Brimheim on ‘Call It What You Want’

On April 2nd, Brimheim is releasing her most personal single yet. ‘Call It What You Want’ is a heartfelt, queer love anthem about Brimheim and her wife. Read the story behind the song in this interview.

Photo: Cover art for 'Call It What You Want'.

What inspired you to write the song?

»’Call It What You Want’ is based on the first time I stayed with my wife, Lorri, in her parents' apartment in midtown New York. Sadly, her parents are not accepting of her homosexuality (especially her mom), so I’ve never actually met them«.

»At that time, Lorri was still living with them so we were only able to stay there because her parents were out of town. Despite knowing they were abroad, I still felt terrified when we went to bed. I kept picturing scenarios where her mom suddenly comes home because of a cancelled flight or something and kicks Lorri out, disowns her. From what Lorri’s told me, her mom is a very intimidating person and growing up around her was hard… so when I was laying there unable to sleep, irrationally terrified that she might find us, I felt deep empathy for my wife. She has had to struggle with that fear her whole life. The fear of not being accepted, the fear of being rejected by her family, and the fear of getting caught in one of the countless lies she’s had to come up with in order to survive«.

»This all happened before we got married. Now we live far away from her parents and our lives are thankfully not as strained by the friction that the relationship with her mother represents«.

What do you hope the listener takes away from the track?

»I hope the listener feels invited into a space where although there is pain and melancholy, they can also feel that it is filled with hope, love, perseverance, and warmth. That intersection of ambivalence is kind of my “shtick.” I hope people want to sing along -- whether it be in the car, in the shower, or at concerts. Getting chills are my favorite reaction, so I hope the song can inspire that feeling. Most of all though, I hope it helps people feel seen and less alone«.

How is the track connected with the rest of your project?

»At the moment, I’m still figuring out what kind of album I’m making. A lot of the material is about depression and existential anxiety because I went through a pretty serious and extended bout of depression last year. During that period, my music career began to blossom and I started receiving the kind of recognition I’ve been dreaming about for years«.

»Experiencing both at the same time was a great contrast. I was sad that I was unable to enjoy and embrace the attention and momentum my music was getting. My overriding feeling was the want to just disappear. When I’ve struggled with depression and mental vulnerability in previous relationships, it was always worsened by having a partner because those partners weren’t able to handle it. Often, it even ended the relationships. But in this relationship with my wife, I feel more safe and supported than ever; to such an extent that it has quite literally kept me alive. So a big part of the material revolves around that love in juxtaposition with having mental health challenges. I don’t know… life really is a rollercoaster ride with extreme ups and downs and I try to encapsulate that in the music that I make«.

Is there anything else you want to point out about the track?

»I wrote the first version of this song with my friend RK Kolding in 2019. We played around with some chords over a beat in his studio and I sang some lyrics that I had hastily written on top of it. In the middle of feeling out the half structured, partly nonsense lyrics, the chorus materialized and we immediately got that feeling of “Yes, this is something special!” When the universe gifts you such a yummy chorus, it can be daunting to have the rest of the song live up to that potential. So the song was shelved for more than a year until I brought it to my first session with producer, Søren Buhll, last December«.

»During our studio sessions where we worked on production, it became clear that the original verses had to be scrapped completely and replaced with something that was honest and real on a deeper level. I knew I wanted to write a queer love anthem inspired by my own experiences so I spent a few long days stitching a lyrical tapestry that would be worthy. I consulted my dear friends and colleagues; Søren Manscher, Amanda Lea Kempf, and of course, Lorri, to get to the heart of the matter«.

»Another element that elevates the song is Austin Tecks-Bleuer’s bass lines. Austin is a musician and producer based in Montreal and the husband of my best friend. The bass is dynamic and gives the track some much needed bounce. Together with the drums, it grounds the track in a more indie rock sound, which creates a nice backdrop for the pop-ish melody and soft context. I actually don’t really believe in genres. I think it’s stupid and boring to tie yourself down to one particular sound. With this song, it was really exciting to lean into pop and create something that satisfies the ears immediately, both in melody and production. I think we really succeeded with that«.