Sacramento-based indie songwriter Bobby Halvorson is mere hours away from releasing his chilling new single, “Nothing Feels Like Home.”
The single, featuring Marcus Buser on bass and Cooper Wolken on drums, centers around Halvorson’s experience with a debilitating anxiety disorder, which many listeners will be able to relate to, especially these days. Like the dismal title suggests, the track is indeed more of a darker, introspective song that doesn’t necessarily inspire hope, but it conveys the dread and weariness one might feel when dealing with such a struggle.
With a degree in music composition, Halvorson spent over a decade in the Los Angeles music scene playing shows with his art rock band, Brother, Sister. He has also made a name for himself composing music for many artists including Morgxn, Inara George, Tim Heidecker, and Sondre Lerche before deciding to pursue his own music career.
Halvorson uses his music as a way to share his life experiences, lately with subjects like mental health and finding love during a pandemic.
We got the chance to chat with Halvorson about all of this and much more.
How would you describe your sound and style to those wondering what you’re all about?
I suppose it’s sort of baroque pop with an edge. I’ve always been a huge fan of The Beach Boys, Van Dyke Parks, Harry Nilsson and ELO, and I think their work shows up in the vocal harmonies and instrumental arrangements. I’ve always been into intricate and ornate textures.
What does a day in the life of your songwriting process look like?
Usually it starts with me playing a progression or groove and mumbling nonsense lyrics into a melody I like. Then I lay down a demo with rhythm section so I can get a sense of the vibe of the song. Then I find a way to fit words into the melody I’ve made up. This is usually the hardest part.
I see your new single, “Nothing Feels Like Home,” deals with the struggles of an anxiety disorder. How has making music helped this condition, or doesn’t it really? I could see it going both ways.
Well, those of us with this condition have a really hard time getting out of our heads. We tend to fixate on specific stressors that feel impossible to disengage from. Playing and performing music is something that occupies both my brain and body enough to keep me engaged, and it helps me find relief and clarity from the jumble my brain sometimes finds itself in. Anxiety has also provided some great inspiration for songs.
Is it a standalone single or can folks expect to see it on an upcoming EP or LP?
This song will be featured on an upcoming LP set to be released this year.
Where was it recorded and who helped produce it?
It was recorded and produced by myself. The drums and bass were recorded with the help of Marcus Buser who played bass and Cooper Wolken who played drums. We recorded them in Cooper’s garage in Pasadena.
How do you know when you have a quality song ready to be cut and distributed?
I have a lot of faith in my songs once they’re done. I usually feel this sense that there’s no more to add or subtract. And once I feel that, it just comes down to mixing. I am not in any way a schooled mixing engineer and have completely relied on my ears for this process. Considering my inexperience, I think I do pretty well.
What’s the Sacramento music scene like? What might you tell someone to sell them on it?
I honestly don’t know yet. I’ve only just moved here from LA. From what I understand, there’s a really strong punk and metal scene. I could get into that. I have a friend named Casey Lipka who plays with this amazing trio called Dear Darling, and they’re a local Sac band. She played here for over a decade with various musicians, so I’m going to tap her as a resource to get more involved in the scene here.
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
Playing and writing what you love without concern over how it will be received, and having the ability to be completely honest and uninhibited with your work. I’m not there yet at all, but that’s what I’m aiming toward.
I see you’ve worked on notable projects with folks like Tim Heidecker and Kiefo Nilsson among others. What are one or two pinnacle moments for you as an artist?
Working closely with Van Dyke Parks on his orchestral and chamber arrangements has been a highlight. I’ve always been a huge fan of his so being able to look under the hood of his arrangements has been a real pleasure.
What are some goals you’d like to achieve this year whether musically or otherwise?
I’d love to write more and get better at songwriting. There’s far less pressure in Sacramento to “make it,” which is exactly what I’m looking for. I just want to tell stories and make honest music.