brent ii - EP
Labelmates Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler are kindred spirits—New York City talents and viral success stories with a shared affinity for no-nonsense songwriting through massive production, vocal runs laid bare, and simple, direct lyricism. For fans, Zucker and Cutler’s history is well documented: They met at a frat party in Connecticut, reconnected over a shared manager, and signed to Republic Records, eventually leading to 2018’s “better off” and 2019’s brent, their first collaborative EP. The songs were warm and affecting—piano and acoustic ballads abound. The second chapter in an ongoing story, 2021’s brent ii, recorded in the woods of upstate New York, continues the narrative. “Call it a sequel or a follow-up,” Zucker tells Apple Music. “Honestly, we were just trying to do better.” “It was a given that we were going to do it again,” Cutler adds. “Conceptually, it was a little bit more cohesive and a little bit more on brand.” Below, Zucker and Cutler break down brent ii, track by track.
this is how you fall in love Chelsea Cutler: “The way we wrote this song was pretty unique for both of us. We were actually recording those little vocal ad-libs at the beginning of ‘parent song,’ and Jeremy was like, ‘Do whatever comes naturally to you.’ I did one take singing, ‘Oh, my love, side to side,’ and we kind of fell in love with the line. We dropped everything that we were doing and sat down at the piano and started building a whole song around that concept of slow dancing and being in love.” Jeremy Zucker: “That was the last song that we did for the project. It was the missing piece. Chelsea and I really envisioned it as this archetypal wedding song.”
parent song Cutler: “This song is really just about the ways that our relationships with our parents change. I know the last two or three years for me, being fortunate enough to start a career early and gain a little bit more independence early on has created a really interesting shift in the dynamic of my own relationship with my parents.” Zucker: “You're an adult, and a lot of times your parents don't really see you as an adult. You're struggling to express how much it doesn't mean that you love your parents any less, but that you don't want to spend every second with them.”
emily Zucker: “We had both been in very dysfunctional relationships—and it's not a specific story, and Emily isn't a specific person, but we ended up using the name. We weren't going to call somebody out. Chelsea's middle name is Emily, so I was like, 'Oh, that's kind of cute.'”
brooklyn boy Zucker: “This is definitely a quarantine-pandemic song. A lot of the song is me building up this fantasy in my head of how I envision my life to be, and feeling frustrated that I can’t be that…I can't even go outside. Also, in the first post-chorus, there's a voice that says, 'Do you think the stars wish on us?' That's my really good friend Lauren [who records under the name Lo Nightly]. I was feeling that way one night, and she texted me that question. I was like, 'That's the corniest but sweetest thing I've ever heard.' I asked her to record a voice memo and send it to me, and it made it into the song.”
the stars Cutler: “For the first time in my life, I felt like there was validity behind the notion of wanting forever with someone—or the idea that you keep waking up every day and you still are surprised that you want to be with this person. In previous relationships, it was really easy to dismiss those things we all love to hear as just being words. We love hearing and saying things like, 'Oh, we're meant to be. It's written in the stars.' You don't really mean it until you mean it, and I think it was the idea of, 'Oh, maybe I really am starting to believe in this type of stuff.'”