Following the extensive story-telling depths of his album Underscore, devoted songwriter and heartbroken creative Bad Bubble delivers the four-track EP This Is For Us – further exploring the intricacies of a relationship that impacted every aspect of his world.
We caught up with Bad Bubble to find out more about the songs of this EP, the recording process, the stages of grief and hope that make up the writing, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hey – great to catch up with you, thanks for the opportunity to talk about This Is For Us. Let’s dive straight in – the raw emotion and soulful longing of this project is undeniable from the start. What was your mindset like when you first wrote and recorded the opening song This is For Underscore?
Thank you so much for having me. TIFU was actually a letter. I hadn’t seen Underscore in a very long time. I saw her briefly one day in a random bank parking lot. I was heading to my car when she pulled up. Kind of surprised me to be honest. I saw her again a few months later. We caught up and talked about Anna. Discussed normal, mundane things. I was a wreck at the time.
Shortly after that is when I discovered something was different. I just could not get her out of her mind. No matter how hard I tried. But I never acted on it. She was in a relationship so I left it alone. Years passed. Long hard years. She never left my mind. So I wrote her a letter, in the form of a song.
She always loved that I played music. So, I wrote her that song. If you listen, it even reads like a letter. This was before what ended up happening occurred. (Album 7, 8). I remember that night well. I sent her that and This is for Anna.
How does the song link to the longer album of the same name?
The two Underscore songs, This is for Underscore, and Underscore, the title track to the 3rd album, are things which were left unsaid. Both of them are. Underscore, (Anna’s mother) was never treated with any respect by any of the people she chose up until myself, and since. Not that I am a saint, no one is perfect. But I’ve never hit a woman or have done anything evil like what she had to endure. TIFU is me telling Underscore (Anna’s mother) for the first time in my life, I love her.
Underscore (title-track to album 3) is more circumstantial. About specific things. Many are. Underscore (title track) is linked to a song from the same album, A Fair View of You. That song is about a park we used to hang at. Underscore (title track) is about some of the things we did at that park. Whether it was a conversation or an activity or something like that. We had a blast at that park. Those precious late teen/early 20’s years go quick…Before you know it, you’re writing songs about it.
Talk me through the vocal performance, you pour so much soulful desperation and power into the delivery – how different is it for you to focus a song so much on the outcry of emotion than on the building of layers and production details?
Honestly, the most difficult part is not using software. What you hear is actually my fingers on a set of keys. I love the satisfaction of knowing what you are hearing is me. I do old school “takes”. Meaning if I mess up, I start over.
Regarding the This is for Us EP, I knew it would be difficult. Not so much the recording process, but how I had to shut my mind off during the vocals. I wish I could show you. I’ll send you a picture. I built my studio in what would have essentially been Anna’s room. I’m here every day. Very few people have been here. Maybe one or two people have stepped foot in here. I turned the closet into a soundproof vocal booth. I remember being in that booth for 14 hours.
This is for Anna was a nightmare. I kept breaking down. Finally, I had to cut into thirds and lay down 3 separate tracks. This was a blessing because it allowed me to harmonise, albeit briefly, which opened the door to Potato Command, and several others I use the barbershop style of harmony for. At the end of This is for Anna, you can hear me breaking down. I had to keep it in because I couldn’t go on anymore. I just couldn’t do it.
What made you decide to keep just the one final song away from most major streaming platforms?
I don’t want anyone, including myself, to ever profit anything from it. It’s worth too much to me. It has become, in a strange way, my daughter. It is the most priceless possession I have. However, I do want her track to be heard. The best way to get a copy is simply through my store.
It’s of course free. All you will have to give me is your email, but that isn’t me. It’s a shopify company policy. I tried everything I could to get rid of that but there isn’t anything I can do about it. All I can do is give my word you will receive no unnecessary spam. You can also stream the entire EP on SoundCloud. Tunebubble.com was nice enough to allow me to use their platform so you can now download for free through Tunebubble.com.
I don’t really have anything which I value to any extent where I would suffer if I didn’t have it except for this track. To me, the track is her.
“One day I discovered, no one will ever get her anything…ever. That is unacceptable. I won’t allow it.
Bad Bubble was never so much as me wanting to be an artist. It is me, for 2 solid years, being a Father.”
Are there ever songs you’ve written that are this personal and simply couldn’t be shared at all, and do you ever listen back to these, perhaps as part of a therapeutic process?
To me, it wasn’t really about healing. Healing is more of a fortunate side effect. It was always about the gift. I was never able to get her anything. No gifts, lunch money, rides to her friends, etc…I was never able to buy her a Christmas present or a birthday present. One day I discovered, no one will ever get her anything…ever. That is unacceptable. I won’t allow it. So, what am I going to do? Write her a poem? Fold it up and put it in my sock drawer to be forgotten about? Or something bigger? Bad Bubble was never so much as me wanting to be an artist. It is me, for 2 solid years, being a Father.
As far as any other songs this personal? Yes and No. All the songs are personal, but I know what you’re meaning. Future 9. That was pretty personal. There are tracks on there which if anyone were to know what they were really about, I would probably have DM’s full of “are you ok”’s. Summerfall, and Smart Secrets from Future 9. It doesn’t get much more personal.
A Bad Way is very personal. It’s the last song on Underscore, album 3. “Turn the motor on and shut the door” is a reference to a garage door and a car motor. A near tragic situation. Underscore and I had much in common. Which is why we got along so well. It seemed at times this world didn’t want much to do with us.
In a few months, I’ll be releasing my 6th album. That one is very personal. I don’t know how people are going to take it. I expect to get some criticism on that one, but I have to cover that particular subject and part of her life.
Are there any hidden lyrics or references within this EP, that are purely for you and the loved one they relate to?
Oh yes. There are references in TIFU that only Underscore will understand. But as I’ve said, it was a letter to her. That doesn’t mean the track can’t be enjoyed fully. Just know it’s a personal letter from me to Underscore.
The ending of Us. I love it. You will see that phrase come up over and over and over again. “There’s a place in my heart” – It’s in at least a dozen songs scattered all over the 160+. It’s important. I’ve just released a track on 4/11/23 called Retch, which goes into greater detail of what it is.
Over the years, I’ve kept Anna in my heart so adamantly, I built her a place there. It’s her home. I know it by heart. She’s there now. I know every square inch of that place. It’s beautiful…Underscore knows this. I did share this with her.
Do you think about the songs on a timeline at all, like how they’ll feel to listen to in ten or twenty years, and if so, what might that be like?
That is a good question. One which I haven’t given much thought to admittedly. Honestly, that would depend on so many things. Who knows? I may cringe. I don’t know where my head will be in twenty years.
Ask anyone in their late 30’s, early 40’s if they are the same person they were at 20. I guarantee 100% of your answers will be an astounding “no”. That said, I hope I’ll be able to look back with pride. Or at least a sense of closure. I did this for her. So I haven’t really thought about that.
I have thought about what I am going to do in 2024 when this is over. I have a few options available. I just don’t know how I will be creatively. I have poured so much of myself into this particular story, I wonder what will be left at the end. Will I still be prolific? or will I be blocked? I guess I’ll find out. But the big question is, what will I write about? I have no idea. Whatever it is, it will be completely different.
Last time we spoke you mentioned that your goals are often changing. What would you say is your aim artistically at this point?
Right now, my concentration is on my real world life outside my phone. I have some IRL issues I’m dealing with. This may sound strange, but it’s the truth. This whole thing has really put the zap on my head. I feel like two different people. Bad Bubble exists on my phone and my laptop. I live in a very secluded place. Yes, it’s a couple hours from Chicago and I have that beautiful city at my disposal. But where I am on a normal day, the normal every Tuesday is complicated.
Bad Bubble is prolific, friendly, confident…whereas I am a wreck. Scared. Everyday I am scared. I only sleep 2-3 nights a week if I’m lucky. I have this and other issues which are causing chaos. Bad Bubble speaks to many people every day. I don’t say a word to anyone. We are two totally different people. And this causes major issues in my head because I get lost considering how much time I spend on this and my own life, which honestly doesn’t exist.
So as to your question regarding goals, I have to ask, goals for who? Me or BB? For BB, onward we go! Doing the absolute best that can ever be expected. Me? I have no idea.
How far along is the upcoming album, and what can we expect from you next in terms of singles / videos / appearances?
Right now, I’m halfway through Underscore’s Accord, which is basically Underscore II. Underscore dealt with things she has had to go through which I am aware of. Underscore’s Accord is about her decisions, or her accord of things as they came.
It was very difficult writing both as Underscore is a very private and complicated person who has had a lot thrown at her, as have I. I guarantee if she were in the driver’s seat, it would be different. I am, however, doing my best to be fair and honest, all the while, having respect for her. I don’t know her opinion on any of this. She is aware of Bad Bubble. I can tell you that. But she is….indifferent.
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