When writing “Bittersweet” we set out a vision, to tell a story, to be honest about emotions. “Bittersweet” is the end of a trilogy that started with “Lightflare” – which was an album themed around the “cry for help” and “feeling lost in the world”. We continued the journey in 2019 on “Soul Searching”, as the title reveals, it was all about finding out what being human is and what boundaries and options we have.
This final chapter then accumulates the lessons learned, and its theme revolves more around “acceptance”, but not in a passive way, rather accepting the world as it is and dealing with it. And one way of dealing with is letting out your emotions, saying “I’m not happy” or “I’m too tired to explain this” is a state we should accept, and have patience with people. In this article I’ll break down the creation of the original, why we remade it and how it fits in the narrative of “Bittersweet”.
I usually don’t want to ruin someone’s experience and personal meaning of a song by talking about my own reasons behind them – but in this case I feel it is rather OK as it won’t do much damage to your own experience of the song, and it is a subject I feel that is overlooked a lot: either growing up, or having to deal with people with psychopathic traits (or cluster-b personality disorder traits).
So, why am I tired? A brief story about a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The chorus goes on and on in climactic anger and almost teen-angst vibe: “I’m tired of talking and explaining how I feel, explaining myself to the world!”. It is simply because explaining the very strange behaviours you see, grow up with (or other people live with) often defy reality and are in the realms of fiction when you’re explaining them. I simply was not believed for a long time, and that is exactly the prison you live in when encountering a person with psychopathic traits. As they wear a mask for the outside world, to the people closest to them, they’re a true horror show and can make life pretty horrible.
We’re talking about manipulative behaviour, and in specific detail: a father who faked his own death, involved the whole family and surroundings for a final blessing and was actively preparing his own funeral. Someone who gaslighted beyond belief, a person that was cruel to his own child from birth – and openly mocked me when growing up in front of friends and family members. Yet due to his mask, his manipulative behaviour and web of lies who would believe me, as I was always told by others (his co-workers, the doctor) he’s a bit ill and I should show respect. Even other family members had no idea what was going on. To be honest, I didn’t either, I didn’t have a name for it, but I fully knew this was evil.
I could go on and on, giving examples that one would easily dismiss as “you are overreacting”, or “you are not remembering it correctly”… But it is not my point to rant about my past life – I just want to give some examples of how crazy things can get, believe me they can get much crazier still. And I’m sure a lot of people reading have their own experiences with such people. The key for me was to paint a picture, a picture of “the wolf in sheep’s clothing”…
You see, a person with psychopathic traits doesn’t necessarily has to be a serial killer as often painted in movies… It’s simple: they can be your co-worker, your boss, your teacher or in my personal case your parent, my father…
And I knew something was wrong, it was only later I learned, and the surrounding members, that he faked all of it. We eventually called up doctors, and our MD started researching too – because things didn’t add up any more. And so his web of lies was torn apart, carefully crafted, vanished. And from that point on the monster, the wolf in sheep clothes, took off his mask without any bit of resistance or emotions. He said he’d move out and never cared for us all… Cold-blooded. And even to this day people believe his good stories, and not the story I experienced, or the MD, or my mother, or others entangled in it and saw the true nature of the beast. And that is why you kind of get “tired of explaining”, “tired of defending myself to the world”.
But why return to this song?
Not only because of the personal history this song has for me, but quite simply because it ties into the honest theme of the “Bittersweet” album. The lyrics fit right in the storyline and I felt this issue wasn’t talked about enough: mental health is still treated as something to be ashamed off; or not invested in. On that subject I wrote a piece as well “Over het zorgenkindje van de zorg: mentaal welzijn”, roughly translated: “About the worry child of care: mental well-being” (do know it is auto-translated by Google Translate, but it is readable ;-)).
I also felt there was unfinished business: I wanted to give the song new life with the power and emotion it deserved – as I felt it lacked the pure anger and emotive feel, where the original does a good job of being almost the opposite.
That is why this time I worked with a lot of gritty noises, electronic guitars, live drums on top of electronic drums and emotive strings that build up a kind of ethereal pop vibe over the punk, to make it electro-punk pop I guess… The additional key here was the voice of Addie Nicole of the band rock/metal outfit HALOCENE. I had worked a lot with her before, but only used her quite angelic and pop vocals. This time I wanted her to unleash that sound she does so well in her band HALOCENE, the raw mix of poppy vocals and grunge. Because layered underneath the repetitive vocals is a soft blanket of human vocal “aaah” backing-choruses to make it all blend well. I wanted to give this song a “second life” with more pop-appeal, but also with the aggression in the vocals – so that the storytelling audiowise added up to the lyrics. That is why I also started working in the first place with guest vocalists from all kind of genres, to get the best vocalist for each track, to get the storytelling on point!
Many things you don’t know, because I don’t tell them any more
It’s too difficult to explain: the story falls apart
Words are crumbles, little pieces of a puzzle: no beginning
The only thing I can say is how I feel today
Wasted pleasure, doesn’t stop,
now there’s always the drone and haunting
It’s too hard to understand
These thoughts remain the same
I’m tired of talking and explaining how I feel
I’m tired of defending myself to the world
Done explaining, truth and fiction, they collide
Don’t know when or where, things just happen for some reason
Guess who told me so,
Best I’ll leave it, give it a rest, no more angry faces judging
The only thing I will say is that I feel OK
This song is part of the “Psy’Aviah Rediscovered” project, celebrating 20 years of Psy’Aviah with a brand-new album & cover versions of old songs by other bands – including the one featured in this article – “Tired”. You can get a hold of the complete album via:
– 💿 CD: https://store.alfa-matrix-store.com/product/psyaviah-bittersweet-2cd/
– 💾 Bandcamp: https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/album/bittersweet-bonus-version