Originally appeared on Grimy Goods. Photo by Michael Lincoln, color by Yasi.
Keeley Bumford knows what it’s like to gather your courage and face fear head-on. Her EP Terror Nights / Terror Days describes the very anxieties that have made her falter in years past, yet the release has a triumphant end. The Los Angeles musician and producer also known as Dresage begins the release with “Who I Am,” where she asks nuanced rhetorical questions, and ends it with a declaration of freedom and a deep sigh of relief on “Wild Sea.” Everything in between is bold and empowering; altogether, Terror Nights / Terror Days froths like the Pacific.
Read an excerpt of the interview below; find the interview in full here.
You used the phrase “melodic journaling” in a press release about the EP. I was curious if you had any anecdotes or wanted to share more about the songwriting process as it relates to your mental health.
Dresage: This EP was sort of me working my shit out. The only co-write is the song with Misty [Boyce, “Shame”]—everything else I did myself. It’s scary to be a solo artist. You have to be your own champion. All the songs on the EP are meditations on that theme. Most were written on a trip I took to the central coast of California. I was gifted time at this house on the water in Cambria for a writing retreat and I was feeling very unworthy, plagued with storms of anxiety and depression. The main songs I focused on there were “The Tiger,” which was me losing my shit on the first day, having a total breakdown; “Wedding Day,” when I got into the hypnotic view of the waves; and on the last day, the song that comes to mind most about melodic journaling, was “Wild Sea.” That track was the culmination of me getting on the other side of [those anxious feelings]. But it wasn’t just that one trip I’d gotten on the other side of—the whole process of writing this by myself and examining my own mental health again, and then coming to a place of relief like the [EP’s] final lyrics: “I got a feeling I was finally free.” Free from yourself and free from all these constructs, these little mind jails that you’ve built.
I noticed that (and maybe the videos informed my thoughts on this) there’s a lot of imagery of the sea and water. Was that related to your time on the coast?
Cambria is very special to me. It’s this magical blend of the Pacific Northwest where I’m from and southern California, so you get these like really moody, violent waves and none of that sparkling, bright SoCal vibe. The house is literally on the water. It’s so loud, the waves are deafening. Writing there absolutely informed those themes. I was also able to go back to that location to film the “Who I Am” and “Wild Sea” videos. And basically all the art except “Shame” was created up in Cambria too.
This EP is a very meaningful capsule to me of returning to the scene where I went through this breakdown and came out the other side. It draws on the idea of the location-based record-making, like when Feist recorded Metals at Big Sur. Which by the way is a dream, because your only purpose is to create in that place and then you leave with everything you made there. I love my studio, I try to keep it as creatively inspiring as I can, but it’s my office. It’s not where I’m expressing my darkest psyche and thoughts on the world.