Give Or Take by GIVĒON
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“The whole concept of the album is me having a conversation with my mom, and we’re just catching up,” GIVĒON tells Apple Music of his debut album. Hers is the first voice we hear, as she tells the singer how proud she is of him. Then comes the nocturnal breakup jam “Let Me Go.” “Decide if I am worth the time I cause you/Let me know or let me go,” he declares on the hook, before Mom closes it out with a reminder: “People make mistakes/People don’t always agree with each other/Keep that in mind.” Give or Take unfolds like the pages of a journal, detailing the romantic escapades of a twentysomething who loves love but isn’t always prepared to have it. Between wandering eyes, bad timing, and a desire to heal always at odds with the weakness of the flesh, there’s a bit of everything here conceptually. The songs are experiences he recounts to his mom, in search of advice or perhaps absolution. “That’s why the stories kind of feel like a roller coaster and not just one smooth story—because it was more sporadic,” he explains. “I really wanted to give people a look behind the curtains of a 26-year-old man growing up today.” GIVĒON’s gorgeous voice has the kind of grit and soul that imbues every lyric with emotional resonance; the production throughout further adds to the mood while also allowing his instrument to take center stage. As a result, these songs sound—and feel—like some of his most mature to date, even as he searches for romantic maturity within himself. “I just wanted to make sure I was being honest and vulnerable, and making sure everything was elevated,” he says, adding that there was little different about his approach this time around. “I made my other stuff in 2019-2020, so naturally, with the course of time, I knew I was evolving as an artist, so I wasn’t really worried about it.” By the end of it all, Mom is brought to tears—the happy sort though. Below, GIVĒON shares the ideas and inspiration behind each of the songs. “Let Me Go” “I always think it’s really important to start with just a hook—something heavy, drums, just rhythmic. Pretty much the story of this one is either we’re going to be something or nothing at all, and then it ended up being nothing at all. So, that’s really just the end of everything before. That song was really just the closure.” “Scarred” “‘Scarred’ really is just running into someone fresh off of a heartbreak way too quick and really just telling them, ‘I’m a fan of what this is, but it’s not going to work because the breakup is so fresh and because I still have lingering issues that need to be resolved. But selfishly, we could still do everything we’re doing.’ Because it’s just, I don’t know, sometimes it feels easier to be in something while you try to heal versus just healing, staring at a wall.” “dec 11th” “I’m pretty much just setting the scene for the next song, ‘This Will Do.’ It’s really just a message or a Bat-Signal for just a connection that I made while on stage. And then, the next song really talks about how fleeting those connections are because it’s stage and it’s not real, essentially. So, December 11th, I did a sold-out show in Houston and, yeah, that’s the date of that show.” “This Will Do” “Sometimes, production will have their structures, but I feel like, sometimes, artists—we know what feels better because we know what to sing over. We know when to let it breathe. And I love to go into that space where it kind of just makes it flow more. So, for ‘This Will Do,’ this is the beginning of the story of me saying that I’m single for the first project ever, really. And one of the problems I run into being single and being me is not being quite sure what’s real and what’s fake, but this song is me acknowledging that possibility and then just going with it—saying it could be fake, yeah, but it’ll do.” “Get to You” “‘Get to You’ was meant to feel exhausting. You have all these options and then, now, it feels empty. It’s just the bachelor—single life is old, but it’s also a message to someone saying, ‘Sorry that I’m doing this on my time, but I kind of had to.’” “Tryna Be” “‘Tryna Be’ is just as simple as, ‘Listen, I’m trying to be everything that I should be and even that I want to be, but…’ It really speaks on distance as well and trying to be the best you can be when you know no one is looking. It also speaks to the mindset of telling someone and just being honest and no one caring, which is a very real thing. You’ll tell someone, ‘Listen, I have this, this, this,’ and they’ll be like, ‘You know what? I really don’t care.’ It just speaks on how toxic today is. Not that it’s a new concept, but it’s just—I don’t know, it’s wild out there.” “Make You Mine” “This is all still a part of a journey, so these are just checkpoints that I was going through. Once I get to ‘Make You Mine,’ I start to fall back into the romance of it all. It’s a rare moment of me being more sensual and just light and dreamy. I only have a few songs in this space—‘WORLD WE CREATED’ and ‘Garden Kisses’—and ‘Make You Mine’ is where we just see that side.” “July 16th” “So, pretty much, it’s just a timeline. At the end of ‘Make You Mine,’ there’s a transition, there’s a conversation being had. It’s me saying. ‘I know I’m moving too fast. I just can’t help it. It’s just how I am.’ And ‘July 16th’ is really just the message of, ‘I’m moving too fast again and trying not to but doing it anyway.’” “For Tonight” “I kind of tried to have this song where it feels contradictory in a way. The sonics are so—they feel romantic, and it feels like it’s a love song. But if you scratch the surface and actually look and listen and read the lyrics, you could kind of see the truth peek out and the taboo-ness of what I’m talking about. Because that’s really sometimes what relationships are and what life is: It looks and feels right on the outside, but then, once you put a magnifying glass on it, you could kind of start to see all the cracks.” “Lost Me” “So, ‘Lost Me’ is—I’m always in something. I’m always romantically involved, but for this time, I’m going to actually try to just take time for myself and not be bummed out about it, not be melancholy about it. It was just more of a shoulder-shrug, like honestly, let me just, for lack of a better word, do me and not make it feel like there’s anything wrong with it. That’s why the sonics are so—there’s so much rhythm to it. There’s so much bounce to it. It has the drums; it has the light and airy acoustic guitar that you hear throughout the whole song. It was me just chillin’.” “Lie Again” “‘Lie Again’ is really, it’s kind of almost self-explanatory. It’s just seeking information, getting that information, and then wishing you never had it.” “Another Heartbreak” “[Piano ballads are] one of my favorite forms and structures of songs, to where I like it so much, I tried to limit it to just one on this album. I can make piano ballads all day. But for ‘Another Heartbreak,’ I just wanted something stripped back but that also feels cinematic. So, throughout the song, there’s key changes and chord changes, and it still has a building element to it—there’s choir vocals, there’s strings. And the song is as simple as saying, ‘I got one more heartbreak left in me, so this has to work, or I’m done off all of it.’ It’s really just me saying I can’t take another one.” “At Least We Tried” “I just wanted to make sure I had real good moments as well. It’s easy to tell these stories of heartbreak and melancholy, but to be able to balance it with ‘At Least We Tried’ and stuff like that is, I think, what really makes it an album. Because it could just continue to go on that roller coaster.” “Remind Me” “That’s one of my favorite songs that was written on the album because it’s just such an introspective one. It’s like you’re looking at someone and they’re reminding you of the old you, when you weren’t as thoughtful and when you weren’t as caring and empathetic. And now, you pretty much just ran into you. It’s just karma.” “Unholy Matrimony” “‘Unholy Matrimony’ is just so—it’s heart-wrenching, but also it is what it is. That’s how it goes. And the story is just so visual. You could see the white dress, and you could see the tux, you could see it all happening throughout the song. And these conversations with my mom throughout the album are real, organic conversations that we had, and it all just came together perfectly.”
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