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Track By Track: dying in designer’s Debut Album ‘Nobody’s Happy.’

Brii Jamieson
Brii Jamieson 15 August 2019 at 13.03

dying in designer talks through his incredibly personal debut album 'Nobody's Happy.' alongside his closest collaborators.

dying in designer is Hopeless Records' resident emo rapper, and he's preparing for the release of his debut album 'Nobody's Happy.' tomorrow. The album itself is so brutally honest and raw that you can physically feel the pain that dying in designer (real name Bobby) was going through during the writing and recording process. Because it's such a personal offering, we asked Bobby to talk us through the album, track by track with a series of his collaborators. 

Over to dying in designer:

"I titled the album 'Nobody's Happy.', because if you take a look around and really pay attention, nobody seems genuinely happy. I think it's a part of being human - we deal with different emotions daily, and it's very hard for us just to be content. That's what 'Nobody's Happy.' is about - that it's okay to feel the way you feel.”

01. 'Pull It' (Prod. Mitch Marlow & Josh Schulyer)
Mix by Mitch Marlow & Josh Schulyer

dying in designer - “When I wrote 'Pull It’ I was in a pretty bad place in life. At the time I really felt like I wasn’t good enough for anyone or anything - I was living in LA doing music under a different name and it was going super well, until one day shit kind of just hit the fan. I packed up my car and drove 23 hours back to Chicago with my girlfriend at the time. Broke and with nowhere to go, I moved back into my parent’s basement after not living there since high school, which made me feel like a total fucking failure.

"Plus my relationship was getting worse and worse, which just added on more stress. After strictly living off music for three years, I had to get a 'real job' just to pay for bills and studio time. I would wake up super early, go to work for shit pay, come home, drink a 12 pack, write, record, and sleep for a few hours - then repeat. I was so fucking depressed; it got really hard to wake up each morning, especially with having to follow orders at a day job I wasn’t passionate about. I had some pretty dark thoughts, and as cliché as this may sound, music was the only thing that kept me going - and without it, I probably wouldn’t be here. So yeah, that’s what ‘Pull It’ is about.”

02. 'Lately'  (prod. dying in designer & Egypt)
Guitars by HXXLIGAN
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “'Lately’ was written like a suicide note - I was in a very toxic relationship which put me in an extremely dark place. This song was very therapeutic for me, and I’m so glad I didn’t act upon my thoughts. At the end of the day, I want to help people who feel the way I have felt. I want to be a role model to these broken kids around the world. I want these kids to know that it’s okay to feel down sometimes - emotions are real and will always be universal. I want my music to save lives.”

HXXLIGAN (Guitar): “This song is no doubt the project's most raw and emotional song, and I wanted the guitars to reflect that, so I pulled out the acoustic and laid down some dark jammy riffs - we all instantly loved it.

Egypt (Producer): “Bobby went through one of the worst years of his life, and I was about to quit music. On a whim, Brian Cabby (Engineer) linked us through email, and I started working on the beat for what would become 'Lately'. It's such a simple beat, but I remember just doing the drums over and over again. Bobby is a perfectionist like me, and he would call me just saying 'hey, that one hi-hat or that one snare, let's change that'. In a short amount of time, 'Lately' broke 1 million [streams], and in the same couple of months Bobby had a manager, a signing to UTA, and label deals on the table.”

03. 'Wounds' (Prod. Erik Ron)
Mix by Erik Ron

dying in designer: “‘Wounds’ was the last song I made before turning the album in. I had a session with Erik Ron, and we were just hanging out, jamming songs off the album. After listening to my album, Erik said he wanted to do something a bit different from what I already had, and we somehow got on the subject of R&B, and how much we both love that genre. From that moment, we knew we wanted to make an emo R&B song. ‘Wounds’ is about my ex-girlfriend calling me to tell me she found someone new - I was just starting to get over her, and hearing that really set me back. Like you’ll hear in the song, some wounds will never heal.”

Erik Ron (Producer): "‘Wounds’ was a really fun track to make, because dying in designer came into the studio a huge ball of energy - really wanting to show me what he was working on. In showing me those songs, it gave me a clear picture of where I could help fill a space that wasn’t quite there yet. I asked my girlfriend to send me a voicemail breaking up with me, and that I’d tell her why later - and that’s the vocal sample you hear halfway through the song.”

04. 'Devil’s Callin' (Prod. dying in designer & Egypt)
Guitars by HXXLIGAN
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “'Devil’s Callin'' is about saying you feel better about moving on from a past relationship, but in reality, you don’t. This song means a tonne to me, and you can actually feel my anger in the first four bars of the verse. Mentally, I was preparing myself to move on, and it was the turning point in my relationship - I was lying to myself the whole time until it eventually became true.”

HXXLIGAN (Guitar): “This song took me forever, and definitely questioned my sanity on many occasions. I remember getting so frustrated in studio sessions, and wanting to throw my guitar through a wall. I tracked anywhere from 30-40 different ideas for this song, and nothing seemed to fit. This was another song I wanted to pull some pop-punk influence into, and after so many ideas we just realized it wasn’t working. One day Bobby was over, and we were working on the record and right when we were about to give up on the song, I decided to go into left field - I cleaned up the tone and pulled out this riff that sounded so clean and pretty. I tracked it, then laid down some leads over it and by the time it was done we had one of our catchiest and most melodic sounding recordings to date.”

05. 'Promises (Green Eyes)' (Prod. GOLDHOUSE)
Guitars by HXXLIGAN
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “I vaguely remember writing 'Promises (Green Eyes)' with Grant (GOLDHOUSE), and my guitarist (HXXLIGAN). It was a Sunday, and I was day-drinking after the Bears game (they lost). I showed up with a case of beer, feeling pretty damn good and drunkenly started pouring my heart out through melodies, channeling my never-ending past relationship issues, and BOOM - 'Promises (Green Eyes)' was created. I was blasted that day - surprised I even wrote a song, to be honest. I recall spilling a beer or two on the floor (ha, sorry Grant!).”

HXXLIGAN (Guitar): “This was an interesting one, and I definitely consider this to be the pop song of the group. I remember meeting up with Grant (GOLDHOUSE) in his studio, and I had tracked some ideas already so we could get a jump-start on the session. This one was cool because it was the only song on the album that we all wrote in the same room from start to finish. Grant and I vibed so well, and the ideas were just flowing. I really like how this one turned out. It was definitely the most fun one to write.”

06. 'Down N Out' (Prod. dying in designer & Egypt)
Guitars by HXXLIGAN
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “I was pretty much under the influence during the whole writing process of this album, because of all the shit I was going through - being intoxicated was the only time I truly felt okay. 'Down N Out' is a reflection of that.”

HXXLIGAN (Guitar): “I was always a pop-punk kid growing up - I played high school football, and I remember before a game a team mate of mine introduced me to A Day To Remember and I instantly fell in love. The breakdowns, the melodic guitars, the catchy vocals... I remember talking with Bobby about how cool it would be to write a trap song that had some breakdowns - a chance to tap into my roots a little bit. Not much later he sent me the vocals for 'Down N Out', and that’s when I knew this was gonna be the song.”

07. 'PTSD' (Prod. Nick Mira)
Mix Brian Cabby

dying in designer : “Working with Nick Mira was a dream come true. Nick produced one of the biggest songs of 2018 in 'Lucid Dreams', so working with him early on felt damn good. Nick sent over a beat pack with curated beats specifically for my sound, so creating this one was a breeze. I was going through some bad PTSD from my past relationship, so the song ‘PTSD’ pretty much wrote itself - I just talked about how I was feeling, and what was going on in my life. I was feeling super depressed and alone - I was relying on friends to be there when I needed them most, but to be honest they weren’t. I had to get through this shit alone.”

08. 'Hopeless Romantic' (Prod. Joe Hodges)
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “I’ve always felt like a hopeless romantic my whole life. My past relationships obviously never worked out, and this song is about me kind of just pouring my heart out about it.”

Joe Hodges (Producer): “I linked up with Bobby in LA earlier this year. It was the first time we met, and he reminded me of a younger version of myself, as we’re both from the Midwest and grew up playing hockey. We spent the first hour just chopping it up about life, and growing up in the Midwest. My vision for the record was a simple, but hard grungy idea - I started the track the night before the session, and it was the first and only beat I played. He had an idea within the first 20 seconds of hearing the beat - and the rest is history!"

09. 'Highs' (prod. dying in designer & Egypt)
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “My childhood best friend OD’ed on his birthday… The fucked up part about it I was supposed to grab a beer with him after my studio session, but it ran late. When I got out I couldn’t get hold of him. My ma called me hours later, and told me he was pronounced dead for 10 minutes, but luckily was brought back to life by the paramedics. Days later, Mac Miller died of an OD from the same substances my friend did. I was so fucked by this because Mac was a big reason I started rapping, and it was already heavily on my mind because of what had just happened to my friend. I called my good buddy/ ex-bandmate Steve, who had lost his friend to the same thing three years prior - I brought over a case of beer and a bottle, and we grieved for a bit then wrote this one.”

Steve Southard (Writer):  “We made the song to show different perspectives from the different stages you go through when you lose someone. I had lost my best friend three years prior to opioids, so we kind of just talked about it and aired it all out. It ended up feeling so personal that when we finished the song, we just kind of closed the laptop and didn’t say much about it. About two weeks later, after not mentioning anything about the song, Bobby showed me a studio version of 'Highs', not knowing that it was two days before the third anniversary of my friend's passing. I’d consider it a very deep personal song, I’m sure many can relate with.”

HXXLIGAN (Guitar): "Bobby first sent me 'Highs' over a reference beat he created, and it was so dark it gave you chills. I pulled my guitar out, dropped the tuning and played this riff that was so dark, but really gave the song its personality."

10. 'Worth' (prod. Flexyboy)
Mix Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “I never came from money growing up, so I’ve always had to work for everything I have. I fucking hate working jobs, and am honestly really bad at them - I've definitely been fired from a few. 'Worth' is about dealing severe with depression and anxiety while trying to get up and go to work every day, just to pay bills and for a dream that may never come true. I always felt I was worth so much more than the 9-5 life. Nothing against the people that do so, I just feel I was put on this earth to make music and help people that way.”

Brian Cabby (Engineer): “Bobby and I have been working on records together over the past five years or so, but when he sent me 'Worth' the tables were completely flipped. I could see his vision and influences culminating into what dying in designer is now. Basically, as a mix engineer I got to help develop his overall sound moving forward, and for me that meant to start from scratch, throw out all the rules on mixing and just create something moving to listen to while still giving Bobby a great vocal mix - which is why I think he sought me out to begin with.”

11. Hollow (Prod. Egypt)
Guitars by HXXLIGAN
Mix by Brian Cabby

dying in designer: “When I recorded 'Hollow' I had really bad bronchitis - probably from recording so much and overusing my vocals. The doctor told me not to drink on the medication, but I did anyway, so I had bronchitis for a solid four months when I was recording the album in its entirety. 'Hollow' is about drowning out the pain through substance abuse."

HXXLIGAN (Guitarist): “Back in December we took a trip out of town to get away. Just Bobby, myself, the rest of our crew, and a cabin in the woods - all we had was beer and music. At the time Bobby and I had just gone through similar situations dating some horrible people. We were both drinking pretty heavily at the time, and being away from society brought all of those emotions to the surface. That’s when 'Hollow' came to life.”

dying in designer is set to release his debut album 'Nobody's Happy.' August 16, through Hopeless Records.

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