"The moments are always when you hit rock bottom... It's when you hit this low that it's borderline life or death."
- Jacob Sartorius
When we look at celebrities, it's easy to think they live happy-go-lucky lives with their big houses, their fancy cars, and their perfect relationships. Nonetheless, behind the facade that most celebrities embrace are humans who deal with the same mental health struggles that we do. The difference, however, is their experiences are shoved in front of the camera for the media to make a spectacle of: Britney Spears in 2008, Lindsay Lohan's struggle with mental health and addiction, and Kanye West's diagnosis with Bipolar Disorder.
Now, musician and social media star Jacob Sartorius is choosing to share his own experiences with the world, with his new single 'Homebody.' But he's doing it in a way where people can relate and empathize with what he has to say, and maybe even learn a thing or two about their own feelings.
Where He Started
Sartorius has been involved in the arts since he was a child, performing in local plays in his hometown from the age of seven. Despite being a triple threat - involving acting, singing, and dancing - Sartorius found solace in singing in particular. "Music just happened to be the outlet I kind of chose to put more focus into," he says.
Sartorius has always found inspiration in performers that had the ability to 'free other people from concern'. "That’s what I’ve always been super, I guess amazed by and interested in, in how somebody can sacrifice their time in making other people get a break from the chaos they deal with on a day to day.”
Photo by Carter Dawson
"When I wrote this I think I was about three weeks sober, and my surroundings before that was parties, and being out all the time... I was in a place of really needing to be a homebody in order to get my health prioritized."
- Jacob Sartorius
A couple weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Jacob Sartorius released his new single 'Homebody'. The song serves as an anthem for individuals who enjoy the comfort of home and deal with challenges such as anxiety, heartbreak and depression, and strongly conveys the idea of feeling comfortable in your own home, and putting on a facade for other people.
'Homebody' talks about these things, but the song also serves as a light in the darkness for those on a road to self improvement. His latest single is a vast difference from songs Sartorius has written in the past. Most people know his hit single 'Sweatshirt' - which has been streamed over 33 million times on Spotify alone - but it's been almost a decade since that was released and Sartorius is now being more vulnerable when it comes to his lyrics.
Album Artwork by Daniel Kelly
Around January, Sartorius was enjoying time with his family in Lake Tahoe. While in the shower listening to Rick Rubin's The Creative Act: A Way of Being. Sartorius came up with the chorus melody for 'Homebody': "I'm a homebody, I don't feel like going out with nobody.
I don't need an invite to my own party. It's easier than trying to be somebody". The Creative Act: A Way of Being, is an inside look into the process of creativity, and how to take hold of the ideas constantly floating around us that we tend to ignore. When he got back to his apartment only a couple of days later, Sartorius recorded a rough draft of the song in his recoding corner in his apartment. A couple of weeks after that, around February, Sartorius met with singer/ producer, Richard Orofino, and played his draft of the song for him. Sartorius and Orofino collaborated to write the second verse of the song together, and record it in the studio.
There's a quote from one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous: "It's the little things, the silly things, the mistakes. There's only one of them and it makes the song." Despite being the first time they met, Sartorius and Orofino had a blast recording 'homebody', and if you listen closely to the studio version you can hear them drumming pens on glass bottles. "We were just having fun… we were just testing stuff and using weird sounds that might not be perfect, and I think that’s what we leaned into: It was like how do we make a song that's different? You know like something that’s not pop radio ready, something that feels like an honest expression.”
With an interesting concept of telling a narrative from the perspective of balloons, the 'Homebody' music video expresses the idea of mental health and relationships. Sartorius used the short film his friend, Daniel Kelly, made in college about five years ago. Shortly after finishing the song, Sartorius was at Kelly's house.
After Kelly showed him the film, Sartorious had the idea to mute the audio of the short film and ad-lib the song over it. Despite their differences, both the song and the film tie into the idea of mental health and heartbreak.
Sartorius, however, hasn't always been a homebody. The need to escape the harsh realities of life outside his bedroom has come in "phases" for Sartorius. Back in middle school, around the time 'Sweatshirt' was released, Sartorius was severely bullied to the point where he was taken out of school. To cope with the fact, he would make videos and content for the world to enjoy. "That was my outlet and my safe space, talking to this family that I created on the internet of people that supported me."
Writing As A Coping Mechanism
"I don't know what I'd do if I didn't make music. I'm grateful for it, because when I've been heartbroken before, I just always fall deeper in love with music. That's how I cope with it."
- Jacob Sartorius
In the 7 years that he's been online, despite being a social media presence, Sartorius has dealt with the same issues many of us face. A lot of people think that, because celebrities are rich and famous, they have perfect lives, but Sartorius has dealt with the same issues many of us face. Sartorius, however, has used his struggles as a way to express what he's feeling and 'explore more of himself through music'. "I liked putting out songs that I thought other people would like, and I still do that today, but it's more how can I share a piece of myself, and put myself on the line."
Sartorius is at the time in his life where it gets lonely sometimes, but he knows that taking time off to cool down and not be surrounded by the public and its judgment, is crucial for self improvement. Sartorius has pretty much grown up in the public eye, and despite being so young he has had to deal with bullying, addiction, mental health addictions and pretty much every other 'issue' everyone else deals with day to day. However, he always has one thing he can come back to every time: his love for creating.
Whether it's writing songs, performing onstage, or even creating viral videos, Sartorius thrives off making someone else smile, laugh, [or cry], at something he created. Sartorius has reached a point in his life where he's done basing his decisions on the validation of his fans - or even his haters. Before, Sartorius looked at music as a how-to guide on pleasing others, but now he uses music as a way to explore and learn more about himself. After watching The Butterfly Effect, Sartorius has accepted that turmoil is bound to happen. Life will continuously throw hardships at you, but everything happens for a reason, and if you change even the smallest detail in your life, it can turn out even worse.
"I feel like I'm in a place now where I'm able to be comfortable in sharing who I really am and not have to cover it with some ego."
- Jacob Sartorius
Despite releasing 'Sweatshirt' when he was merely 13 years old, Sartorius isn't embarrassed by the song. 'Sweatshirt' was a reflection of what Sartorius felt back in 2016, and 'homebody' is a reflection of everything he's feeling now, neither of which leave Sartorius feeling embarrassed or ashamed. With 'Sweatshirt' being Sartorius' first song, he didn't have much experience in the field of songwriting and producing music. He simply wrote about innocent schoolboy crushes, and a girl wearing your sweatshirt. "I didn't really self reflect on it a ton, I didn't have enough experience." Now at 21, Sartorius is taking the opportunity to use his recent struggles as a way to be vulnerable and to communicate with anyone he can.
By using songwriting as a means to articulate certain things that he's feeling, Sartorius can share a piece of himself through music, so that other people can possibly think: "I've actually felt that too, but I've never heard it said like that and that helped me discover something about the way I'm feeling."
Photo by Dylon Shogo