Track By Track: Glenn Hopper Draws Back the Curtain on His Debut EP ‘Something About The Weather’

Glenn Hopper
Glenn Hopper | Credit: Minori Ueda

Glenn Hopper has released his debut EP, Something About the Weather, via Pointer Recordings/Remote Control Records. Hopper’s songwriting and production choices variously recall the classy, Asylum Records-era of the Tom Waits catalogue, the atmospheric indie folk sound of early Band of Horses releases and the contemporary baroque pop of crooner-come-Adele-collaborator Tobias Jesso Jr.

In coordination with the EP’s release, Hopper – who, under the songwriting and production alias LEN20, has played a role in releases from Lil Nas X, Mary J. Blige, Kid Cudi, Cordae, YG and Nas – tells us about the creation of its five tracks. Stream and purchase the EP here.

Glenn Hopper: Something About the Weather

1. Heaven Didn’t Know

Glenn Hopper: I wrote this song when I was sick with Covid in the summer of 2022. I was stuck in my studio apartment and it was summer and I was living on my own for the first time. I remember spending a lot of time feeling a little under the weight of all of my thoughts and feeling like the world was a very heavy place that was full of complications that I couldn’t understand but couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I couldn’t stop trying to understand everything and it all felt like a big flood to me. It was also in that La Niña two-year period of crazy rains and it was raining so much and I was sick and taking lots of showers. I was thinking about the world in the shower and I was looking outside and it was raining and there was all this water coming down and I just felt so heavy – not necessarily in a bad or worrisome way but it just felt like a flood was coming.

Maybe I was going a little loopy from covid and cabin fever? And then, separately, I started to think, “What if heaven was a person, what would they be like?” I don’t mean Jesus or Buddha or a messiah, but what if this idea we have of “eternal perfection” was embodied as a person here on earth? What might they be like, and wouldn’t it be funny if they were actually kind of a delusional, toxic person because all of their expectations, and because their way of looking at time and relationships and happiness was based on this perfectionism that isn’t real.

I would think about Heaven, the person, as having a hard time dealing with endings and closure, always trying to believe that things could last forever. And how might Heaven relate to all these heavy thoughts about the world and their place in it?

2. Just For Now

Glenn Hopper: I wrote this one eight or so years ago, making it the second oldest on the EP. When I was younger I was quite into Jack Kerouac and he has a method of writing called spontaneous prose. It’s basically just stream of consciousness writing that you edit later, separating the creative and critical parts of the process so you can create with pure freedom.

I was writing like this for a few years and I would take it even further and not edit the songs at all once they were written. I just wanted to blurt something out in one go, and if I didn’t like a little bit of it, I’d just throw it away and do another one, until I had something whole that I liked.

I was toying with the idea that there was a right version of a song, and that you could get it right or you could get it wrong. It was like trying to carve something out of a single piece of rock, and if it cracked, I would start again with a new piece, because maybe the song would be strongest if it was all made out of the one thing. It turned out to be a better method of practising songwriting than actually writing good songs.

‘Just For Now’ was the only good one that came out of a batch of dozens of confused little ideas that would have loved an edit. I was happy to get ‘Just For Now’ out of that whole process. I played it live a lot over the years and it was the one that got stuck in everyone’s head. I started tracking this at the same time as ‘The Well’. I wanted to give these old songs a home so I started tracking it at 18YOMAN’s studio where I was working at the time, and it led to the rest of the EP.

3. The Well

Glenn Hopper: I wrote ‘The Well’ when I was 19 living in my brother’s house in the Blue Mountains. It’s the oldest song on the EP, and even though I made a demo of it when I first wrote it, I knew I wanted to wait until my skills were better to properly produce and release it because I really liked it.

When I wrote it, I was obsessed with lucid dreaming and I would prompt myself all the time to see if I was dreaming and would keep a dream journal. I got to the point where I was lucid dreaming pretty often and I could dream very vividly. It was very strange and fascinating and one dream in particular was very profound for me. I woke up and I immediately felt that feeling of the dream fading away, and for some reason instead of getting my dream journal to write it down, I thought, “I need to write it as a song.”

I start describing the dream and then it departs into these more general questions I had at the time – and still do – about life and living and dying. Every time I sing it, I still get a visual of one of the moments of the dream, sitting around this massive well on a mountain ridge next to the ocean with a group of friends and strangers. I still don’t really know what that means but it’s a lovely song to sing.

4. Easy Way Out

Glenn Hopper: ‘Easy Way Out’ arrived in a very similar way to the last song on the EP, ‘Tethered Word’. I wrote the piano part first on my mum’s piano in the Blue Mountains after a silent meditation retreat where you don’t talk for 10 days. You don’t listen to music or read or write anything up there, and I usually find after that much deprivation, I go sit at my mum’s piano and an idea I love comes right out as the first thing I play, and that was the case with ‘Easy Way Out’.

I had the chord progression for quite a while, maybe one to two years. I’d play it every now and then and think, “That’s gonna be a great song one day, but I don’t know what it is yet.” Some time later, I was I sitting at my mum’s piano again and I started singing the verse melody along with the words, “There’s an easy way out / But you can be there for a minute.”

I think most of the writing of that song and the lyrics of that song are just a way for me to try and figure out what that phrase means to me. Ultimately it means a few things: I guess there’s a healthy version of it and an unhealthy version of it, both of which I explore in this song. It’s a lot of fun. I feel like I really wrote it for myself to sing and to enjoy singing it.

5. Tethered Word

Glenn Hopper: ‘Tethered Word’ was also written at mum’s piano after one of those retreats. It would’ve been started around four or five years ago. Same kind of deal with the chord progression kicking around for ages until a melody started to come out. The melody had certain word-like syllables that turned into phrases and I ended up writing the song by trying to figure out what these words might mean.

At the time I wrote it, I was thinking a lot about a very dear friend I have. When we talk, we feel so close that it’s like we can read minds. It’s a certain kind of non-romantic intimacy, the intimacy of a best friend or a sibling. In spite of how close we were, I would still find it hard to share my thoughts and experiences sometimes, to be really understood. I was perhaps going through a bit of a nihilistic period and I was led to the conclusion that, no matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to really get beyond words, to share our inner self completely with someone and know that you are being fully understood. Words felt limited, even with my dear friend.

I wrote this song as a way to explore the feeling of loneliness and frustration that came with that realisation, but also as a way to work out what I would do about that thought. Through writing the song, I came to realise that with honesty and vulnerability, and the courage that that requires, we can have these great conversations with each other that do actually change our mindset, our world view, our feelings.

So, this song became a little anthem for myself to try to get beyond the limitation of words, to connect with people through words and to listen.

Glenn Hopper: Something About The Weather EP Launch

  • Sunday, 29th October – The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW (Free entry)

Further Reading

Glenn Hopper Releases ‘Easy Way Out’, Announces Debut EP

Track By Track: Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers on their Debut LP ‘I Love You’

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