltrate in a way, but it’s not what the song is about. It’s not like I’m thinking about God when I’m thinking about – this song is about a very specific person and a very specific time in my life where I was confused about how I was actually the one not trusting. And it wasn’t really about them.

    5. unsaid

    One thing I wanted to know is if the Lucy you’re referring to is Lucy Dacus.

    Haha, yes it is!

    Do you want to provide a bit of backstory on that?

    [laughs] Hm, how much do I give away… Well, Lucy is a master tarot card reader. And she’s given me a few tarot card readings about specific things in my life. It was when I was living in LA and she was visiting. We were talking about a specific person that I had questions about my relationship to them, and she gave me a reading. It was one of those things where it’s like, “Yikes, this is telling me what I wanted to hear but also didn’t want to hear.” And it really struck me that night. I’m pretty sure I wrote the song a couple days or a week or so later. But yeah, that’s the context that I’ll give.

    So the moment kind of sparked the song?

    I don’t think the tarot card reading necessarily sparked the song, but when I was writing the song, it was like, this isn’t another verse. This specific part has to do with this dynamic with this person. Because it was something that I was viewing from not up close and personal, it was like a long-distance relationship in a way, so I had a lot of space to examine it. I don’t know if you’ve had this kind of relationship in your life, but it’s a person that you just can’t seem to get out of your head and you see them from time to time you’re like, “Why is this still so present for me?” Yeah, that’s the feeling.

    6. sunstruck

    Again, the sequencing adds so much to the meaning of the songs. Instead of leaving things unsaid, it begins with the feeling of aliveness that comes with actually talking all night long, before you start processing everything in the song itself. Is that writing it felt to you, like everything started to unfold?

    Yeah. I wrote ‘unsaid’ in the wintertime, and then ‘sunstruck’ I wrote in the summer. ‘unsaid’ and ‘sunstruck’ are about the same person, so it kind of makes sense that they’re side by side. And I guess I didn’t even really think about that necessarily, because I was trying to view sequencing from like an aerial view of being like, I’m pretending I don’t know what these songs are about and I’m just listening to them. But yeah, ‘sunstruck’ is like: time has passed, I have more connection in myself and knowing things about myself and knowing patterns in myself and patterns in this other person. I am kind of seeing it from an area of growth.

    The thing is, the song ends on like, “We left behind some pain to get to the magic thing.” And it’s like, the magic thing isn’t the relationship is fixed and everything is perfect and you’ve grown and I’ve grown and now we’re living happily ever after. I do want to be intentional that the magic thing is just knowing yourself, and that never ends. The magic thing is that person knowing themself and continuing in that work and messing in the garden, even though it’s muddy and there’s weeds and there’s sticks and it’s fucking annoying. [laughs] We’re getting through this to get to the magic thing, which is actually connecting to ourselves, not really connecting to each other. It’s like, “No matter what happens, that’s what I want for you, and that’s what I want for me.”

    The beauty of it, also, is that the growth that you’re talking about is very much reflected in the instrumentation, how the song progresses sonically. There’s a moment where it gets really loud, and your voice is almost drowned out by the noise. I think that’s a wonderful reflection of that feeling of disappearing into yourself.

    Yeah, thank you. Definitely intentional. Definitely wanted it to build and explode, kind of like a firework – it does disintegrate into itself. These are things that you hope people catch on to, but it’s just like, who knows? This is really my first in-depth interview about the record, so it’s nice to hear that you’re catching all these things.

    7. collect caller

    What was the initial inspiration for this one?

    Thinking about specific people in the music industry. Like, vulture types, which are abundant in the music industry. It was kind of a joke at first for myself, and then I was like, maybe this song is good. [laughs] Maybe it’s good enough to be on the record. But I was kind of just playing around. Growing up, I would make up songs, even if I couldn’t play an instrument then, kind of to make my parents or my sisters laugh. It was a thing I was known to do. That was another self-comforting thing of just fucking around on guitar and making up a song and then being like: This is funny, kind of, and it’s also telling a story. It came about almost like a joke, but it’s actually kind of serious. [laughs] I’m talking about very specific things. So I just decided to throw it on the record.

    I think it still works with the record. I feel like a lot of my music is observational, whether I’m examining myself and my own dynamics or other people or spaces in time. It doesn’t feel diary-centric to me or anything, but hopefully one day when I’m like 50 making records still – I hope that that’s still happening – I’ll look back and be like, “Oh, that was that very specific chapter in my life where those were the things that I was examining, and now it’s taken up by something else.”

    It’s also self-comforting in that it’s almost a subtle way of recognizing kind of the virtuous parts your behaviour that you might otherwise or in other songs feel embarrassed about, such as feeling like a ghost in a room. It puts that in a positive light.

    Definitely. It’s like, maybe I am really quiet in this environment, but maybe some people could take a break, you know, from taking up so much space. [laughs] I’m very observational in a large room, or like a green room at a show that isn’t even mine, going to a friend’s green room when it’s a bunch of music industry people hanging out and everybody’s kissing each other’s ass. I’m just like, “This is so gross, everybody needs to calm down.” It’s not my favourite thing. Some people really enjoy those environments, and they really turn me off. But I really do like to observe those environments. [laughs] Just trying to glean humour from the darkness, I guess, was the goal of that song.

    8. stoned

    I feel like this song kind of is more about the darkness. It’s kind of acknowledging that feeling alone actually really sucks. And what you said earlier about forgiveness I think comes through in the song, too.

    I think when I was younger, the way that I understood forgiveness was, if I forgive someone, then that means that I forget what they’ve done. And I move on, and I don’t hold that against them. And maybe I’m still friends with this person, maybe I’m still connected to them in some way. I let them back in my life, and that is forgiveness. But I think as I’ve grown and aged and had more experiences, something that I really hold on to and love about the way that I was raised and the way that I am because of it is that I am a forgiving person and I do want to forgive people and I do want to let things go. But it can bite me as well, because once people realize that, they can also walk all over you and really destroy you because they are taking advantage of that part of your being. I’m continually going to have to learn to navigate that – I think I’m much better at it than I used to be.

    But that line also wasn’t in the song originally, that I had forgiveness in my heart for this person. Because I think that was something that I wrestled back and forth with, of like, how could I actually forgive this person? But ultimately, what I’ve learned about forgiveness is that even if it doesn’t come to fruition – like, that person hasn’t asked for my forgiveness, they don’t think that they’ve done anything wrong, but where I want to be in my life is if they did come to me and ask for forgiveness, I would have to give to them. And I know that I wouldn’t want this person in my life, I know that it would not be able to happen. But I know that I could forgive them and let it go if they asked for it. So I think I still hold that forgiveness in myself for that person, but it is something where I don’t know if that will ever happen. But it’s examining a part of myself where I feel like I got completely walked all over, and there’s a part where I’m like, I wish I wouldn’t have been so forgiving multiple, multiple, multiple times. But ultimately, that’s a part of myself that I love. Holding on to that instead of being ashamed of it. I don’t know if that makes sense.

    Another thing I wanted to mention is that the song reminded of Ada Lea’s ‘damn’, which I know you sang back-up on and has a similar theme. I wondered if there’s any connection there.

    No, I think the song was written before I heard ‘damn’. But yeah, that’s cool how songs do that. I think ‘easy’, I sent it Cass McCombs, who played on the record, and he sent me some ancient country song where it’s not the same lyrically, but there are things that are basically the same message of the song. He wasn’t being like, “This sucks,” he was like, “This reminds me of this guy’s take on that kind of similar feeling.” But it’s cool how music does that. We’re all wrestling with the same things. We’re all humans just being like, “What?” [laughs]

    9. happy accident

    How did you feel when you heard that guitar part that Cass McCombs contributed?

    Basically, I wrote the song on acoustic guitar but played around with fingerpicking it and strumming it when I was writing, and I was just like, “This is obviously a rocker.” Like, it will be on electric guitar on the record, I knew that in my mind. And I wanted a competing guitar line to be doing something. And so, Cass and I were just riffing back and forth, and he just played that. And I was like, “That’s it. Just keep doing that.” [laughs] He was just being himself. I feel like when I hear guitar, I can tell that it’s him. Like on that HAIM song, on ‘The Steps’, that’s Cass playing. I didn’t know that off the top of my head, but I was listening to it being like, “Why does this feel like I know this person?” And it’s because I did.

    ‘stoned’ kind of picks up the pace in terms of it being heavier and more electric, and this one is a full-on rocker, like you said. Sequencing-wise, again, it feels like that was an intentional decision to get to the climax of the record.

    Yeah, it definitely was. There is electric guitar earlier on the record, there is percussion – we wanted to have touchstones throughout the record where it’s like, this isn’t out of place for these rockers to be on here. You’re driving down the tunnel and there’s these different winding paths, but it all was the same tunnel. So it was very intentional to have them side by side and have them slap you in the face and wake you up and be like, “It’s not over yet.”

    It’s funny, the record is long, but to me, it doesn’t feel long listening to it. It was a wild thing when I was like, “Fuck, it’s 50 minutes.” We were scared that we were gonna have to cut some songs. And then it came into question, like, “What do we cut?” And we were like, “Do we just cut the rockers?” And I was like, “Absolutely not. [laughs] I cannot imagine this record without these on here.” We were like, “Okay, we just have to find a person who’s cutting the vinyl to be very meticulous to get the sound right.” Because if you have someone that doesn’t really zone in on that, the record can sound bad or too quiet. You want all the elements to be lifted in the mix. That was something that I was learning about. Phil is such a vinyl nerd, where I was like, “I didn’t even really know that before making this record.” But we got someone that cut the vinyl and it sounds really great, so I’m really happy with it.

    10. possessed

    I feel like it’s also important that a lot of the songs are longer because it allows them to grow and move along, but this one is kind of an exception. It feels to me like one last moment of vulnerability after the self-assurance of ‘happy accident’, and it really sets the stage for the closer.

    Yeah, that was a song where I was like, “That’s the song,” but I kept thinking I’m gonna add more, there’ll be more verses or a structural change. Like, “I like where this is, but it’ll grow.” I was sending it when I was working on it in the batches, and I was always like, asterisk, like it’s not finished yet. I don’t know what changed, but I think I was just listening back – I hadn’t listened to it in a while and I was on a walk listening to an iPhone voice memo, which is how I record my demos, still. And I just was like, “This is a song, this is done. It doesn’t need anything else.”

    I don’t know, writing songs is like magic. Before, At Weddings, those are my best attempts at songs. I grew up very into creative writing and it wasn’t shocking to my parents and my family that I wrote songs because that had always been something that I was “gifted” at. But it is a more stressful thing when it becomes your job, obviously, and you have listeners, you have fans that are waiting for the next thing and they’re comparing you to other people. There’s all this expectation. So that song is kind of about dismantling that and just surrendering to a song being magic. It’s kind of about many things, like I could say that to you and then say that the song was about something else in another interview, because I think it’s multifaceted, but that’s part of it.

    It kind of goes back to ‘tap’, like, “I don’t have to be anything.” Some people are making music for very different reasons than I’m making music, and that’s okay. They’re not doing anything wrong. But the reason that I make music is because I’ll make it regardless of whether or not anyone listens. That’s ultimately what I think I figured out in writing that song. I don’t know who to be, I don’t know what to sing, but I do. I do, I always know. It’ll always come, it just might not come at the quick-natured pace of some people releasing music. You know, like Adrianne Lenker, that woman just seems to be blowing her nose and a song comes out. [laughs] And I love her and adore her, but that’s not how it works for me right now. Maybe it’ll change. But it was a thing of like, I’m not being hard on myself about the nature of this. It’s magic, and music is magic. It’s just capitalism that destroys art and destroys our view of what we’ve made and what we’ve done, and it doesn’t give us much time to be proud of anything. So it was me trying to be like, I don’t have the answers, and it’s magic. Something’s always possessed me to write or to explore or examine. And something always will, I think.

    11. idkwntht

    I feel like that’s what you’re leaning into with the closer. Like, “I don’t know what exactly my role is, but I’m kind of embracing it.” Even though you sing earlier that you’re not a singer, you’re kind of stepping tentatively into that role, whatever it means.

    Totally, you’re very good at analyzing. That’s very much the nature of that song. Also, like, I needed to hear that. I found the original voice memo the other day – because I don’t mark them, they’re just like new voice memo 250, and I kind of do it on purpose because I like not knowing where it is. I can just go back in the month and be like, “I think I wrote this song in this month.” But I found it the other day, and it’s like, you can hear birds singing outside, I’m sitting by an open window, and I just sound tired. [laughs] And I’m singing this song, and it’s just like I needed to hear that. I was holding a lot, and that was deep into winter pandemic.

    A lot of the record is examining relationships, and that was a song where I was just like – I mean, I reference a relationship, “Really what I wanted to be is everything that you weren’t for me.” But going back, connecting to myself, that’s what’s important. I’m spending my whole life, my time, all my effort, all my energy, my money – like, my savings account that I had from when I started working when I was 13 – I’m investing it in music. I’m investing it in this thing that I can’t touch, really. And it feels insane all the time. It’s just insane that we are all dedicating our lives to this thing where it’s like capitalism is truly crushing it to bits and pieces. And it’s so terrifying. And for me, I don’t come from wealth like a lot of musicians seem to – and that’s fine, but that’s not my thing. So I’m frightened quite a lot about the sustainability of doing what I do, even though I’m so grateful that people do listen to my music. But that was a moment of being like, “Holy shit, I don’t know who needs to hear this…” I was just scared, I think, and trying to examine it from a place of like, “It’s good for me to do this.” And I’ve been told by others that it helps them, so I’ll keep doing it.

    It’s funny that the voice memo, I think the last thing is like, “Sing it like it is a prayer/ Sing it like no one else is there/ Sing it like no one can hear you/ Sing whatever makes it feel new.” I remember that I could hear commotion in the kitchen above me – I was staying with friends – and you can hear me just hitting my phone because I thought that somebody was about to walk in, so it ends really abruptly and I’m trailing off. But that’s the feeling, this is just this mystery – the fact that I’m able to do this, that people want to listen to my music at all. It’s all a mystery to me, and I’m very grateful to be a part of the mystery. It mystifies me, it’s not something that I feel privy to. I’m just right there with everybody else.

    What’s the voice recording at the end of the song?

    That’s a home video clip. It’s my meemaw, who is my mom’s mom, talking to my baby cousin Chandler, who was a newborn at the time, in a silly voice, like how we talk to babies. Basically, we ripped audio from a bunch of my home videos and we started messing around and it wasn’t super intentional at first. We were playing with that specific clip because there are so many sounds, it’s in a kitchen and there’s other family members floating around. I love that it’s meemaw’s voice on it, it’s so comforting every time I hear it. But I love the end of the song where it’s my cousin Crystal saying “Enough with the noises.” It just really ties it all up – there’s a lot of noise, you’re hearing my noise, you’re listening to my inner dialogue, in a way. But it’s just like, “Enough.” And you can start the record over if you want to, or you can just be with yourself for a bit and feel your feelings.

    There are quite a few musicians who contributed to the album, and the bio mentions that “people laughed and cried and joked” during the recording process. Could you share a moment like that that has become a fond memory for you?

    I have two things that come to mind that are really moving to me. Because it was the first record that I’ve made where I really brought in people I didn’t know and was building relationships at that time. Shazad [Ismaily, who founded Figure 8], he heard ‘idkhntht’ and he was like, “Sarah Beth, the only word that comes to mind is like, this song is a miracle.” And I was just like, “Whoa.” [laughs] That’s… I’m really bad at accepting nice things that people say to me about anything, but that was so cool. That song also almost wasn’t on the record. I had kind of forgotten that I had written it because I thought it was too simple or something. And then I played it live for Phil and Felix [Walworth of Told Slant] in the studio, and they were like, “We’re gonna start with this one.”

    There was also a moment where David Cieri, who is this masterful piano player who played piano on a lot of the record, we had him come in just to play on one song – I can’t remember initially because he ended up playing a ton on the record. I was using the bathroom, but I came in and Phil was playing ‘memory’ for David, and I walked in and saw that he was like weeping. [laughs] He was just so moved by it that he looked over and was like, “Wow.” And I just was like… “I’m sorry?” [laughs] And he hugged me and was like, “I gotta go, I need to leave, I gotta go have a proper –” He simply left that day, and then I turned to Phil after he left and I was like, “We must bring him back. [laughs] He must play.” Because I was like, “It hits him, he gets it.” I wanted the people who played on the record to feel the music, and he obviously did. And I feel like you can feel that in his playing on the record, especially him playing on ‘easy’. So yeah, we had to bring him back.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

    Tomberlin’s i don’t know who needs to hear this… is out now via Saddle Creek.

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