castles, June-July 4, 2016
Gus had come home to New York in the end of May, completed the second half of crybaby, and then someone paid for his plane ticket to return to Los Angeles on June 8. The next day, Gus dropped crybaby. Gus’s living situation plans fell through. So, he stayed for a while with a friend named Elias. Gus was busy trying to make music with a multitude of collaborators while he was staying at Elias’s house.
Gus’s email shows that many producers he knew and didn’t know were sending him their beats. Gus continued to work with Nedarb--the sole producer of castles. At Elias’s place in Studio City, Gus and Tracy recorded wherever they could. By then, several people were staying in Elias’s small apartment. It was Elias who recorded Slug Christ’s vocals for the song called Pain. The day before Gus and Tracy dropped castles, Gus sent these photos to Slug Christ in his Twitter messages:
In the meantime, Gus was focused on performing and his increasing success. In our phone conversations, Gus would tell me about Ham on Everything, and that more and more people were coming to hear his music.
In other conversations, he was feeling stressed and pressured by his situation. Gus continued to meet people in the Los Angeles area. Later that month, Gus and his friends would move into "The Loft" at 443 South San Pedro St. in Los Angeles--and begin work on what would become Hellboy. Castles represents one of the links between crybaby and Hellboy--chronologically--and the cementing of Gus's new friendship with Tracy.
CASTLES 2 January 9-Feb. 7, 2017
Days before Gus released castles 2, his grandmother came to visit him in his Echo Park apartment. She was visiting with a friend in LA and arranged with Gus to come by. She went to Fairbanks Ave. on February 3, 2017. She was very glad to see Gus, and to see his place.
In one of our text exchanges, I reported this to him. Gus wrote back, “Love u mama. Miss u a lot. Working hard hope everything is great.” Two days later, we texted a little bit about the superbowl, and then Gus and Tracy dropped castles 2 two days later.
The songs were created in spurts, it seems, over a span of a month. The first song that appears in Gus’s email was your favorite dress, which Tracy sent to Gus when he was still in New York, home for Christmas. Gus had decided to stay longer in New York because he had an opportunity to work with a producer he admired very much named Harry Fraud. Eventually, Gus added his vocals to your favorite dress. There is a remixed version of the track in Gus’s email on January 25, your favorite dress was mixed one last time--the night before they dropped CASTLES 2.
During the winter of 2016-17 many producers were sending Gus beats. One of them, Charlie Shuffler, had sent several—re-sending seven on January 18 and three more on January 23. The beat which Gus used to make Dying Out West was originally called “follow & feel,” and was sent to Gus first on October 27, 2016. Charlie re-sent it on January 23, with the two other beats. Two days later, Charlie sent seven more beats, including one titled “nights,” which became Past the Castle Walls. Gus and Tracy never sent Charlie the songs they had made. Charlie had heard about it, and a week later sent an email to Gus, saying:
Can one of u beautiful pepole send me the songs i produced for yall off of castles!
i rly wana hear these joints
Thinking back on that time, Charlie wrote recently:
So basically me and Peep didn't make these songs in person. I sent the beats via email, and he sang over them with Tracy. But specifically for "Past The Castles" and "Dying Out West" I hadn't known he used those beats until I saw him at a show in LA. I don't remember if he was performing that night or who's show it was exactly, but I remember him coming up to me super excited, telling me, him and Tracy got on the beats. I was super happy that he used the beats and we talked for a little while and caught up. But it was just funny how big and impactful those songs and both mixtapes were but I didn't even know he used the beats until I ran into him.
Never Eat, Never Sleep and Witchblades (labeled Switchblades and Cocaine in the February 1st email) were made Feb. 1 and Feb. 3—both produced by Bighead, with Yung Cortex on Witchblades. The guys were all working at a studio together.
When asked to recall the time period when castles 2 was made, Yung Cortex said
…it all came together very fast in like one or two studio sessions while I was there!
A fond memory that I had making that was when bighead and I were making witchblades, we had been at the studio forEVER! And Gus and Tracy were just pumping the songs out back-to-back it was pretty crazy. And so while they were doing favorite dress (i think?) big head and I started this beat and it originally was a different sample, we made the whole beat and even added that super long bass slide into it before the other sample was there. After about an hour we shut the beat and I left the studio and went back home to sleep. After that I guess bighead swapped the sample on it to the three days grace sample and it sounded great, he polished the beat off and finished that and sent it to Gus while they were at the studio. Then a day later Gus called and was like “dude we went crazy on that beat you and bighead made!” I didn’t even expect that beat to become anything lol but it ended up turning into Witchblades! And I always look back at that experience while I make music now and try to not let myself judge my own music so quickly because you never know what it might become.
It turns out that February 2017 was a very productive month for Gus. After completing and dropping Castles 2 with Tracy, Gus made Hollywood Dreaming with Gab3 (Feb.9), Aquafina (Feb. 10), Benz Truck (Feb. 13), Save That Shit (Feb. 15), Brightside (Feb. 16), Thug it Out, Paid2Party, Cocaina Pearls (Feb. 18), Get You High (with Gab3—Feb. 20), Better Off Dying and IDGAF (Feb. 23), U Said (Feb. 27). He made even more than these, but you get the idea.