Home / Entertainment / Renforshort’s ‘Dear Amelia’ is an open letter on mental health

Renforshort’s ‘Dear Amelia’ is an open letter on mental health

Toronto artist renforshort’s songs offer a piece of her to relate to as she’s matured from angsty teen to 20-year-old adult.
At two she was playing the piano. At 16, the bass and guitar. There’s nothing else singer-songwriter renforshort saw herself becoming other than a musician. 

Growing up in Toronto, music was plan A and the only plan for renforshort, born Lauren Isenberg — whether it was writing, playing or performing it. As a student of Joni Mitchell, Jake Bugg and Nirvana, it has led to soul-bearing rock music that teeters between tranquil and rowdy.

From her singles “mind games” and “waves” going viral in 2019, and the success of her EP “teenage angst” in 2020, to “off saint dominique” in 2021 garnering over one million monthly listeners on Spotify, it became obvious that plan A had worked.

Every project’s release represents a milestone for Ren: whether it’s growing up on “teenage angst” or moving out of her parents’ place in “off saint dominique,” the songs offer a piece of Ren to relate to as she’s matured from angsty teen to 20-year-old adult.

Now, on debut album “dear amelia,” there is more than a piece of her. Although framed as a letter to someone else, renforshort is Amelia.

“Amelia is not me in my physical form. I describe her as like a personification of this part of my brain where you put a lot of stress on yourself,” renforshort told the Star, sitting on a pristine white sofa at the top of the Universal Music Canada building in Toronto after a listening session for the project.

“Sometimes you internalize a lot of things and you’re like, ‘This is an issue that I’m dealing with in my life; I don’t feel comfortable sharing it with other people, so I’m going to put this on myself.’”

Life in your early 20s can be filled with emotional turmoil and “dear amelia” is a reflection of that. Emotional and mental stress can hang over the heads of young adults like a Sword of Damocles to the point that it’s hard to understand what’s normal. Often bottling up her emotions to a boiling point, renforshort uses her tracks to externalize problems.

“If something happens I get upset about it, I write a song about it and then talk to my therapist about it,” she said. “It’s like a whole cycle.”

That cycle runs close to impact. Lyrics like, “If I take an elbow to the face one more time, I think I’ll break / I’m not saying I’m a saint, but you’re hell,” from lead single “moshpit” aren’t those of cold calculation but of visceral emotion.

“I like to get the rawest emotion out of myself, so if there’s a day where I have a session set up that’s been like set up three weeks in advance and I feel like nothing really has happened or I don’t feel super inspired by something, I’m like, ‘Can we move it tomorrow?’ Because who knows what’s going to happen today?” she said.

The rawness of her lyrics allow people to examine not only how she feels but how they feel as well.

Like many artists of her generation, Ren is open about her mental health and sees a space to mention it in her music. Instead of coding things or trying to disguise messages in metaphors, the lyrics on “dear amelia” are plain-spoken.

“You can analyze artworks like a van Gogh piece and be like, ‘This is really sad.’ You feel this, but when you’re young … you can’t really think like that,” she said. “And I think with my music my goal is to (put) that forward and make it relatable for people of all ages to listen to it.”

Renforshort’s bouts with disassociation are evident in a track like “not my friend”: “Maybe, I’m, I’m not my friend / Just someone stuck in a body / Ashamed that I’ve been hard to find / But I try to keep my promise,” she sings in airy vocals over a solitary guitar and wispy background vocals. The ability to be explicit with her storytelling also bleeds into the project’s production.

Primarily a guitar-driven artist, renforshort’s collaborations have led her in slightly different directions, namely Travis Barker. With “we’ll make this ok,” instead of her lonesome guitar, she’s accompanied by a cacophony of video gamelike synths accentuating already livid lyrics.

And then there’s the final track, “amelia,” a piano ballad with renforshort’s vocals deteriorating via vocoder throughout the run time as she agonizes over the idea of loss and fading into obscurity.

“I think that was just fun for me. I enjoyed it and I thought, ‘Why not just surprise some people?’ Like I always say, don’t feel like artists need to conform to a certain genre,” she said.

Regardless of what the production sounds like, renforshort feels that her message isn’t unique; the delivery is. There are people who feel the same way and have the same struggles: they’re just looking for someone else to relate to.

“I’ve learned through talking to people and through my music, I get a lot of messages about how my songs have helped people or how they didn’t know other people went through these things. And that’s the goal, you know, if it helps one person or if it helps a million people, it’s like job well done.”

 

Demar Grant is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach Demar via email: dgrant@torstar.ca

*****
Credit belongs to : www.thestar.com

Check Also

Help Herlene Nicole Budol design her national costume for Miss Planet International 2022

Herlene Nicole Budol (Facebook)  Beauty queen Herlene Nicole Budol took to social media to ask …