June 15, 2021
Tune-In Tuesdays #110: Breakup Films on “Just Whenever” & Their Upcoming EP
Indie-pop band Breakup Films posing on a playgroundSource: Breakup Films
Recently, we spoke to Ron Herscovici, Hai Barbi, and Shelly Reizis of Breakup Films to learn more about “Just Whenever.” We also discussed their personal connections with music and their upcoming EP, “My Head is Always Somewhere Else.”
Meet the Band
- Ron Herscovici – Vocals & Guitar
- Shelly Reizis – Vocals & Bass
- Hai Barbi – Lead Guitar
- Noam Debel – Drums
Music video for “Just Whenever” by Breakup FilmsSource: Breakup Films – Just Whenever | Breakup Films
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What roles do each of you play in the band?
Ron: I’m Ron, I’m the lead singer and guitar player. I’m 24-years-old and I’m from Tel Aviv, Israel.
Hai: My name is Hai, I’m also 24-years-old and from Tel Aviv, and I play guitar.
Shelly: I’m Shelly, I’m 23, I’m from Jerusalem and I play bass. I also do vocals.
When I saw your bio on your page, it described you as “the outcome of a teenagehood that stands between the days of MySpace and the dreamy, surf-inspired sound of today,” and that made me so happy because that hit the nail right on the head. I also have a soft spot for MySpace musicians and that whole era, so do you have any favorite MySpace artists from back in the day that inspires your sound today?
Ron: When I started getting into music in middle school, I got really into the Hot Topic/scene era of MySpace — bands like Black Veiled Brides, Bring Me the Horizon, and Escape the Fate, stuff like that.
I was really influenced by that, and some of those bands I still listen to, like Bring Me the Horizon. That influenced our music a lot — not in a direct way, though.
I was very much a scene kid when I was in middle school. I did listen to Bring Me the Horizon, loved Pierce the Veil, but my all-time favorite was NeverShoutNever
Ron: Yeah! They were a lot folkier than other bands from that era, which is interesting.
How did each of you get into making music? How did you meet, and what inspired you to start a band?
Shelly: I feel embarrassed that I didn’t have an emo phase after this conversation.
It’s okay, you were spared all of that
Shelly: I was heavily into… I don’t know, Deep Purple, I guess. Something like that. But I got into music because there was this stereotype about Russian kids — which I am — that they start playing piano and chess before they were born [giggles] and that’s actually what happened to me, as well.
I started playing piano and then I ended up with other instruments. I did not end up with bass, but it kind of hit me hard. After the army, I stopped playing then I came back to it, and I think Breakup Films was one of the first projects that I joined.
I quit all the other projects and now I’m focusing on Breakup Films because it’s the one I like the most.
How we met is actually kind of a funny story, because we met through Ron’s ex-girlfriend. She’s still really good friends with my girlfriend, so we have two different teams [laughs]. So that’s how we met. We were at a festival and I was like, “Ooh! That’s the bald guy that’s with that girl at the time!”
After that, he stopped being the bald guy and became my best friend.
Shelly: He’s still bald, though.
Ron: [Laughs] I am.
Hai: [Ron and I] actually met in elementary school, we were in the same circle of friends. I got into music while I was at my cousin’s house. I saw him playing “Sweet Child of Mine” in front of the computer and I was like, “WOAH! What is that!?“
Shelly: We still play “Sweet Child of Mine” every rehearsal.
I guess this one might be self-explanatory, but where does the name Breakup Films come from? Is that inspired by your previous relationship? Where did the whole film aspect come from?
Ron: I was in Japan, working and producing music for other people, and I really hated every project I was working on. I was working on some shitty rap songs and Israeli pop songs that I just really didn’t enjoy. I went to travel for two months, and while I was over there, I came to the conclusion that I needed to start my own project doing the music I like the most.
Then I just started writing down names — maybe a list of 20 or so names — that had a shoegaze/indie-pop/reverb-y vibe to it. I went all the way through this list and searched each one of them online to see if there were any other bands with those names.
About 80 percent of the names were already taken under the same genre of music, too. At some point, I got to Breakup Films, which wasn’t taken. I really liked it because it delivered that emotion of pondering about your life, which is the main idea of most of our music.
It definitely fits the genre, and it fits the aesthetic that you have in your music videos — they have a very old home movie quality to them.
Shelly: Actually, today I told someone about our band, and I told her to type in “Breakup Films” into YouTube, and she typed and said, “No, I can’t find you!” I said we’re the first result, and she said it was a real breakup film that came up and not our music video.
Aww! Well, how would you describe your writing and recording process? What is your home studio like?
Ron: Until now — until this EP that we’re releasing this summer — most of the writing was done by me since it started as a solo project. I was just writing the songs and making production drafts. When we started being a band, I kind of brought all of the parts to Hai, Shelly, and Noam our drummer.
Each of them took the parts and perfected it because they know how to play the instrument much better than I do, so they brought their own vibe to it and revamped it.
Shelly: We made it better, I think.
For each one of us, too, we all come from different worlds. You can feel how the world that each member of the band came from changed the part and inspired each of our own playing.
You all bring your own perspective to it, and that’s really cool! What do you find most rewarding about producing your own singles versus sending them off to another company or studio to finalize them?
Ron: Working on it by ourselves gives us a lot of creative freedom from the start. When you’re working with a producer, you’re obligated to his opinion, as well. You have to make compromises on each step.
Even when you have an initial idea, you might be too embarrassed to say it out loud because you’re scared it wouldn’t live up to his taste.
When we’re working by ourselves, we feel free to try different things. We can do something to the maximum, then take a few steps back to think it over and do as many corrections as we want because it was all made by ourselves.
I think it adds a sense of ownership, too.
Shelly: I feel like with our generation — or maybe the world that we come from — we did not see any other option than to produce it and do it ourselves. All my friends have home studios and everybody I know is making music by themselves — especially in indie [music].
Especially when indie started coming up here in the early SoundCloud days, a lot of big studios weren’t very hip to it yet. Then, when it really started to get big with Clairo and other artists, these studios started to take it more seriously. But even now, a lot of the indie artists I enjoy most are all self-produced, they do it right out of their bedroom most of the time.
Ron: I feel like most of the time, the grown-up people who work at big studios usually catch up on current trends much later than expected. And when they get to these genres, it becomes sort of an “old thing” once older people get to it.
Yeah! It’s kind of like, “Where were you five years ago!?” But, going back to what I was saying before, your music videos have a very home movie quality to them. It really compliments your whole aesthetic and genre. Do you use your own home video clips? And if you do, how do you choose which clips to include?
Ron: For the first four singles that we released, I was digging through videos on Internet Archives and editing them together. When we released “All Kinds of Flowers,” we wanted to step up from that place.
I have this couple that are also really good friends who are just naturally cute together. They just act like the kind of thing you want to see in rom-coms and indie movies.
They had only been together for two or three months, so they were really in the honeymoon phase and we capitalized on that [laughs].
Ron: And it was all super natural in the video, too. They weren’t acting or anything like that, they were just being themselves.
Tell me a little about your latest single that just came out, “Just Whenever.” What’s the story behind the track?
Shelly: I think I can quote it, I just remember how you [Ron] described it.
Ron: Quote it!
Shelly: “Making room for someone until you no longer have room for yourself,” right?
Ron: Yeah. I wrote it before the breakup with my ex-girlfriend, which most of the EP is about. But when we broke up, I saw there were a lot of things that were very prophetic with how the relationship ended. I just took the song that I made before, and I did some adjustments to it to fit the situation.
It’s really about giving someone the room she needs to be content emotionally and room to express herself. But at some point, it became a situation where her room to express herself came at the expense of my ability to express myself.
It turned into a state of apathy; where you’re numb and you can’t feel anything because everything just feels… the same. Routine gets to you, and you even start thinking about things that you enjoyed about the relationship that don’t enjoy anymore because you’re not there. Everything seems grey.
Shelly: It’s also a bit of an anti-party anthem, which I think is also important about that song.
Ron: “Just Whenever” is much dancier and pop-oriented than our other stuff, which is more shoegaze or dream pop-oriented. I got that same idea from Bring Me the Horizon’s song, “Oh No.”
I was really influenced by that contrast between having a really sad song about the end of the relationship, but the music is really upbeat. The contrast that it creates allows you to dance to it, but you feel really emotional. I like that combination.
Have you ever heard of Mitski?
Shelly: Yeah! I love them.
She does that same sort of thing where she’ll take a song that’s really poppy or chill, but the lyrics are much deeper or sad. Like her one song, “Nobody.”
Ron: Is she the one with the cowboy album?
Yes! “Be the Cowboy.” Her song “Nobody” is very dancey, but it’s all about feeling alone. So, you also have an EP coming out soon, “My Head is Always Somewhere Else.” What was your favorite part about creating the album?
Hai: I think it was the first time the band got to record together, and that was a lot of fun. To see Noam at the studio drumming was awesome. The whole process was amazing to do as a band for the first time, in my eyes.
Shelly: Ron, I know my moment — are we thinking about the same thing?
Ron: When we recorded the bongos?
Ron, Hai, and Shelly: [Laughs]
Shelly: I also play percussion, so we recorded some percussion parts. We recorded them in Ron’s old room while he was living with his parents. We started recording our very emotional bongos part for our fifth song, “Dancing in my Room” (which is not out yet).
Suddenly, we can hear his little sister screaming, “RON! SHUT UP! YOU HAVE TO TURN IT DOWN, WE HAVE A PRIVATE LESSON, YOU CAN NOT RECORD!”
And then his mom came, and she was like, “RON YOU NEED TO STOP RECORDING, YOUR SISTER HAS PRIVATE LESSONS!” And then we stopped!
Ron: That was like, two days before I moved out from my parents’ house, so I was SO CLOSE!
At that point, I guess you were like, “Ah! Thank God I’m moving” [Laughs]
Ron & Shelly: [Laughs]
Ron: At that point, I was so nervous about the situation and meeting the deadline for finishing it a few days before we would start mixing it. But Shelly was like, “Ron, you’re moving too fast. You’re moving in two days, don’t worry. It’ll all be passed you in two days.”
How has making music helped all of you grow as individuals?
Ron: It never happened to me with other music projects, but with this one, it was my first time making music that I loved and grew up interested in. So it finally was the place I felt like I’m not held back. I just bring everything that I want to put into my music naturally.
That’s what feels best about it. Being able to actually make it and it resonating with other people.
Like when you listen to our sound on Spotify, it sounds like chill indie-pop, kind of dreamy. And then when we played a show two days ago, the bass player from the other band that played with us came up to us and said, “It’s really awesome that you guys play emo music because no one else does around here.”
Hai hates this term, when people call us emo.
Hai: [Shakes his head] We’re not emo!
As someone who had a hardcore emo phase, you guys are definitely not emo. You’re definitely more indie-pop
Hai: Thank you! Thank you.
Ron: That’s the thing — when I hear it and friends of mine who are into pop-punk and hardcore music, they get the basis of coming from punk-based music and how it connects. Being able to take all of your inspirations and put them in a blender to put them into one.
Shelly: In a way, it made me younger, which isn’t necessarily the opposite of growing. But when I’m with the guys, I feel like I’m 16 again. I didn’t have a high school band, I came from classical music, so it was always my dream. It’s a phase I think I needed to go through. So I’m growing as I’m living through it now.
It’s also good to feel youthful and have fun, especially being in a situation where I imagine classical music must’ve been very strict and disciplined. I think it’s very healthy to be in a situation where you can relax, even if you feel like you’re in high school again.
Shelly: For some of us it is.
[Laughs] I moved out a couple of months ago, and as you can see my entire office is covered in colorful posters, cans, little knick-knacks. I’m in my early 20s, but I like having fun stuff around me.
Ron: Do you work from home?
I do! This is my full-time office, so when I have Zoom meetings, everyone sees the alpaca butt behind me. I get to work in a really colorful, fun space. But back to the question! Hai, how has music helped you grow?
Hai: Truly it’s the first band that I ever joined. So when I joined, I took it very seriously because I needed to come prepared to rehearsals and for the recording. It just made me super responsible — or at least trying to be super responsible, in my case.
You have band members that are depending on you.
Going back a little bit, that isn’t to say that classical music necessarily requires more talent. Obviously, all music requires talent and skill. As you said, your band members are depending on you. You have to coordinated. But I think it’s really cool that in Shelly’s case, it helps her unwind, and in your case, it helped you feel more responsible.
So — if you had one piece of advice to give to your listeners, what would it be and why?
Ron: I guess it depends on the situation and the overall vibe of yourself as a person. But I feel like a lot of indie bands are afraid to put themselves out there and actively promote themselves. Whether it’s sponsored ads or just using social media to their advantage, I feel most people are scared of that because it seems inauthentic, fake, weird, or that it’s “too much.”
I know it held me back for a long time before I got into it, but there’s no shame in putting yourself out there. We release music on Spotify because we want other people to enjoy it! Otherwise, we would just listen to it on our own phones at home.
If we release it for other people to listen to, we might as well push it — along with us staying authentic to who we are.
I think that’s great advice because a lot of people are very shy when they first start putting their stuff out there — whether it’s music, art, or writing. Social media really is a great, free tool for putting your stuff out there.
Ron: Everyone can do it in a way that suits them as people, just be authentic.
It has been such a pleasure talking to you guys, meeting you, and getting to know more about your work. Before we wrap things up, do you have any final thoughts or comments to share?
Hai: Listen to Breakup Films!
Ron: Yeah, check out our music night!
And follow on social!
Give Breakup Films’ latest single, “Just Whenever,” a listen now on Spotify or watch the music video on YouTube!
Be sure to follow Breakup Films on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to keep up with their latest music releases!