Bedroom pop is a genre that has exploded in popularity within the past five or so years. The genre is known for its Do-It-Yourself style of production and recording. Songs pair a lo-fi quality of production with mellow, reflective lyrics. Bedroom pop artists are able to write and record music entirely by themselves, at home — a creative process made especially convenient during these times.
Massachusetts-based artist Senseless Optimism, or SO for short, calls herself a “loner who makes bedroom pop”, and wears the genre as a badge of pride. SO began her musical journey as a percussionist, practicing for 12 hours a day. She eventually learned to play the guitar, developing her vocal talents along the way. It wasn’t long before the artist started writing her own music, handcrafting lyrics and weaving them together with her instrumentation. This wide array of musical talents gives her music the DIY-quality that made bedroom pop explode in the first place. When listening to SO’s tracks, you know they were meticulously crafted by her and her alone, giving her a sense of authenticity that’s sure to attract an audience.
The latest project from SO is a double-sided release entitled Escapism, featuring the singles “My Mind” and “Run Away”. The two compliment each other well, both of the songs accentuated by melancholy synths and introspective lyrics.
“My Mind” is the first track on Escapism. The track opens with SO reflecting on her inability to find a lasting happiness, singing “And though I hope there’s a time where / I don’t have to whine but / I’ve never seen a day.” This paves the way for the chorus, which repeats the phrase “I can’t leave my mind / I can’t leave it I,” which leaves listeners spellbound with her haunting vocals. The lyrics cope with depression and loneliness, but do so in a way that’s soothing and meditative against her unique vocals.
Second in the duo is the song “Run Away” where SO personally invites the listener to run away with her. This track is the perfect bookend for the two-song project and provides us with the escapism promised in the title. We’re summoned to run away from the mundanity and isolation of everyday life described in the previous track, “My Mind”. She describes this as the “light at the end of the tunnel”, or finding the quiet strings of hope in the hopelessness of life.
Senseless Optimism has her new single, “The Better Place,” scheduled to release this Friday, October 23rd, which will be part of her brand new six-song EP Dreamland Demos.
We got the chance to about her new music, creative process, what it means to be a bedroom pop artist, and more.
So how exactly did you land on the name ‘Senseless Optimism’?
The name Senseless Optimism is entirely based on the mental space I am in when writing. I often use songwriting as a vehicle to journey through many states of depression I often find myself in. Senseless Optimism is about finding a way to try to find a silver lining in a seemingly hopeless situation, whether it may be my place in life, the world we currently live in, or my mental health. It’s about finding a light out of it. Hence why I always say, “Finding optimism in senseless times.”
You’ve said you lived around the world in various different countries. Do you have one city in particular that you think has inspired your creativity most?
I would say Colombo, Sri Lanka. That was a time in my life where everything around me: the weather, the beaches, the food, the music was all interesting, unique to the island, and absolutely gorgeous. Yet it was the lowest point in my life. It was the time when the first symptoms of my bipolar started to set in. I was suicidal, became a loner, and started songwriting. First with drums, then writing lyrics, and eventually learned to sing. I learned guitar after I moved back to the U.S. but, it’s often funny how things turn out that way. When there’s a reality outside you that is seemingly good, but you can’t break the glass.
You call yourself a “bedroom pop artist”, a genre which is still relatively new. What does being a bedroom pop artist mean to you?
A bedroom pop artist to me is someone who wants to break the expectations that usually come with a traditional “pop” song from the sanctity of your bedroom. I live in a room in my parents’ garage. All I have is a bed, clothes, and musical gear. When I’m not doing school work, or my part-time, I’m up all night working on improving myself, improving my craft, and finding different ways to let the message bleed through.
So your songs “Run Away” and “My Mind” were paired together as a double-sided release. Is there a reason the two were released together?
Absolutely, Escapism (“My Mind” and “Run Away”) are two songs about escaping everyday life. As an artist, or creative person in general, it’s hard to deal with the expectations society places onto you in terms of what they view the ideal life should be, mental health, etc. And oftentimes I want to run away. I try to find ways to shield myself from it, or at the very least release it. That’s where the songs come in because, at the time I was really going through the ringer with family and friends, just not feeling “good enough”.
And how about your upcoming single, “The Better Place”- what’s the inspiration and idea behind this track?
“The Better Place” is one of my favorite songs on my first EP, Dreamland Demos. “The Better Place” is inspired by my new lifestyle: I’m a loner who stays in my room all day, especially with our new way of living. So, “The Better Place” is a reflection as someone looking from the outside, wondering why others in life seem so happy, and beginning to look inside myself. I have a tendency towards hopelessness and existential feelings. And in the song I discuss how, at the time when I wrote this song, I found that the “better place” was where I felt the most safe.
Can you give us some insight on what emotions inspired you to write these tracks?
Usually when I write I’m in a pretty low vibration. I’m questioning the world around me, going through some sort of existential dread, tired, anxious, lonely, the list goes on. Songwriting is a way for me to release those negative feelings, which is the effect I hope to have on those who listen. I aim for people who feel at their lowest, to listen to Senseless Optimism, and feel even just a tiny bit better: to know that they’re worth it, and though life can be difficult most times, it’s worth living. Though I write music at my low points, I’m driven to help those who are like me.
You can play guitar, drums, and you obviously provide the vocals in your music. Which comes first for you when writing a song?
As cliché as it sounds, it depends on the song. Generally, these days, it’s either guitar or vocals. In the early years of developing my sound, I always started with drums and went from there (even after I started learning guitar), but as of recently, either a vocal melody or guitar. Still based in rhythm, but a different application.
Are there any artists in particular that helped influence your project Escapism?
A big influence on my sound overall is The Walters, but during the time of writing Escapism, I took a deep dive into Mac Demarco and Rex Orange County. Nonetheless, they’re always artists who are imprinted into my sound such as Fela Kuti, Led Zeppelin, Koffi Olomide, The Smiths, Marvin Gaye, Awilo Logomba, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Cosmo Pyke who I’ve either spent years listening to and/or listening to since birth.
And can we expect to see a full-length album in the future?
Most definitely. I’m working up to it, and aim to make a concept album in 2021, but I also don’t want to overwhelm my audience so, time will tell when the right time will be to do so. May be 2021, may be later than that but—definitely in the cards.
Lastly, what’s something fans might not have known about you before?
I’m a first generation American. My parents are West African immigrants (dad’s Cameroonian and my mom’s Sierra Leonean) who are definitely my idols in terms of work ethic. It’s allowed me to pay for all of my own equipment, work nonstop for my current and future fans, and most importantly, drives me to put out consistently improved projects every time I release.