Brimheim about “Exquisite Bliss”
On September 25, 2020, Brimheim is ready with the single "Exquisite Bliss". Dive into the number in this interview with the Danish / Faroese singer.
Photo: Cover art for "Exquisite Bliss" by W.A.S. Entertainment.
What has inspired you to write “Exqusite Bliss”?
When I sit down to write a song, it's pretty much inevitable for me not to revolve around my inner struggle with myself - self indulgent as it may be. I often have debilitating anxiety which means, among other things, that my brain inundates me with invasive thoughts about my own worth and ability to contribute. A big theme in all the songs I write is this inner voice telling me I ain’t shit. Exquisite Bliss is a bit of an outlier within that trend because it's a giant love banger written shortly after my first tinder date with my now wife. At the same time, it speaks to how those doubts can manifest in the context of a romantic relationship.
We fell in love very quickly and right from the very beginning, I felt so safe and cared for. For the first time in my life, I felt seen - genuinely seen for who I am - and respected on a deep and unshakable level. Lorri, my wife, is an incredible person. She is insanely strong and at the same time so accepting, hilarious, and deeply loving. She has zero tolerance for bullshit and takes herself and her own needs very seriously. Meeting her and experiencing her way of existing in the world made me want to be the best person I could be, for myself and for her; to raise my standards in life in general.
The theme of doubt is still present in the song and that’s why the chorus is phrased as a question: "could I deserve this?" It can be a bit of a mindfuck to come from a background and mindset of scarcity, where there is no such thing as emotional security -- and then all of a sudden, I found myself in a situation where an almost unconditional love was freely available and happily given. Wait a minute, is this real? Can I trust that I'm worthy of this kind of love? In the song, trust in this exceptional love still overcomes the nagging feeling of doubt: "I have a feeling, however fleeting, that this is real and you are mine."
My self doubt probably won’t go away anytime soon, but it helps on a fundamental level to share life with a human being who is so solid in her dedication, so generous, and so accepting. It is a truly healing experience.
What do you wish people will gain from listening to this number?
How does the number connect with the rest of the EP?
Doubt and vulnerability as a fundamental part of the human condition is the overriding theme of the EP; how I personally cope with those existential feelings. Exquisite Bliss is the brightest and most positive take on the subject. I believe it is universal to doubt and to question our worth, but taking in the joyful moments filled with beauty in between all the hardship is so fucking important. We should remember to soak in and celebrate them as much as possible. For me, Exquisite Bliss does that and I’m really proud to have written it for that reason.
I feel that it’s essential to share my vulnerability and self doubt through music, because I am honestly pretty bad at vulnerability in other ways. For me, music is a sanctuary where I can process and fully embody the most fragile emotions while feeling strong and empowered in them at the same time. The moment I start to sing - even when I’m expressing my deepest doubts and most tender pain - I am also filled with meaning and joy. I am very grateful to have access to that space within myself and I hope to provide some shade of that feeling to other people through my music.
Is there anything else, you wish to mention regarding the number?
Exquisite Bliss has been through many iterations and had a totally different sound, as well as different lyrics, in its original form. When we recorded the instrumental tracks with Nis Bysted in Sauna Studios, it was a minimalist set up and the idea at the time was to keep it that way. But the more I listened to the pre-mix after the recording session, the more I could sense the potential of the song; that this might be something really special. But I had a gut feeling that the lyrics weren’t right - totally bland and two-dimensional; the melody and chords begged for some real emotion. It was fairly difficult to rewrite the lyrics because I knew what I wanted to say, but it was challenging to make it fit. I’m not that good at writing lyrics to an existing melody, so it took seven rewrites before I felt like it was more than passable. The same thing happened when I recorded the vocals in my own studio. I was so sure of the potential of this song that my expectations for the end result became very high. I think I must’ve done at least 50 vocal takes for just the lead. I don’t really like comping (editing the vocal track together from a lot of different takes, so each phrasing is perfect) too much. I prefer to do it in one take or at least section by section; especially when the ambition was to make it sound as authentic and sincere as possible. It was a huge help when I got Oliver Voltz on the project - when I asked him if we should re-record all the vocals together he said: “Hey Helena. Chill. You already have all the vocal material you need for this song.” He was right because the ones I had done on my own sounded perfect already. I was just being way too picky about it. But that can be difficult to distinguish when you're working by yourself. Sometimes the low-hanging fruit is the sweetest, you know.
Between Oliver and I, we built the production up to sound way bigger and more epic. I'm particularly pleased with the build up - journeying from the woolly Interpol-like guitars in the intro to the final chorus that doesn’t hold back on big vocal harmonies, piano, and the world's longest crystalizer church reverb.
Fun fact: the very occasional cymbal hits are actually sampled in.