On June 19th, singer, songwriter and producer blackbear released “The ANONYMOUS Saga,” a short film comprised of the music videos for “SWEAR TO GOD,” “DEAD TO ME” & “HATE MY GUTS” off his fifth studio album ANONYMOUS.
The film is directed by Aidan Cullen, 19-year-old photographer/filmmaker, who is known for shooting the Converse x JW Anderson campaign at age 15 and creating videos for artists like Omar Apollo, and chronicles the internal demons and power struggles inherent in his relationships with women. The foray into video echoes the likes of Beyoncé, Janelle Monae, and G-Eazy who have all produced long-form visual albums, extending beyond just the realm of the music video. The short film, which details blackbear's tumultuous love life and inability to fit in with a crowd, depicts heavy drug use, intimate partner violence, and death. “The ANONYMOUS Saga” is a startling raw portrait of an artist wading through his own obstacles.
He is currently on his dead 2 the world tour, starting up its European leg in Oslo, Norway on September 28. L'Officiel met with blackbear recently to gain insight into his writing process and the lifestyle changes that spurred his most recent album.
Abraham Martinez: Tell me a little about how your week has been, what have you been up to?
Blackbear: So this week, started out, what's today?
BB: So where were we last Thursday, and I can tell you about the week? Okay so I started out last week by a pool with my feet up forgetting I was on tour, just loving my damn life, surrounded by tan beautiful women on the beach. Then I went to dinner that night and I realized I'm still on tour and I need to snap back into work mode, so I went and I played the Miami which was super surprisingly lit. I think it was the Filmore Miami. And then we didn't have any days off for the last five shows. It was Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Durham, Philadelphia in a row.
AM: Wow, insane. How do you normally, what are some things you do to get ready for a show or for tour?
BB: Well it's kind of the same thing every day. We wake up and find the nearest like coolest coffee place. We just love great, good black coffee.
AM: That's how you take it, black?
BB: Yeah, I love caffeine and what it does to me. We get coffee in the morning and we usually work out or we walk like five/six miles, which is fun because I have a little Apple watch and it counts my calories and my steps. It's like a really active day, then I pick out my outfits and we have meet and greet, and then I set up my speaker in here and we listen to YG and we get really crunk.
AM: Yeah tell me about your outfits, what designers you are feeling right now?
BB: Right now I'm in Saint Laurent head to toe except for the Vetements socks.
AM: Fuck yeah. Do you feel like when you wear, I guess, a certain outfit that you pick or whatever does it sort of help you, is it kind of like your armor?
BB: For sure, or it describes the place I am in my life. Like I think right now this tour is so, it just feels like the daddy tour. Like we have three tour buses, all the shows are practically sold out, and like I've just been dressing like a dad kind of. Like baggy Levi pants and vintage stuff and like...
AM: Bucket hats and what not?
BB: Yeah, definitely.
AM: Very cool. Now tell me about ANONYMOUS, why did you decide to go with that kind of name for the album?
BB: ANONYMOUS kind of came from, I guess this time around I wanted to kind of take the ego out of the music and not make it all about, oh look who I can get on this song and look who I'm with and look who I'm wearing and all this stuff and all this jewelry and everything. I've kind of toned down my jewelry and did the same thing with my music. Not so much toned it down but focused more in on the important things.
AM: Yeah, do you feel like, I guess, did you just kind of feel you needed to change the focus a bit?
BB: I think it just happened naturally in my life. I don't know, I just like kind of got sick of waking up feeling really shitty and like not working out and all this stuff. I kind of got on a workout kick and then like a feeling good kick and then I wanted my music to match that too. And I don't know, I started waking up earlier and like eating better and stuff like that. I think it's a part of growing up and it's just like you start making these choices like, oh, do I want this milkshake or do I want to just order water tonight because you realize you get older and start paying for it. So yeah, that's where I'm at in life and it matches my music.
AM: Very cool. What were some experiences you drew upon that kind of helped you formulate the album and the lyrics?
BB: I went through a big breakup, that was a big part of making this album because I was writing it in the midst of it all happening. It was very real for me at times, and then some of the songs are just reflections of old, past relationships and stuff like that or how I correlate them to what I'm going through right now or whatever it is. But I don't know, a lot of the songs are about setting yourself free and doing something for you, you know.
AM: Do you feel like the breakup was almost like a catalyst for a new...
BB: Absolutely. But like it was already my plan to be like, because that's what you do you work on a new album. You know I woke up, started to try to get healthy and that was like a year ago and then I worked on the album for eight months. So, I'd say four months in, all this real-life stuff started happening and that's why the album's so lengthy, there's 18 songs. I would say that's why because I had so much to say at that point. I was planning on making a ten-song album and then I was like, I have so much more to do.
AM: Nice. Do you feel like, what would you say at its core, is the message of ANONYMOUS? Is it just sort of focusing on oneself?
BB: Yeah, great way to put that. It's a look within, for sure. It's also like, life happens and we all just have to either keep going forward, I mean you can't go backward. That's really the theme of the album, moving forward.
AM: Tell me a little about your relationship with your fans.
BB: It's only grown into more culty and more culty and more culty. I think it was hype and fun in the beginning but like, I don't know when Digital it was kind of like a hype-y thing. Now it's more of like, it's hard to find someone in the meet and greet that doesn't have a blackbear tattoo of some sort like lyric.
BB: Yeah so it's super insane. I don't even know how to respond. It's like, wait. It's why I keep doing it.
AM: Do you still kind of get that little sense of, not surprise, but you're like, oh shit, this is happening?
BB: Oh yeah, especially when the tour ends and I go home and then I go out to brunch or something and somebody wants a picture and I'm like, wait, I'm off tour. I remember I'm still me. It's insane, I feel very grateful.
AM: My last question: what do you consider beautiful in this big world that we live in?
BB: Honesty. The fact that I can be honest is what makes my music beautiful, to me at least and to some other people. Anything genuine is beautiful to me.
AM: Beautiful. Thank you.