to hell with it

to hell with it

With her incisive lyrics and gift for harnessing classic UK garage samples, PinkPantheress very quickly became one of 2021’s breakout stars. Her debut mixtape, to hell with it, is a bite-size collection of moreish pop songs and a small slice of the 20-year-old singer and producer’s creative output over the nine months since her first viral TikTok moment. “I basically put together the songs that I put out this year that I felt were strongest,” she tells Apple Music. “I sat in the studio with my manager and a good friend from home whose ear I trust, and I said, ‘Does this sound cohesive to you? Are the songs in a similar world?’” The world of to hell with it is one of sharp contrasts existing together in perfect balance: sweet, singsong vocals paired with frenetic breakbeats, floor-filler samples through a bedroom pop filter, confessional lyrics about mostly fictionalized experiences, and light, bright production with a solidly emo core. “They’re all vividly sad,” PinkPantheress says of the 10 tracks that made the cut. “I think I've had a tendency, even on a particularly happy beat, to sing the saddest lyrics I can. I paint a picture of the actual scenarios where someone would be sad.” Here, the Bath-born, London-based artist takes us through her mixtape, track by track. “Pain” “In my early days on TikTok I was creating a song a day. Some of them got a good reception, but ‘Pain’ was the first one where people responded really well and the first one where the sound ended up traveling a little bit. It didn't go crazy, but the sound was being used by 30 people, and that got me quite excited. A lot of people haven’t really heard garage that much before, and I think that for them, the sample [Sweet Female Attitude’s 2000 single ‘Flowers’] is a very palatable way to ease into garage breakbeats, very British-sounding synths, and all those influences.” “I must apologise” “This track was produced by Oscar Scheller [Rina Sawayama, Ashnikko]. I was trying to stay away from a sample at this point, but there’s something about this beat [from Crystal Waters’ 1991 single ‘Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)’] which drugged me. When we started writing it, Oscar gave me the idea for one of the melodies and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this actually is probably going to end up being one of my favorite songs just based off of this great melody that he's just come up with.’” “Last valentines” “My older cousin introduced me to LINKIN PARK; Hybrid Theory is one of my favorite albums ever. I went through the whole thing thinking, ‘Could I sample any of this?’ and when I listened to ‘Forgotten’ I just thought: ‘This guitar in the back is amazing. I can't believe no one's ever sampled it before!’ I looped it, recorded to it, mixed it, put it out. This was my first track where it took a darker turn, sonically. It really is emo through and through, from the sample to the lyrics.” “Passion” “To me, a lack of passion is just really not enjoying things like you used to—not having the same fun with your friends, finding things boring. I haven’t experienced depression myself, but I know people that have and I can attempt to draw comparisons of what I see in real life. Like it says in the lyrics, ‘You don’t see the light.’ I think I got a lot more emotional than I needed to get, but I'm still glad that I went there. The instruments are so happy, I feel like there needed to be something to contradict it and make it a bit more three-dimensional.” “Just for me” “I made this song with [UK artist and producer] Mura Masa. I was sat with him, just going through references, and he started making the loop. I’ve never said this before, but I remember being like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to write anything good to this,’ and then it just came, after 20 minutes of sitting there wondering what I could do. The line ‘When you wipe your tears, do you wipe them just for me?’ just slipped off the tongue.” “Noticed I cried” “This is another track with Oscar Scheller and the first song I made without my own production. I held back a lot from working with producers, because I like working by myself, but Oscar is really good, so it ended up just being an easy process. He understood the assignment. I think it’s my favorite song I’ve ever released. It’s the top line, I’m just a big fan of the way it flows. I hope that people like it as much as I do.” “Reason” “Zach Nahome produced this track. He used to make a lot of garage, drum ’n’ bass, jungle, but his sound is quite different to that nowadays. So this was a bit of a different vibe for him. We made the beat together. I told him what kind of drums I wanted, what kind of sound and space I wanted, and he came up with that. With garage music, I just enjoy the breakbeats of it, the drums. It’s also quintessentially British. We birthed it. I think it’s always nice to go back to your roots.” “All my friends know” “I wanted to try something a bit different, and there were a few moments with this one where I wasn’t sure if I really liked it or not. After I stopped debating with myself it got a lot easier to enjoy it and I ended up feeling like it could actually be a lot of people’s favorite. The instrumental part of it is really beautiful; both producers—my friends Dill and Kairos—did a good job. It’s sentimental in a musical sense, and it’s sentimental in a personal sense as well.” “Nineteen” “This is a song that stems from personal experience, and kind of the first time in any of my songs where I’m like, ‘I’m actually speaking the truth here, this actually happened to me.’ Nineteen was a year of confusion, emotional confusion. I didn’t want to do my uni course, I wanted to do music. I didn't want people to laugh at me. I didn't want to tell myself out loud and then have it not happen. Internally, I was very sure and certain that it was going to happen, just because I'm a big believer in manifestation. So 19 was that transition year. Once I'd settled down and started doing what I loved, I felt a lot more comfortable, and actually, a lot more safe.” “Break It Off” “‘Break It Off’ was, I guess, my breakthrough track. It was the first time my name was being chucked around a fair bit. I fell in love with the original [Adam F’s 1997 single ‘Circles’] and I just wanted to hear what a top line would sound like on the track. So I found the instrumental, played around with it a little bit, and then sang on top. I think it got 100,000 likes on TikTok when I wasn’t really getting likes in that number before. The lyric is really tongue-in-cheek, and I think a lot of people on TikTok like tongue-in-cheek.”

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