I wrote the chorus of “PLAY PRETEND” when I was sixteen, still meeting strangers (boys) on the beach at midnight to kiss them and forget about the rest. When I was back home in Hawaii over winter break, I stumbled upon a voice note on my phone and had a little breakthrough. I realized I could finally build a song around this teenage moment of longing, confusion, boredom—all the things that defined my adolescence. It was easier to write now, as I can look back on that time of my life with some distance. I’m more confident in who I am now, and a little easier on myself. As a newly born gay person, it is easier to reflect and write on past experiences with a fresh set of eyes.

For queer people, it’s often difficult for us to explore healthy relationships, as we were all still in the closet, figuring ourselves out, while others had begun dating. This song is my little catharsis from the heteronormative, fairly religious world I was brought up in.

I wanted to make a song that captured the essence of my teenage years, that crazy desperation where it feels like your chest will explode because you like someone so much, then waking up the next morning and realizing you never cared about them—demonizing these chemicals in your head that made you commit these insane acts of love.

This song is a declaration of “I know this relationship likely means nothing but I’m going to live in every eternal second of it anyway.” It’s about not giving a shit and giving too many shits all at once, and capturing that manic feeling in time of being a teenager and falling for someone.

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