Oceanator Breaks Down Her Apocalyptic New LP “Things I Never Said” Track by Track

The indie-rock/pop-punk gem is out today via Plastic Miracles.
Track by Track
Oceanator Breaks Down Her Apocalyptic New LP “Things I Never Said” Track by Track

The indie-rock/pop-punk gem is out today via Plastic Miracles.

Words: Danielle Chelosky

photo by Alex Joseph

August 28, 2020

Oceanator’s Things I Never Said has crashed through the indie scene like a tidal wave. Singles like “Heartbeat” and “I Would Find You” were previews into Elise Okusami’s dynamic world; some songs feel like Worriers-esque pop-punk parties with vaguely pessimistic lyrics, whereas others are more subtle, synthy indie-rock journeys. In either case, she’s transporting the listener to somewhere completely new, walking us through her apocalyptic, but revelatory, stream-of-consciousness.

It’d be easy for Okusami to fall into a panic or a depression, but Things I Never Said is her persistence, her documentation of all she’s done to continue surviving on an earth that’s dying. She finds ways to be OK, singing on the poignant “I Would Find You”: “And when the sun comes up tomorrow / I’m gonna get up to see it / Just to make sure it’s all still here.” Doubt floats through this record, but optimism prevails, because she knows the sun will rise.

Okusami broke down each song on Things I Never Said for us below the album stream. The record is out today on Plastic Miracles.

1. “Goodbye, Goodnight”

This song for a long time existed with only the words “Goodbye, goodnight” in the chorus. All the other lyrics came much later. I put it as the opener of the record because it starts with a bang, and I wanted the record to just come on and hit you and grab your attention. We recorded this live at Wonderpark Studios. Eva Lawitts is on bass, and Andrew Whitehurst is on drums. I went back in and recorded the vocals and all the lead guitars later at my brother Mike’s studio.

2. “A Crack in the World”

Same info as far as recording here. I have this one and “Goodbye, Goodnight” linked because I feel like they are musically similar. This song is about being crushed by the world and everything falling apart, and trying to reconcile that with the way you always imagined things were going to be when you grew up. And also about trying to make the best of things and keep striving to make things better, but trying to stay positive enough to be able to keep going.

3. “Hide Away”

Same info again on recording! I think of this song as a kind of journey. I feel like it takes you on a whole story, with the different parts musically and also the lyrics. This is one of those songs that I kind of have a whole story for and video for in my head that’s way longer, and then I write the lyrics out of trying to distill that story down into a song. The original version of this was nine minutes long.

4. “January 21st”

The title is just the day that I wrote it. I named the demo of it that before it had lyrics, and that just kind of stuck with me. I think it works because I think the song is about overthinking and anxiety and the way your brain can spin, and I think, for me at least, I have some very acute periods of this that will last maybe a full day, and then the next day I’ll feel much clearer. This one was recorded at my brother’s studio. I played all the instruments.

5. “Heartbeat”

Back up to Wonderpark for this one! Eva Lawitts on bass again, but drums for this was Aaron Silberstein. I especially wanted to do this one live because while the lyrics are fun and cute, and the song overall is upbeat, I wanted it to feel a little bit antsy, and have some slight tempo changes, and if there was a metronome clicking away while we recorded it would have been harder for us to execute that.

6. “I Would Find You”

Recorded at my brother’s studio in Maryland again. He played drums and some of the synths, and then I played bass, guitar, and other synths. This is one of the older songs on the record, but I didn’t feel like it fit on the two EPs before this. I think musically and thematically it worked really well for this record. I’ve been describing it as a platonic love song.

7. “Walk With You”

This is my ’50s sock hop song! It was also recorded at Wonderpark with Eva on bass and Andrew on the drums again. This version is actually the first take. We started to do the second one and got halfway in and all looked at each other like, “Why are we wasting time? The first one was perfect.”

8. “The Sky Is Falling”

This one is another one of the older songs on the record. It was recorded at Mike’s studio, and I played all the instruments on this one, too. I kind of think of it as this person is at home by themselves, kind of lonely. Those are the parts where the guitar is clean but the vocals are a little distorted. Then the parts where the guitar is all fuzzy and vocals are clear is like what’s going on in their head, where everything is falling apart and a disaster.

9. “Sunshine”

This one was again recorded at Mike’s studio. The guitar solo was super fun because we turned my amp up really loud, but also put this boost pedal on it so it was just screaming when I wasn’t playing any notes at all. That’s why you get so much noise in between the notes.

I wanted to put this one last because I feel like the whole record is about anxiety, and stress, and caring about your friends, and the world ending. And it’s all fairly heavy stuff, though I do think the album as a whole is optimistic. But in putting this at the end I wanted it to be like, “Look, we went through all this stuff and we got through it and it’s gonna be OK even if things are sometimes awful.”