Photographer / ANGELO KRITIKOS
Story x Stylist / ANGIE PICCIRILLO
Hair and Makeup / ALISON CHRISTIAN
Music Video Director / EMMA SYDNEY MENSES
Graphics / GARY COUTTS
For the last year, songwriter and producer FINNEAS has been primarily focused on finishing his younger sister, Billie Eilish’s debut EP, don’t smile at me, which was released on August 11th. FINNEAS co-wrote and produced some of Billie’s most popular songs to date, including “Ocean Eyes,” which has over 70M+ spins on Spotify. “I’m in Love Without You” is just the first single from his promising solo career.
At only twenty years old, FINNEAS has managed to take inspiration from his iconic influences like the harmonies of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” experimental sounds from The Beach Boys, and classic spot-on songwriting of The Beatles. Though he may seem to be a millennial who loves the music of Jacob Banks and LANY, he was brought up on a healthy library of musical genres that have resulted in a musical depth and ability to draw on the greats — bringing them to heightened, and inventive new levels.
The track takes a minimalist approach in which FINNEAS uses handclaps, a bass line and only his voice — in order to create a magnificent hip-hop groove with an undeniably catchy pop vocal, with just a dash of R&B flare. With that, he’s likely to remain a “genre-less” artist — as he’s not one to be put inside a box. If anything, he’s like a mad scientist mixing all the potions he was warned not to — all in the name of creating conceptual storytelling, that runs the risk of either being something new, or possibly exploding.
The idea for any song for FINNEAS normally starts with a concept or a story, or in this case — an actual thought, “I’m In Love Without You,” as he once accidentally ran into his ex-girlfriend whilst with his new one. The line stayed in his head, as it resonated with him. When asked what’s most important to him with his songwriting, FINNEAS will always give you the same answer: honesty — and in this case, the song stemmed from a human moment, with two people caught in that honesty, completely off-guard.
The music video was directed by Emma Sydney Menzies, whom FINNEAS gives conceptual credit to: “Emma wrote the whole treatment after she heard the song and I LOVED it. I’ve always loved movie theaters and super 8 footage.” The video carries the honesty that FINNEAS is always striving to push, “I think it really sums up what the song feels like when I sing it —the way you can think about a past relationship, all the good and bad even if you’re currently in a really happy relationship,” he says.
The video shoot wasn’t all serious however, FINNEAS says “we filmed it overnight, starting at 11pm and ending at 9am. At 8:30am, I had a trash bag full of popcorn poured all over me… it’s the butteriest I’ve ever been.”
Sonically, “I’m in Love Without You,” begins with over twenty layers of vocal harmonies which FINNEAS has said to have taken from his time spent singing in the choir. The layered harmonies were left untouched for a few months, until one night he woke up with the idea on exactly how to finish it: he chopped up and sampled the harmonies to create an inventive instrumental track, topped with a melodic and raw vocal dancing through it.
The answers for unfinished songs often come to him at weird moments, sometimes in dreams — his social media biography simply reads: “I have a song stuck in my head that doesn’t even exist yet.” And whereas some people may take that as an arrogant remark, those who know him will understand he’s just simply telling the truth.
His lyrical sensibilities reach a level of sophistication that seem damn near impossible for anyone under twenty-five to have written. In comparison to other lyrics of similarly aged musicians, FINNEAS’ lyrical structures seem far beyond graduate level poetry and literature majors, with undertones of reprises, overtures and outros seemingly taken from the full-length structure of a Broadway musical. More impossibly, it seems hard to believe that someone so young, could understand love and put it into words that carry such universality.
Perhaps his most heart breaking lyric will resonate with anyone who’s ever been in love before: “You’ll love me less and less as you lean in against his chest and hear the heartbeat that only beats for you,” and if it doesn’t, maybe you aren’t human.
One thing is for certain— FINNEAS’ ability to run with his musical experimentation, sheer talent and honest love for music results in an inventive masterpiece, and lucky for us, he’s just getting started.
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