Crybaby was Gus's third solo mixtape. He had released LIL PEEP; PART ONE and Live Forever in 2015. Crybaby was the first mixtape Gus made with some of the producers he had met online. Gus had communicated with these producers via email, Twitter, and texts, but this was the first time he actually met and worked with some of them in person. These were new collaborators, also. Gus was branching out and, as always, experimenting with musical styles. Crybaby was made after Gus had ventured out on tour with Schemaposse in Tucson, ended up in Denver for about a month, where he met and lived with LeDerrick and Yung Goth, and then wound up back in Los Angeles.
Gus left Denver in late March, early April 2016 and went back to LA. He ended up staying with his friend and old house-mate, Brennan Savage, in the house they had moved into in September 2014—When Gus was hoping to go to Glendale Community College. Lederrick and Yung Goth were there, too, as were several other young men. The place was full of people and creative energy. During all of that time, Gus began to make the tracks for the Crybaby mixtape. Below are some of the text exchanges between Gus and me between April 23 and May 27, 2016—about can openers, underpants, t-shirts, and coming home for a visit, and money. I overlaid on top of the texts some dates and references to Crybaby-related creation dates and other events.
In the first couple of days in April, Gus and his housemates made a song called Homecoming. Killstation took several photos of Gus, and sent Gus the album art for the single.
In the three photos above, Gus is wearing a t-shirt I had bought for him on the Long Beach boardwalk and sent to him. He had worn a white t-shirt with the same phrase and images on it for years, until it had worn thin, and likely been lost or traded. That t-shirt had been given to him by his grandpa. It said: Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism Since 1492. Pictured were some of the victorious generals from the Battle of Little Big Horn. I knew he would like to have a new one, so I had bought him this black one.
Brennan sent this pic of Gus from 1700 University Drive.
Here is Killstation's album art for Homecoming which he emailed to Gus on April 3.
April 12, Gus sends three beats for Adam McIlwee to choose from for a song.
April 13, Absolute in Doubt is created.
April 13, nineteen is created.
Gus chooses this photo for the album art:
April 19, Ghost Girl is created.
April 20, Nick Everitt emails the crybaby dove to Gus.
Gus at his friend Tyler's house in Island Park with Tyler's dog, Peanut.
Gus downloaded this piece of art and emailed it to himself on May 24, calling it "Jensen." The artist is @trasherslip. Her is her instagram page:
May 28, Gus emails the tracks for Teen Romance, a three-song EP he was also working on at the same time, to his friend Sherif Rashed aka LeDerrick. All three songs were produced by LeDerrick. Gus recorded the tracks at Tyler O'Conner's house in neighboring Island Park, New York, and mixed them there and at home. He wrote some of the lyrics on a piece of Tyler's junk mail.
Gus took a selfie with Taz.
On June 4, we had a backyard celebration for Oskar's college graduation. Pictured below are Oskar, Emma, Gus, Dana Vargas, Skylar Kahan, Nick McCloughlin, Quinn Donovan, Ian Grant, and Taz.
After the party, Gus and Emma hung out in his room. She took a picture of him with his new Crybaby tattoo.
Gus flew back to Los Angeles on June 9. The next day, he completed Skyscrapers with Cold Hart. That day, June 10, Gus dropped his mixtape--Crybaby.
Below are some recollections of the producers whose collaborations appear on Crybaby as well as some of Gus's housemates from 1700 University Drive, Pasadena and friends who watched him create some Crybaby tracks.
Nicholas Everitt (Crybaby artwork designer)
I first became knowledgeable of Gus through soundcloud one day when I stumbled across the record "Your Eyes" produced by Ledderick. Honestly I'm not too sure how it came across my feed; at the time I wasn't really familiar with anyone related to him (at least not knowingly). The cover being the first thing I noticed - I was immediately drawn to his aesthetic. Those ski goggles and pink hair lol. Around the same time I saw the "Beamer Boy" video on youtube. He has the same ski goggles, wearing fingerless gloves, and some sketchy tattoos. It felt so raw and transparent. He was laying it all out there for us. - I made some fan art for him initially, a drawing of just his head with pink hair & john lennon style glasses on a yellow background, I remember him posting that to his instagram and was pretty stoked about that. Some time goes by and I notice Gus make a post on Twitter looking for graphic designers. I sent him some artwork I had done - including the drawing he had already posted that I did for him. He DM'd me shortly after that with the intentions of getting a T-shirt design done. He was looking for a Dove with a script that read "Crybaby", I remember him saying he wanted "lots of tears". He sent me the pretty iconic photo of him biting his thumb for the reference. We were on a short time frame, ultimately that design got drawn overnight while listening to Lil Peep Part One sitting on my bed. My inspiration being various Traditional Tattoo artists such as August Coleman, Bert Grimm, & Sailor Jerry. I played the design off of a traditional "Swallow". He was excited for the logo when I sent it back to him. Fast forward a week or two, mid May, and the White Tee video drops with Yung Bruh. They come out of the Yellow truck wearing a shirt with the design on it lol - that was a trip for me. About a month later Gus releases the "Crybaby" project. I was unaware he was using the logo for that at the time, so I was quite surprised to say the least when I first saw it on the SoundCloud feed. Amazing how far that music & artwork has traveled.
Dylan Mullen aka Smokeasac
Cian Patterson (Lil Jeep)
I first was introduced to Peep through Fat Nick on May 24th, 2016 via iMessage at which point I had never heard of him or his music. We exchanged contact info and I immediately sent him some beats. Later in the day I joined his twitter live stream where he was previewing a song on my beat that he had just recorded that ended up being Lil Jeep. Over time we didn’t get many opportunities to really communicate but I have one memory of Nick calling me late one night over FaceTime and he was with Gus, they told me they were working on a certain beat of mine and Gus appeared in the frame for a short period and said hi and thank you. This made me really happy. On October 25th, 2017, Peep came to the Toronto show where I attended with some friends and watched him perform and seeing him sing the song we made was a special moment for me.
Cold Hart (Big City Blues)
Crybaby, my favorite tape you ever made. It has all the homies on it and it’s almost like a time capsule of the early la days. I produced skyscrapers using a death cab for cutie sample and I knew u would be the only one who would gas the beat. And I remember Gus loved I was making these country-ish songs and we would talk about how we were boutta make the new country swag so he sent me big city blues and me and you to get on. Instantly I was like omg this is too smooth I gotta hop on ASAP. I didn’t like my original verse on me and you because my mic was shitty but I liked big city blues so we kept that one. The funny thing is Gus didn’t even care bout the mix he was just happy I got on so he kept it as it was And uploaded it ♥️still singing these big city blues to this day buddy.
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal (Absolute in Doubt)
I have very little recollection of how “Absolute in Doubt” came about, except that--like most of my experiences with and around Gus--it happened unusually fast and somehow worked out quite well. The turnaround from meeting Gus to him joining GBC was about thirty minutes. Details for my involvement with both of the short tour of which I was involved came together a week or two before the actual shows. “Avoid”, our second song together, was written and recorded in one night. “Absolute in Doubt” wasn’t much different.
Gus e-mailed me three beats on April 12th, 2016 that were intended for his Crybaby album-- one from Smokeasac, one from an unnamed producer, and the beat to “Absolute in Doubt,” produced by Foxwedding. Foxwedding had become one of my favorite producers around this time, and I was so focused writing to mid-to-up-tempo beats at the time, so I chose that one. Gus told me I would have to send the vocals to Yawns later that week, but in 2016, I wasn’t great at writing and recording things with any sort of time constraint. I had just finished recording a song that I intended to be the b-side of the digital “She Doesn’t Believe in Thelema” single, so I used my short vocal part from that song (link) as the foundation of “Absolute in Doubt” which, at the time, had no vocals on it at all.
The rest of the process was unremarkable and not very memorable because in April of 2016 writing a song with Gus wasn’t as high pressure as it might have been a year from then. He was a peer--not even necessarily a friend, as we had talked exactly once on the phone before this song came about--and his star was undoubtedly rising at that point, but working on a song together just felt like a slightly-overdue collaborative experience that I might have had with anyone in GBC at that time.
The reaction to the song eventually did become remarkable. I’m certain “Absolute in Doubt” is the most popular song with which I’ve been involved, rivaled possibly only by “Avoid.” Gus and I would go on to play only 15 shows together, but almost every one of those shows ended with us performing “Absolute in Doubt” as an encore - something I never understood, but for which I will be grateful forever. I still don’t understand it: Gus had bigger songs that he could have kept fans waiting for at each show, and I am certain that when people cheered when the first few notes of the song played they were cheering not for me, but for the chance to hear one more Lil Peep song at the end of the night. (A quick aside: Gus was very good at knowing when to back me up when we performed this song. It’s hard to sing - very wordy - and from the first time we played it, I would just look at him when I needed a line filled in and he knew exactly what to do - for which I am also forever grateful).
I still perform this song often, and with mixed feelings. I do it when people from GBC are around, usually because I’m encouraged to do so by them. I play it as an encore if the crowd wants one because it’s the spot in which Gus placed it in his setlists. I often feel guilty about it, because while I helped write the song, it feels so much more like one of Gus’ songs than it does mine. It’s something I wrestle with often: do I give the crowd what they want - to hear a Gus song - even though he’s not there to take part in the performance? Is the excitement around that song, and the reaction of which I’m the beneficiary, something of which I should be proud? And I often settle on this line of thought: I am proud and privileged to have been a part of Gus’ life - even if our time together was brief - and I am happy to perform the song as a tribute to him so others can experience some part of his being through my shows. I strongly feel that I would not have half of whatever popularity has come my way without Gus bringing me into his life, so when I perform “Absolute in Doubt,” I’m doing it as a way to remind both myself and others of why I am where I am.
Sherif LeDerrick (Crybaby, Ghost Girl)
Months of growing friendships and good times overflowed into some songs that would go on to change my life. It was spring in LA, we were all living in Brennan Savage’s 2-bedroom house in Altadena that was always lively and filled with all kinds of people, musicians, videographers, clothing designers, blog writers, and girlfriends. Everything was going our way, we were a group of fresh-faced youths, in Los Angeles for the first time. Everything was new and exciting. To the outsider’s perspective what would have seemed like a chaotic atmosphere, for me and Gus was an environment ripe for creativity. As long as we were making music for the love of the art form, and loving and respecting each other, good ideas flowed freely, and everything else fell into place. A couch, an end table, a cheap microphone covered with a sock, a 2015 Mac desktop with a large crack in the screen, and a red Scarlett audio interface.The stage was set for us to take a crack at making an imprint in history. We would sit in the living room and make the beats on my desktop computer, then Gus would take the finished beat into the room he was crashing in (or wherever he could find privacy) and lay down the track. He would mix and record all the vocals himself on GarageBand, a very basic free software on which he was a wizard. He recorded and mixed the majority of his songs on GarageBand, using a genius, complex process that was completely self taught and self discovered. As Gus would say “Im just pressing buttons until it sounds good” but I saw a much more calculated and cohesive strategy take place. “How did Gus do that?” Is a phrase which was commonly uttered. In about a two week period we recorded Ghost Girl, Crybaby (both of which were made in the same 2 day span) Falling 4 Me, Suck My Blood, Regrets, and Teen Romance (as well as a few others we would release as well as several throwaways). We were all in sunny LA, having taken a de-facto pact that we would all leave behind everything in order to pursue our dreams of making music, the only thing we knew would bring us happiness and take us where we needed to go. The energy of this was evident in the tracks that I made on Crybaby, they sound very hazy, laid back, a lot of them were slower songs than his later works on Hellboy. At this time everything was great and laid back, spirits were high, the world seemed full of limitless fun and possibilities. It shows in the music as on some of these songs Gus carries a much more positive mindset. The reason the album was called “Crybaby” is because Gus wanted to urge the listener to question their own plights in relation to the suffering experienced by the lesser fortunate humans and animals on our planet. This was a very positive time in his life and this is evident in Gus lending a proverbial hand through some of the lyrics. Gus sat beside me on all the productions. He loved to watch and I loved to hear his suggestions on how he wanted the beat to sound. We were together every day for months, I sat in on every session and every verse he recorded with anyone, by the time we started knocking out tracks it became a very easy rhythm because of how comfortable we all were together. He was a genius songwriter, with no training he just had a natural knack for production, he was an effortless perfectionist. A lot of the small nit-picky edits in the beat that only the most trained ears would hear were done by him. He was an enigma when it came to his music knowledge. He learned so much in so little time. He was so effortless that I would not learn until many years later how hard it ACTUALLY is for most artists to write a song in comparison to Gus. As soon as I gave him the beat he would mutter some lines start writing some stuff done then 5 minutes later he’s got the hook. Repeat one more time and he’s done. He would relax for a while--sometimes days or weeks--and wait for that inspiration to hit and once it hit he was a machine. That why all his music is straight from the heart and not forced. It all comes from a real place and he would use music as a means of expressing emotion. When he was in those moods he would get on almost every single beat I sent him. He’d be asking me for more and I couldn’t keep up. He would never force himself to try and record or try and force lyrics out, and when we were making Crybaby, was one of those times where he felt a crazy wave of musical energy. He finished the whole tape in weeks. Crybaby will always be a special project for its raw energy and emotion and the punk nature with which it was created.
Another thing I will mention is I feel around the time Crybaby was made there was a much more positive mindset incorporated into the songs. Everything during that time was new, fresh, and exciting to us and it doesn't have as much of the dark lyrical content that later projects had. Everyday we would get some exciting news or something that livened up the mood. We were also around so many other artists that we were in a very creative headspace. Working on the tracks didn't feel like hard work, like a lot of other projects I have worked on with other people. Gus was in a good headspace around this time. It was kind of the eye of the storm for him. He didn't have to deal with the stresses of success yet, but was also not having to deal with the stress of being completely unsuccessful. For Teen Romance he just called me and was asking for beats so I just emailed him a bunch of stuff. Most of the rest of the tracks we made were (created) in Pasadena, but after he released Crybaby he told me he wanted me to drop some of the other tracks we made so we sat down and picked the tracks together--Which was a really kind move obviously because he wanted to help me by having the songs on my pages. But I don’t think he expected people would like those songs as much as they did because that’s why he didn’t include them on Crybaby. I don’t think they really fit the Crybaby vibe, though, as they were too light. I think he wanted Crybaby to be a bit more grungy because when he was asking me to make beats he would choose grungier sounds and samples
Charlie Shuffler (Big City Blues, Yesterday)
The songs me and Gus worked on are beautiful. The energy on them are so raw and real and it makes so much sense. One of the reasons I love them so much is because from my perspective, it was so much fun making them and it was so effortless. Don’t get me wrong, hard work was put into them, but we did not “try” to make something amazing, it just happened. They were some of the first beats I ever made and I will forever be grateful for this project because it showed me I could truly make something out of myself from music. Crybaby is truly a masterpiece and everyone who helped create it are amazing artists. Love!
Braden Morgan/Nedarb Nagrom (White Tee)
The recording process of Crybaby was super cool to watch. Peep just really worked from sunrise til sundown barely sleeping to get it done. I was only part of one song, “white tee,” which (was made) the day Peep met Tracy. I introduced them and they hit it off instantly. They picked the beat out which I had already made a couple months ago while I was in New York. They proceeded to write and record the song in one sitting. Killstation was over, too, during this, and they shot the video in one take (the first and only take) the same day. Then we dropped the video I think the next day and the rest is history.
Brennan Savage (house-mate, friend)
I often reminisce about the spring of 2016. I’m constantly reminded about how amazingly progressive of a time it was. Me and Gus were living in a small 2 bedroom house in Pasadena that--roughly a year prior--we were (luckily) accepted to live in after being denied by countless other apartments. Around this time was when he began to meet in person all the people Gus had collaborated with and met over the Internet while in New York. As peers would come over and be introduced to Gus’s unparalleled workflow, they would eventually end up staying for good. The only deciding factor was if there was room on the floor to sleep for just a few hours at night in between work sessions. At one point there were ten-plus people living there--on and off--including Ghoste, Tracy, Craig, and many more. We both knew the potential everyone’s music had so we figured, why not bring everyone together? At the time I was still a college student attending Glendale Community College. That being the case, I was blessed with a very unique perspective on the greatness that was happening right in front of my eyes. Every day I would be the first one awake to attend my early classes. I would spend the day at school and would return home in the evening to a creative powerhouse. I would hear songs being started as I would go to sleep, and when I would return home from school the next day, that song and five others would be finished. At this time Gus had just formed the vision for his project “Crybaby,” and once he tattooed it across his face we knew he wasn’t playing games. Whether it was music being recorded, videos being shot, or just an exchange of all our favorite music and influences, there was constantly an artistic ambiance. Gus had such a strong drive and such a clear vision and his ambition was infectious. Anyone who would come around knew exactly where the movement was headed and the greatness that he and his peers were destined for. He made everyone around him want to work harder and shoot for the stars. He pushed his friends to make the best art they could make and also influenced people, including me, to start making music and build a career. Gus’s selflessness and originality is what brought so many people together and built lifelong friendships. I am eternally grateful for the memories we created together and I’ll cherish them forever.
Quinn Donovan (friend from Long Beach, NY)
May 2016 I remember this summer Gus had come back home once again after months of pursuing music in Los Angeles, CA. This was around the time he was in the process of working on Crybaby.
This trip he had brought his mic and asked me to borrow my mic stand and pop filter, so we ended up at Tyler's house ( a good friend of ours who lived one town over in Island Park, NY). I forget why, but Gus insisted he record in Tyler's room--probably a nice change of scenery. His house was right on the water and Tyler's Dad was in California during the time so we had parties some nights. But the funniest part was Tyler got kinda moved out of his own room into the guest room where he moved his Xbox to play Gears of War--meanwhile Gus was in Tyler's room recording "Crybaby." Gus had set up his microphone and stuff in Tyler's room and I had lent him the pop filter to use but, taking his laptop back and forth, I’m sure he mixed the songs back and forth--between Tyler's and his own house.
I remember Gus asking me and Tyler which song should be used for the final album Big City Blues or Me and You--I don't know if that was the final name--and showed us both songs and asked which one he should pick. Eventually down the line, I fixed Cold Hart's old laptop in Los Angeles and that song was recovered and on the laptop--the song Me and You. If only both of us knew what those songs were going to be someday. History was literally being made right before our eyes. Songs such as Teen Romance, and Big City Blues were recorded and written in Tyler's Room I remember the lyrics he had written on a tissue. This was a great time--my birthday was May 7th--and to get to see my friend again and listen to everything he was doing and accomplishing always made me so happy for him. I always knew Gus was special, but to know the impact he had on the world today makes you think back to days like this and think I was witnessing History right before my eyes.
Craig Xen (housemate, collaborator, friend)
In the beginning there were 4 of us - Brennan, Adventure, Gus, and I. Within The span of 12 months, 1700 University Dr had become the creative hub for the majority of our co-creators we met online. Somehow, 10+ of us managed to live in (near) harmony, in and out of the house, sleeping wherever there was room once all of the creative juice wore out for the day.
Gus was always so welcoming in his interactions and made friends with so many of us from all different socioeconomic backgrounds. He had a way of bringing people together at Brennan’s and creating a space where everyone was comfortable to be and to express themselves.
He loved to share music and ideas with us regardless of how popular his favorite artist at the time was. He was never concerned with what the rest of the world thought was cool - but rather what was special to him and all of us in the house.
I remember sitting next to each other on the couch in the living room when he pulled up “Red Hot Chili Peppers Live Performance At Woodstock” on youtube - as he smiled and expressed how he was going to one day perform to a sea of fans as they were.
After that he wanted me to share some music with him, and I played “DJ SCREW - Wineberry Over Gold (Side A & B)”. The album was about two hours long, and we both fell asleep on the couch with it playing in the background.
I’ll always remember sharing the high of experiencing and appreciating each other’s creative influences. He had a way of finding the beauty in all art (including gas station trucker hats)!
JGrxxn (Schemaposse collaborator, producer, friend, housemate)
At first times was good. It was artist making tracks and collaborating together. From shooting videos on roof tops to recording in closets and garages we was getting work done. It's how the track homecoming came about. Then more people came so it was crowded even to a point when someone took a animal sized shit in the backyard.