Editors’ Notes poems of the past is the sort of title you might expect from a veteran artist looking back at a career that spans decades. But at the age of 21, emo-rap prodigy Isaiah Faber, aka Powfu, has earned the right to give his major-label debut that title, as he mines his high-school experience for vivid vignettes about being a hoodie-clad, earbud-sporting outcast, crushing on nice girls with asshole boyfriends, or, in the case of his viral breakthrough single “death bed (coffee for your head),” contemplating death. The son of Dave Faber, frontman for British Columbia alt-rock outfit Faber Drive, Powfu was raised on his dad’s pop-punk records, but he complements that heart-on-sleeve melodic sensibility with a lackadaisical flow set to chill lo-fi beats and bedroom-indie sounds sourced online. However, while poems of the past chronicles enough heartache and loneliness to make you genuinely worry about its creator’s well-being, Powfu insists these songs aren’t strictly autobiographical. “In a lot of my songs, I talk about my younger days and memories,” he tells Apple Music. “But I also like playing roles and looking at different people's stories.” With this track-by-track overview of the EP, Powfu helps us make sense of what’s real and what’s imagined.

death bed (coffee for your head) (feat. beabadoobee)
“Before I released music, I would listen to just plain lo-fi beats in the car. And when I heard this beat, I loved it so much—it's just so chill and nice-sounding to me, and I just had to write a rap for it. In the sample, beabadoobee's talking about going to sleep, but I didn't really want to talk about actually going to sleep, so I looked at it as being about death, you know? I was thinking about all the feelings and thoughts and reactions of people around me if I were to die right now. This is definitely one of my deepest songs—I usually don't talk about stuff that deep too often.”

im used to it
“In Grade 12, I had friends, but I didn't really hang out with anybody, and they all kind of started going out and partying, and I'd just stay at home trying to write music. There were always those girls at high school who'd be hanging out with the cool people and I would think they're cute or nice, but I would never want to go talk to them because they were just hanging out with the dickheads, you know?”

ill come back to you (feat. Rxseboy and Sarcastic Sounds)
“Me and Rxseboy wrote this together, and we just tried to write like a sad, dramatic love story about graduating high school and then going to college. Sarcastic Sounds, who I've worked with before, sent me the beat, and I loved it. It sounded like he had sampled an old song, and I thought it sounded sick, so I wanted to write for it. And then I actually met him in New York City, and he told me that he was the one that's singing on the track. I didn’t even know he sang; my mind was blown. So we're all actually singing on the track, which is awesome.”

a world of chaos
“Growing up, my parents would fight quite a bit. They would have breaks from each other, but they never, like, fully divorced. So I'm writing about what it would be like if I were in that position, talking about all the fights that we have, and how I don't want to break up because I know I'm going to regret it, but it's really hard right now, and I'm hoping we'll make it through these times. Yes, my parents have heard the song; I haven't told them what inspired it, but I think they know.”

popular girl, typical boy
“I barely know how to sing, I just know how to put Auto-Tune on. So I'm not good at figuring out harmonies. I'll call down my sister [aka sleep.ing] to help me with that stuff and I'll record her on the background of a lot of my tracks. But she's always wanted to be the main singer in one of my songs, so I thought this beat would work for both of us, and we wrote her verse together. This song is different from most of the Powfu stuff, because I was trying to chase a bedroom-pop kind of style—different kinds of feels and weird aesthetic stuff. I found that guitar sample on SoundCloud—it sounds like a really bad ukulele, but I like how bad it sounds. When I sing that line 'I don't listen to hip-hop or heavy metal,' I kind of lied with that one. What I was trying to say is that I'm not a cool person—I don't listen to what everyone else listens to.”

death bed (blink-182 remix)
“I signed to Columbia, and they asked me who I'd want to collab with, and I said blink-182 right away. And they were like, ‘Oh, they're signed to us. We'll try and get in contact and see if they want to work with you.’ So I was planning on writing a song with them, but apparently they liked 'death bed' and wanted to remix it. So I was like, ‘Okay, dope!’ The first verse is me, and then they took out my second verse and Mark Hoppus wrote his own lyrics and his own melody for his part. It was awesome. It's kind of weird too, because it's not a punk-rock song, so it's funny hearing them do a different genre. But it's crazy—it's really cool to hear them on one of my songs.”

SONG
death bed (coffee for your head) [feat. beabadoobee]
1
2:53
 
im used to it
2
2:55
 
ill come back to you
3
2:14
 
a world of chaos
4
2:42
 
popular girl, typical boy
5
4:06
 
death bed - bonus remix
6
2:13
 

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