By Marcia Hunt
The cover of ‘These’ll Be Finished Someday’. Photo courtesy of Soundcloud.
Calder Mansfield, a Purchase-based singer/songwriter and bassist of the alternative band Dumpster, released her new EP on Feb. 6.
These’ll Be Finished Someday is a collection of lightly- scored demos primarily written last summer, and recorded quarantine-style in her bedroom.
“I had these songs stored up and I talked to my mom about it and I was like ‘I can never record songs blah blah blah,’” Mansfield, a screenwriting and history major, said. “She was like ‘alright well, let’s invest in a Focusrite [an audio recording computer interface]’. So, I got an interface for my computer and pretty much taught myself how to use it.”
The resulting EP is an exploration of her emotions as they resurfaced throughout the course of the pandemic.
“I think all of my songs are darkly funny, but definitely pretty sad,” she said. "That’s affected by the pandemic. I’m a big believer in what comes out of you comes out of you; I don't write stuff just because I think I need to fill a space. I think [writing these songs] was a point of catharsis for me. I probably would’ve come to terms with these feelings much later if I hadn’t been in solitude for so long.”
“Euthanize Me”, the fourth track, is an intimate account of an isolating school dance experience.
“I wanted to capture a specific time in my life which was this middle school dance,” she explained. “It was one of those times where you start to feel just true, straight-up loneliness in a room full of people, and also like you’re the only one who feels that way.”
Mansfield, like many other musicians unable to perform because of COVID restrictions on the music industry, knows loneliness all too well.
“I think that’s definitely how I feel now,” she said. “I’m alone all the time and part of what’s comforting is feeling like you’re the only one who feels that way. But the reality is we’re all alone six feet apart from each other.”
“A Boxer’s Song”, the second track, is Mansfield’s favorite. Originally, it was intended to be a witty homage to Mark Wahlberg’s depiction of Mikey Ward in the 2010 movie The Fighter. Mansfield wrote the song as part of a free-write assignment for Songwriting I last year.
“I was picturing like a boxer who’s just so bad at boxing, but he’s getting interviewed and he’s just so hyped about the interview," she chuckled. “I genuinely can’t figure out how it relates back to me, but I picture Mark Wahlberg when I sing it!”
A testament to Mansfield’s own willpower, the track features guitar techniques that she found difficult to perfect.
“I like the production of it the most,” she noted. “I play a second guitar part that I had to extend six frets for. I couldn’t play the chord the way I liked unless I did that hard stretch. [“A Boxer’s Song”] was just really fun to play.”
Although her EP is a softer contrast to the music that she creates with Dumpster, Mansfield is grateful to have the support of her friends, both in and out of the band, every time she makes new music.
“All my friends know I write music and [the EP] has been received really well so far,” Mansfield said. “Just to have people listen to my music means the world to me because I love people and I want them to know that. But I also don’t find that I’m hunting for validation. I know in my heart that my music is true to me and this is the first time I really feel like what I’ve written resonates with me on that level.”
She said she’ll consider the demos finished when they’ve been polished and other elements, primarily drums, are added.
“I think I really just needed to get this particular set of feelings out of my system,” she explained. “But [the songs] aren’t done yet.”
In the meantime, she’ll continue to stay true to herself and work on new music when ideas present themselves.
“I think I’m waiting for new emotions and feelings,” she said. “I’m excited for post-pandemic experiences and a wash of new emotions. There's really no controlled way to do it. Sometimes I find chords I really like, and no words come and sometimes I find a word or phrase that won’t get out of my head but no chords. It’s really just a waiting game.”