[Exclusive Interview]: A Therapy Session with Em Beihold on Her Self-Discovery Journey
Attempting to wring even the slightest sense of agency from the avalanche of success driven by the certified-platinum track “Numb Little Bug,” Em Beihold shared her experience riding through this new reality in her most recent release, “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad.”
The unplanned session.
Coming back from opening for Anson Seabra’s The Wonderland tour in May of 2022, supposedly exhausted and unmotivated, Beihold spontaneously and proactively scheduled a session herself with the collaborators to write the song. When they had a conversation about theme parks and the music industry, Beihold expressed her heart-sinking feeling: “when I get to the top of the roller coaster, I don’t get scared – I literally just get depressed.” Analogous to being at the top of the ride, topping the U.S. Adult Top 40 chart with “Numb Little Bug” last August was a dream come true but also overwhelmingly desolating for her. Contrasting the elevated status in reality with the sunken emotion level in “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad,” Beihold speaks her truth through candid lyricism:
Never thought I could get so low at a hundred feet – “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad”
It’s not easy to just take it easy.
While collaboration versions don’t usually reach the same measures as the original, Beihold’s version of “Until I Found You” with Stephen Sanchez broke the norm. Not yet acclimated to the waves of sensations – first “Numb Little Bug” and now “Until I Found You” – Beihold can’t seem to pause and celebrate the accomplishments along the way: “I was actually listening to a lot of my voice memos from before “Numb Little Bug,” and there’s just a sense of freeness that I had then that I feel like I lack a little bit now because I do feel the pressure. I wish I can say I don’t, but I do.” In “Rollercoasters Makes Me Sad,” the bridge repeats monotonously:
I should be having fun. I should be having fun. I should be having fun.
The repetition is almost heartbreaking to listen to when you realize music – something that was once a reprieve to Beihold – has become “forced fun” to her. “It’s actually music that really stresses me out right now,” said Beihold. Currently, silence and walks have become alternative remedies to exhaustion for her, and she hopes to re-appreciate music by the next conference interview.
I was never one for theme parks/Forced fun with the kids before dark – “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad”
Here I would translate “theme parks” to the fame she garnered. Therefore, she implies the intention of making music is never about gaining popularity for her but more about being relatable.
Capturing the uncatchable.
“I feel the pressure of how do I make sure that this moment stays, and how do I make sure the people who know the song but don’t know it’s me know it’s me,” said Beihold. Instead of being labeled as the “Numb Little Bug girl” or the “Until I Found You girl,” Beihold wants to be identified as Em herself. The transition from being independent to a signed artist upended her daily as if a countdown timer consistently reminded her of the paucity of time before she caught the next big wave. “I think once you’ve reached a point of success, you can’t necessarily go back and feel the normalcy. I kind of miss some of the normalcy,” said Beihold.
Upside down, the cameras flash/Messin’ up my brain real bad/All I know is this can’t last – “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad”
Switching the “Groundhog Day” narrative in “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad.”
Before things switched drastically, Beihold wrote “Groundhog Day” when dealing with stagnation in life: “I remember every time I open my eyes, I’ve seen this exact vision every day. The day’s gonna be the same. I’m gonna apply to a bunch of jobs. No one’s gonna respond.” Once she started posting on TikTok to “create opportunities” for herself, the narrative changed. Evidently, in “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad,” she has become the one moving forward despite dealing with another kind of confusion in life: “I guess in my head I was convinced that once you’re successful, all your questions are answered, but I didn’t realize it can get hard in different ways when you’re successful.” The songwriting in both songs has an unintentional parallel when Beihold talks about the ebb and flow of emotions at different stages of her life.
Up and down these emotional waves/I’m sick and tired of living Groundhog Day – “Groundhog Day”
Seems like when I get high up the top/my brain, it lets me down before the drop – “Rollercoaster Makes Me Sad”
Coming through the whirlwind.
Beihold admits that she is still figuring out how to manage the overwhelming situation, but she is learning to live in the moment: “Moments inevitably are gonna end but that doesn’t mean you’re not worthy anymore. It’s just kind of how this industry works, so just keep this equilibrium in your mind if you will.” Returning from a writing trip in Palm Springs with her favorite collaborators, Beihold felt peace being in the moment with them and not distracted by her phone 24/7. “It’s really important to stay grounded, keep working, have a community of people that you love and that love you are around you,” said Beihold.
Honesty, patience, and confrontations
Quirky and relatable is a common theme in Beihold’s lyricism. “I think there’s just so many things in society that we don’t talk about, so I’m sort of unveiling the norms that we accept a little too willingly,” said Beihold. Her releases almost act as time capsules that allow listeners to follow her growth as a human being by parsing through her lyrics. “I still have many severe breakdowns where it would be nice in theory to have a quick fix, but I would rather go through it and understand myself and why I get there,” said Beihold. Instead of writing motivational lyrics to pass a vexing episode of life, Beihold connects with fans through self-confrontation and speaking the truth about the perplexing reality she faces.
Dream collaboration: Regina Spektor
Regina Spektor is the reason Beihold started writing in the first place, and “The Call” by Spektor is particularly special to her. “I do take a lot of inspiration from her ability to not think about the rules and do weird chords and say weird things,” said Beihold. We can see traces of her peculiarity by looking at her song titles (Goo, Egg in the Backseat, Numb Little Bug).
Not everything is depressing.
She knows that her vulnerability is greatly reciprocated when going on tours and seeing fans shout the words she wrote to her face – it’s what she described as “the most incredible feeling.” Everything seems to have a fun twist regarding Beihold’s work. Behind these intense, collective cheers is a story about a girl suffering from anxiety. “I wrote first half of “Numb Little Bug” at the piano when I was really low, so it’s kind of crazy to see so many people screaming words that were kind of in your most sad thoughts but now in a bonding way. It’s like a very touching full circle,” said Beihold.
The awaited future.
It started with a direct message from Anson Seabra asking to open a tour to a call from Jimmy Fallon, and now opening for Lewis Capaldi’s North America tour starting on March 30th. “It’s just a blur tornado of opportunities I never would’ve imagined,” said Beihold. She is constantly moving forward to prove that the past wasn’t just a viral moment and that she will be here long term.
Listen to “Roller Coasters Make Me Sad” HERE
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