For the first time since the pandemic forced the world into self-isolation in March, Giveon finally has time to explore his new hobby: interior design. “I’m a minimalist, of course,” he says in a neutral tone. His living room is his first project. “A few friends saw Kanye West’s crib with barely anything in it and thought it was weird. To me it looks perfect. The disorder gives me anxiety. Not just at home, but also in his mind. Getting rid of the mental clutter gives way to more peaceful and inviting thoughts, like pondering Snoh Aalegra’s opening on his Ugh, A Mini Tour Again at the end of 2019; slashing her first million streams with sensual debut single “As I want you” from his first EP, February Take time; or win his first feature film, on “Chicago Freestyle” by Drake, a month later. But then come the unpleasant thoughts that inspired his new EP When all is said and done, released today. Like the time he called an ex five times in a row (as recounted in the title track) or feeds his ego by comparing himself to an ex’s “downgrade” (standout track “Still Your Best”).
For someone who has released two EPs in eight months – and in the midst of a global pandemic – you’d be forgiven for believing that Giveon’s romantic woes are endless. Truly, midlife was a crash course in self-improvement for the R&B crooner, who spent his time alone sifting through the emotions he had been suppressing for years. “The way I write, I have to tell the real story,” he says. “I can’t just make up a story. So I have to let things happen to me and allow myself to work through my thoughts.
Instead of turning to a newspaper or public newspapers like Twitter, Giveon took to the studio to record a four-track project updating fans on the cliffhanger of Take time. Where her debut EP offered a hearty dish of emotional pleas and painfully beautiful stories of the different phases of love, When all is said and done departs from some of these eternal themes. This time around the loverboy is still around – but he’s talking shit.
Bursting with atmospheric cooing and dreamy guitar strings, Giveon’s lyrics carry the sting of a hurt lover who hasn’t mastered the end of the relationship. On “Still Your Best,” he sings, “Whoever you’re talking about is supposed to take my place, is that for real? / It’s almost disrespectful.”
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Giveon assures me that he is not, as the young people of Twitter would say, a “toxic king” – that is, a man fueled by his own selfish desires, using destructive behaviors to make up for his lack. compassion and self-awareness. “I have these toxic times and then I try to find a way to fix this problem,” he says. Rather, Giveon believes he’s empathetic to his group of friends, a trait he inherited from his mother.
Born Giveon Dezmann Evans, the artist grew up with his mother and three brothers in Long Beach, California. In high school, he participated in a music education program at the Grammy Museum, which introduced him to the sounds of baritone comrades Frank Sinatra and Barry White – “I started to adopt him and not run away from him.” He says of his voice – and started to get the idea of pursuing a career as a singer. It was by listening to Frank Ocean and Miguel that he shaped his “contemporary R&B” sound, and once he perfected it, it was time to refine his writing style. He describes it as writing a drama: “I see my work as a story that flows and plays out in my mind like a movie,” he explains. “In a movie there are dramatic moments and a bunch of different moments that lead to a dramatic moment. On some songs I try to paint a portrait of before this drama happened, so by the time you get to the end of the project you’ve experienced the infatuation and the intimacy before it turned. in drama.
Giveon prioritizes creative storytelling over the haphazard reflections of the party tales, little breakups, and misguided sexual encounters that fuel today’s music. Some stories are drawn from his own experiences, others from the relationship difficulties of his friends. Around his brothers and his friends, the conversations become superficial, rarely turn to the deep and sensitive subjects of the love and the sorrow of which he sings. “My brothers and my pals, they are not really in phase emotionally or vulnerable. If I was with my brothers and my guys all the time, I don’t think I would be able to write telling and moving stories like I do, ”he explains. Long conversations with her mother allowed her to “learn to listen to women and understand how someone feels”. And so he built a knack for vulnerable storytelling that captures the internal struggle between fragility and strength.
In her early days, Giveon deftly portrays the bewildering chaos of a broken honeymoon relationship. “The Beach” holds the promise of a thriving relationship, provided his daughter feels safe with him on the “east side” of Long Beach, Calif., Where “it can get ugly.” “World We Created” finds the loverboy assuring his wife that despite her doubts and fears, he’s committed to her and “there is nothing or nobody that is ever going to break us.” He gets stuck in a tangle halfway through the EP on “Favorite Mistake” – a song he didn’t initially intend to include but became a hit – as he secretly exits from his current love for a situation he knows won’t end well (it doesn’t). As listeners reach “Heartbreak Anniversary,” Giveon picks up what’s left of her broken heart, foolishly building her hopes that her ex will return. She doesn’t, but he hasn’t given up on hope. Take time outro “Vanish” gives the singer a moment of clarity as he finally realizes that his actions caused his relationship to end. But he ends on an optimistic note: “I can be a hypocrite / I have things to work on / You have things to work on / But, we’re going, we’re going to make it work / I love you.”
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When all is said and done pick up where Take time left – Giveon is heartbroken, but he’ll never tell his friends. “[The album] starts with the state of mind of I don’t need this person. I know I’m the best this person has ever. Then we come into me trying to get a closure, but that closure ends up accepting that it’s gone forever, ”he explains. Like the house he decorates regularly, Giveon prefers sparse, airy melodies that never feel too crowded, giving his velvety baritone enough room to let his innermost thoughts slip away. In the opening moments of the intro, Giveon admits he called his ex a few times to right his wrongs, but when a friend asked him if the relationship was really over at the end of the song, he hides his hurt by leading with his ego.
“When the EP starts I’m frustrated, full of ego and pride, I say anything,” he says. “It’s a bit arrogant, but it’s a real intimate moment that I remember from that time, and it got me thinking about the conversations I had with a lot of my friends. It’s a little hard to come to terms with it or come out of it. The first song is therefore an adaptation mechanism. You try to deal with it by saying you’re going to be the best they have anyway. It’s their losskind of attitude, but you’re hurt deep inside, ”he adds. But the real Giveon shows up when his friends leave his side and he’s left to face his flaws alone in his bedroom. With a phone ringtone serving as a transition from ego-fueled “Still Your Best” to “Last Time,” a collaboration with Aalegra, Giveon takes off the facade and carries his soul as he snuggles up with the same person he convinced his friends that he was done with.
About halfway through our conversation, Giveon has a confession to make. “I don’t think I’m ever really alone,” he admits. “If I’m physically alone, I’m FaceTiming with someone. I hate being alone. I have separation problems and this is the first time that I am alone [in my life]. I hate that. I always talk to someone and always end up thinking about those old stories when I’m alone. Not to mention the fact that being confined to the house for months puts a magnifying glass on past situations and accelerated problems, he says, would have drawn the line anyway.
As we get closer to the album’s final song, “Stuck On You,” Giveon’s statement in the intro that “I’ll be good when all’s said and done” seems harder to believe. He accepts that no matter how bad he is for her and how damaging the relationship is for him, he’s too desperately in love to let her go for good. I call it toxic. Giveon calls it catharsis.
“These songs are about situations that happened six to eight years ago, so it’s a form of therapy to finally get rid of me after all this time,” he says. “I want to be one of those openly honest and vulnerable artists. Being a wild person is easy for some, but deep down, I’m just not that type of guy. I’m here in mourning and heartbroken like the rest of us. “
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