What does grief look like set to music? Ask rising singer-songwriter Gatlin, whose new EP I Sleep Fine Now charts her journey of grieving a relationship, from denial to anger to acceptance and all the messy ups and downs in between. Songs like “Paris” and “When You’re Breaking My Heart” combine sarcastically scathing lyrics with Gatlin’s signature alto resonance and earworm melodies. “Who the f*ck moves to Florida?” she croons on opening track “Really Funny” — a well-informed question from the Florida-raised, LA-based artist.
Now, Gatlin is fresh off her first headline tour, which brought her witchy aesthetic and ethereal indie-pop bops to audiences across America. INTO chatted with Gatlin about all things astrology, her gay awakenings, and getting a whole lot of sleep.
Hi Gatlin! Congrats on releasing your new EP. I know it’s based around the concept of the five stages of grief — how did you come to that idea?
I had a huge batch of songs, and I was kind of like, “Oh, these seven feel very cohesive, and they are mostly walking through this one relationship I had.” I was just listening through them, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m literally hearing me go through losing this person,” because it’s a span of two years of writing.
And how did you land on the EP’s title, I Sleep Fine Now?
The sixth track on the EP is called “How Do You Sleep At Night?”. It’s like a two-minute song, and it was the last song I wrote for the EP. And yeah, it just kind of felt like the answer to that.
“How Do You Sleep At Night?” is very heartbroken, like, gut-wrenching. For me, songwriting and music is such a healing thing, so through the process of making this EP, I feel like I was really able to let go of that person, of those feelings. And so, the answer is kind of, “I sleep fine now.”
Also, my band and I would talk a lot about — y’know, I’ve got depression, and for me that comes out with a lot of sleep. Like, I sleep a lot. And so when we’re on the road, there’s just so many pictures of me just sleeping in the most random places. And so I think it was just an easy theme of the time: sleep.
I think I saw a photo dump on your Instagram of a bunch of pictures of you sleeping.
Yes! It happens. A lot.
Speaking of photo dumps: this is a queer culture magazine, and I was stalking your socials and I saw that —
I’m a gay!
Yes! Which we love to see! In another photo dump, you referred to the Disney Channel original movie Motocrossed as one of your gay awakenings.
Are there any pop culture moments in your childhood that you think contributed to the gay that you are today?
Oh my god. That Motocrossed girl, that was a big one. Megan Fox in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. That was a big one. Shego [from Kim Possible]! I loved Shego. I feel like there were just so many.
I grew up pretty religious, so it’s now looking back at all of these things and being like, “Oh, girl,” which is just so, so funny. It’s fun looking back, like, “Oh, that one friend of mine? I was in love with her.”
It’s cool now having so many friends who grew up in a much freer environment and knew the whole time. It’s just cool now being a part of the queer community that’s so free and us talking about growing up and the differences and all of that. It’s just fun.
Oh, I love to hear that. So how do you feel like coming into your queer identity has manifested in your music?
I’ve always had a queer fan base, which has been really cool. And I think that comes with me just really being extra, dramatic, and loving sparkly, glittery things. And so I think the listeners, the fans, have given me this confidence to be fully myself. That just has looked like a lot of freedom to be me.
Having grown up religious, it is a touchy thing with some of my family. My future writing is me finally being able to say, “Okay, I’m ready to start digging into this.” I maybe didn’t have the confidence or I just wasn’t ready to start touching all of that. I was just like, “I just want to write about my breakups.” But I think publicly coming out and being able to feel loved by the queer community has given me the fill-up for me to now be like, “Okay, I can write and start working through some of these things, like religious traumas and not really being accepted by some of my family right now, and not all of them even knowing, because it’s not being talked about.” Southern culture, it’s a very difficult thing.
I have so many friends who are standing beside me. And I think my art will grow so much more from that, because I’m getting deeper, deeper, deeper, to the root of who I am and the hard things. I’m excited. It’s gonna be hard. But I’m excited.
Hard, but worthwhile! I also wanted to tell you how much I love the glitzy, old Hollywood looks you’ve been bringing with this era. What are your aesthetic inspirations?
I just got my black cat Binx (who’s my best friend) and just have been starting to get into tarot and astrology and all of these things. And it just kind of flourished into the themes being a little witchy.
I’ve always loved Stevie Nicks for forever and ever and ever, and always really loved glamorous, extra, over-the-top things. I think that with a lot of my background — it feels so hippie-dippie, but my chart is very earth and fire, and I feel like the fire comes out in a lot of the glam and a lot of the sparkles and glitter, and the earth is that I really like old, intentional things.
So yeah, it just naturally became that, and I really loved being involved in all of it. I did the styling, and being so anal about the set designs and what I wanted everything to look like — it was the first time I’d ever really done something like that artistically.
Speaking of astrology, what’s your sign?
I’m a Virgo. Virgo women are strong. We’re strong ladies.
You’re in good company. Shoutout to Beyoncé! ◆
I Sleep Fine Now is now streaming on all platforms.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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