Build A Problem

Build A Problem

Build a Problem, dodie tells Apple Music, is about “the problems I build in my life and other people’s lives.” But the title of her debut album also encapsulates something else. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the way people are built and shaped, and I feel like that is the main theme of everything I write,” the Essex-born singer-songwriter explains. “I am the problem that was built.” Released a decade after she first achieved YouTube fame, Build a Problem finds dodie candidly contemplating her mental health, her sexuality, and the pains of early adulthood. You’ll find the intimate, organic sounds that the singer—whose real name is Dorothy Clark—has always embraced, decorated with soaring strings (“When,” “Sorry”), pop melodies (“Hate Myself”), and gorgeous harmonies (“Four Tequilas Down,” a track so honest she considered not releasing it at all). All of which, she hopes, will offer a final word for anyone who sees her as “just a young YouTube girl.” “With this album, I wanted to make beautiful music. But I also wanted to prove myself. It feels good to do that.” Read on as dodie walks us through her powerful first album, and for her thoughts on eight demos she recorded during the UK’s 2020 lockdown, which feature as bonus tracks. Air So Sweet “I wrote this after I had a rare moment of feeling elated and in love with life. I just wanted it to burst through the door and be like, ‘All of life, hit me.’ It’s a great way of introing the album.” Hate Myself “This was written on a guitalele, and it was definitely inspired by HAIM and [2020 track] ‘Now I’m in It.’ I just thought the lyric ‘When you go quiet, I hate myself’ was so funny. It was certainly something I was feeling but didn’t know how to deal with, so I just laughed it off in that line.” I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You) “The idea of this song is that the narrator is drunk and in a pretty unstable place. They’re sitting in the back of a taxi after kissing someone who wasn’t the person they wanted to be kissing. And they’re going through the motions like, ‘It’s fine,’ but then dipping into this depressive feeling of, ‘I f**ked up. Get me home. I just want to turn off.’ It’s a short song about a very simple idea.” Cool Girl “I wrote this during lockdown. It’s more upbeat and poppy and talks about the suppression of one’s needs in order to be lovable. The title references Gone Girl, which is one of my favorite films. I knew I wanted some kind of growth, but I still wanted it to be very gentle. And the best way to do that is to add strings. They were recorded over Zoom and added more depth.” Special Girl “I didn’t realize I’d written two songs called ‘Cool Girl’ and ‘Special Girl’ until I was listening to them together. This leads into the more abstract, less poppy side of the album. You can think, ‘I’m broken. I'm unlovable.’ But ‘Special Girl’ is about saying, ‘This is who I am.’ The ending of it sounds like a hot mess—and that’s exactly what I am in the song.” Rainbow “I wrote this two or three years ago. I’d come out as bi, and I still wasn’t feeling entirely sure about myself. I still don’t. It was tough because the world was telling me that it was absolutely fine, and yet I still felt such an internal struggle with it. It’s a very sweet song, but there’s a sadness to it.” ? “The flipside of ‘Rainbow.’ It’s the anti-feeling—a kind of rumble. I wanted to be quite vague with it. People will take whatever meaning they need.” Four Tequilas Down “I wondered if I really wanted to put this song out there. I wanted desperately to alleviate some of the guilt I felt to my audience, who might see me as this perfect angel. I’m not. But also, part of me is like, ‘I don’t care.’ I wrote this in my bedroom, but I wanted it to be swirling, like your mind is going to all sorts of places. My songs never really sit in a place for too long.” . “A moment where you really let it all sit and you look at your problems and your choices. I wanted it to be a very quiet moment of understanding.” Sorry “This was just an apology and a moment of self-reflection after the realization in ‘.’ that your choices amount to something, that you hurt other people as well as yourself. This section is about finally looking at something that you’ve been pushing away for so long, and what that means in terms of processing. In therapy, I’ve cried so much I’ve wanted to vomit, and I wanted to express how that feels. This track has all this swirling, then it naturally settles. It truly is my favorite moment. It’s like something’s cleared. You’re ready to start again.” When “I wrote this when I was 19. It’s quite abstract because I didn’t really know what I was saying. I hadn’t gone through therapy and I wasn’t really sure of myself. And in a way, it kind of makes it more poetic and free. It amounts to this feeling of not being satisfied in your life and waiting for some things to be different. When I was writing the song, I was just starting to feel quite spacey and out of it, and that was the beginning of a mental health condition I now know the name of. But at the time, I thought this feeling was just here to stay. I kept imagining myself on my deathbed being like, ‘Oh God, it all happened, and I didn’t even feel any of that.’” Before the Line “This track is me really letting it all go and looking at my brain the way I do when I’m at my worst. I think it’s the angriest song I’ve written. But it’s me being like, ‘I’m f**king alive.’ This song has snippets of every song on the album in it.” Guiltless (Bonus Track) “‘Guiltless’ is about a difficult topic that I could never talk about publicly. There are those complex relationships in life where there’s so much love, but so much anger, disbelief, guilt, expectation, and resentment. This is a song exploring that, from a safe, vague-ish distance.” Boys Like You (Bonus Track) “I wrote this in two parts. I wrote the verses and chorus when I was enjoying exploring the power play of a potentially unhealthy dynamic. The lyrics in those, I feel, are more understanding and light, but as I came to write the bridge, I wanted to bring forward some of the heaviness and question why so many people fall into these addictive roles.” Bonus Tracks “Everyone needed a project in lockdown, and it was good for my brain to have something to do every day. These songs gave me so much. There wasn’t much pressure on them, and they came out easily. They’re a little lighter. I just love the idea of having something very pristine and polished as the main album, and then releasing all this pressure and having this B-side. It’s just me in my room, making mistakes.”

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