Before Phoebe Bridgers came to dominate the somber ballad niche of indie rock music with her acclaimed 2017 debut album Stranger In The Alps, the singer worked with several producers to flesh out her sound. Though it seems Bridgers was born to write sad songs, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Bridgers recalls a time there were many who tried making her music lean towards an R&B genre.
In a recent interview with the New York Times’ Diary Of A Song series, Bridgers and her producers Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska talked about their process of writing the Punisher song “Kyoto,” as well as songs from her debut record. Bridgers said that before meeting Berg, she had worked with a handful of other producers who tried adding a trap beat over her vocals: “I had been playing, since I was a teenager, once or twice a month and then I graduated high school and it was just constant. I thought that was what it was. I met a lot of ‘producers,’” Bridgers said with air quotes, “that were like, ‘I’m going to put a trap beat over your voice. And Tony was the first producer — I think he’s the reason that my music sounds the way it does.”
Berg recalled meeting Bridgers for the first time, saying he instantly knew she was going to be a star. “She just found this way to sing heartbreaking stuff in an alluring way,” he said. “And that’s really been the story of her career I think. […] I signed Beck 25 years ago and this was the first time since that I heard one song and I go, ‘Okay. I’m In.’”
Watch Phoebe Bridgers talk about how she wrote her song “Kyoto” above.
Punisher is out now via Dead Oceans. Get it here.