A Word about creation dates for Gus's songs
We know that Gus deleted the garage band (original) versions of many of his first songs, so for those songs all we have are the bounces. As he developed fluency with the equipment and his process, he “bounced” a song pretty much as soon as he composed it. But, in the beginning, he likely did not. We know this because we can hear him playing a song on his iPhone fully one month before our first documented record of the song on his computer—the “bounce.”
Feelz must have been completed in April as the footage for the video was shot April 15 and you can hear Gus playing the song on the phone.
Life, too, was written before April 19, as the footage was shot April 19 and you can hear the song playing on Gus’s phone.
The lyrics for Toxic City are below.
Gus came home permanently from 1700 University Drive, arriving at 6:00 am on Feb 1, 2015. Superbowl Sunday. It was wonderful to have him back.
Two weeks later, I was on break from school for President’s Week. We discussed school. I REALLY wanted him to go to school, so by Thursday of that week, February 19, Gus had signed a request to Glendale Community College--where he had taken a class in Pasadena--to send his transcript to Nassau Community College to register for classes back in New York. He wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do at NCC. But he agreed to go up to NCC with me—if I bought him McDonalds for lunch.
On March 18, Gus ordered his mic from Guitar Center. It came in the mail. He had no mic until that time. It was time to get Gus the equipment he needed in order to really take his music seriously. This was what he wanted to devote his time and energy to.
It was right around that time that Gus and I went to the Best Buy in Baldwin, NY (the closest one to Long Beach) and he picked out his red headphones. He wanted “beats” so that was what we got. All he asked for were these two pieces of equipment. He already had the MacBook pro which I had handed down to him in January, 2014—for his high school graduation present. (I had bought that laptop two years earlier. It was on that laptop that he made all of his music until he was moved to England in the spring of 2017.)
During those winter weeks, I realized Gus could not see well at all—long distance—so I took him to the optometrist where he selected and ordered Prada glasses at Plaza Optical in Oceanside on March 26, 2015. I told him to pick whatever he wanted, since his father had to pay half. He picked beautiful green Prada glasses frames which he later wore when shooting the footage for Life.
Pretty soon after, Gus began making and recording music. He decided he needed videos to go with his music. He showed me how Mac Miller had done this kind of work all by himself—uploading his own music videos to YouTube. Gus was VERY excited about SoundCloud. So, he got his friend, Will Silberfeld, to use his camera to shoot music videos.
Gus wore his big brother’s shirt and golf visor when he and Will created the footage for Feelz on April 15, at 34 East Walnut Street. They shot that footage in our living room, back yard, Oskar’s bedroom, and on the stairs down into our basement. I stored food on the shelves there, and Gus found some marshmallows—which I had bought for him. I guess he decided to eat a few while they shot the footage there. You can see Gus was beginning to become interested in wearing pink. Oskar had a pink button-down shirt which Gus wore for a while during that spring, also.
Four days later, on April 19, Gus and Will worked together to shoot the footage for Life in our garage at 34 East Walnut Street. Gus loved small Christmas lights so he had decorated the garage with them. In his bedroom, he had hung small white Christmas lights permanently. They were on all the time—including at night. By the time Gus and will were shooting the video, Gus had his new Prada glasses.
Gus, in our garage.
Gus must have been working on some other ideas, as evidenced by this album art for “Canopy” created on April 15, 2015, which I found in his email.
Gus went with his friend Ian to visit Angelo and Sam at Binghamton for a couple of days. He came back telling me about fraternities and this basement where people who were pledging had to stay for long periods of time.
Here is a photo taken from that visit on April 25, 2015 at Binghamton University.
Will was taking courses at NCC to get a certificate or degree in audio engineering. He told Gus about the program. We went up to Nassau and Gus signed up for courses to get a Studio Recording Technician certificate. He figured that would teach him more about what he wanted to learn so he could make his own music. Below is the list of classes Gus signed up for on May 12, 2015.
It turned out later that Gus did not want to take these courses. He had decided not to pursue the certificate and focus on making his own music in his own bedroom instead. He had decided that the red beats headphones and the mic were enough—along with my old MacBook Pro from 2012.
Gus was pleased with what he was able to accomplish on his own, and decided to release Feelz in May, 2015 via his own SoundCloud account and via BandCamp. He showed me how BandCamp worked, and so I bought Feelz on BandCamp. I think I paid him a donation of $10.00 because that was how BandCamp worked. It was free, but you could make a donation to the artist.
Feelz was the first release Gus uploaded for the public--and kept uploaded for anyone to listen to. It was the first music he made at home in Long Beach. Feelz represents the beginning of Gus’s commitment to writing lyrics and making songs full time.
2015 was a great year for me and Gus’ friends ship. In early 2015 I traveled to Pasadena with 2 of my friends Sam and fat bags to go and visit Gus in the house he was living in on university drive. When we arrived in California i was overwhelmed by the weed there, for it was my first time in a place where it was legal. I remember sitting in the parking lot while our friend Garrett went in to get us some of the best weed we had ever smoked. That trip we smoked a lot of weed and had a lot of fun doing it. One wild thing we did was drive up into the mountains near Gus’ house to get some cool views of the city. There was a weather station or something toward the top and it intrigued us. We took garrets very old and not so reliable car up to the very top! When we reached the top we were surprised by a odd noise coming from the vehicle. Then the vehicle quickly came to an abrupt stop. We tried to turn the car around as quickly as we could but there was no hope. The car had died completely blocking the road, about an hour from Gus house and on the top of a mountain lol. Next thing we know there was a caravan of vehicles coming toward us. When they approached a group of men quickly exited the van and helped us push our car to safety. I must admit the view was quite beautiful while we waited for the tow truck to arrive. When it did arrive we rode in the car on top of the tow truck because there was no room for us in the cab. We nervously smoked our weed on the way down until we reached Gus’ house. When we got back we invited the tow truck driver in to take some dabs and he did.
Not long after our visit Gus ended up moving back to New York. I was happy about it because I got to spend lots of time hanging with Gus like we had done before. I was working at the Long Beach ice arena. I would get off work and call Gus immediately to hang out. 9 times out of 10 I’d end up hanging with him and a couple other friends until late at night. Gus was just starting to realize that his music was cool as fuck and we all loved it. We listened to Gus’s music all day long. And he would work hard recording until the wee hours of the morning almost every day. At this point he had only bought very basic equipment to record with, but he was a genius with the tools he had. A great craftsman never blames his tools, and Gus was forming masterpieces from his budget mic and recording set up that he had positioned in his closet.
As I look through some pictures from 2015 this one with our friend James kinda sticks out. Gus and James are standing in a wide stance, holding their hands up with “cool“ gestures. I honestly remember that picture being a bit of a troll. Gus was becoming a successful artist and we were kind of making fun of the moment. James and Gus were supposed to look like 2 “SoundCloud rappers.” I remember laughing at that photo because we kind of made fun of the current aesthetic of the SoundCloud scene. We loved that music scene. We spent nearly our entire days studying it. But we couldn’t help but to troll on just about everything we ever did.
Gus and James at James’s house in Point Lookout, New York. May 14, 2015. Gus is wearing the white studded belt he had me buy for him at Hot Topic in the Roosevelt Field Mall. He loved that special belt.
This time-period, I think, helped Gus realize that there was something real here, something magical in the works, and that making music was something that he enjoyed very much and helped him release some emotions that we often ignored on a daily basis. I look back at this time-period and I’m so very grateful for it. We may have had our own problems but when we were together, we were so happy just making fun of each other and just about everything else.
Thinking back to 2015 I can’t help but to smile. A teenage Dana was running around Long beach juggling making money as a waitress at a local sports bar and starting her apprenticeship as a tattoo artist. During the spring months a whole gang of us were coming home/dropping out of our first year of college. We were happy to see each other and catch up. It was like we never left.
One of our favorite spots to hang was Gus’s house, knowing there would Liza’s fresh baked cookies. It was like a safe haven for us--yeah we all made fun of each other here and there but it was all out of love. No one judged each other for all the stupid shit we did or all the “impossible” dreams we held, and we were all just so free to be ourselves. This space, these friends, are part of what gave me the courage to pursue my own artistic dream and I believe it did the same for Gus.
One night, in early summer 2015. I was getting off waitressing at a sports bar around the block from Gus’s and just like basically every other night I walked on over (with possibly 20-50 wings for the gang). We were all hanging out in Oskar’s room--we did that when we couldn’t all fit in Gus’s because it had a bit more space. We were all just chillin out when Gus turned to me and asked if I had seen his new music video. Now at this time, this is basically Gus’s ONLY music video. Lil peep wasn’t a thing. He had nothing up on SoundCloud, so to me this was just a fun video the guys decide to make to fuck around in their free time. Of course, I wanted to see it. Gus prepped the video before it started. “It’s funny” he said, you know so I’d know it was joke. Preparing to see some hilarious footage of my guy friends being ridiculous, Gus pressed played and we all turned to watch it. I was the only one seeing it for the first time in the room, as I got off work pretty late.
As I watched the colorful video, Gus in sunglasses and layered outfits, I started cheesing cheek to cheek. I remember thinking “this is so goooooood” and not in a joking funny way but like this damn this is good. I turned to my best friend Emma, who was dating Gus at the time, and I just started crying. It just all felt so real. I didn’t know it then but I felt something big happening.
Once the video was over, Gus asked me what I thought. He saw I was crying and started laughing. “Why are you crying hahaha?!” I was now also laughing because I wasn’t sure how to explain why it made me cry. I told him how I thought it was genuinely so good and I loved it. I don’t know what it was, but I was just so overwhelmed with the amount of love I was feeling from the song, for my best friends being in love, for our sweet little community of degenerates just trying to figure it out. It was a moment of “Wow, I’m grateful for this.”
I will always cherish that spring/summer so deeply, it was transformative, and I am so grateful for it. Feelz and all the 2015 absolute bangers that Gus made are treasures for this universe and I’m honored to have been in the same world they were born out of.
July 20, 2015. Dana paints a mural on our side of the neighbor’s wall. Angelo and Gus are in the foreground.
I remember listening to Feelz over and over again with people in our friend group. Me, Quinn, Ian and a few others had always gone to Gus's house after school and on the weekend to hangout. We wouldn’t do much, we kind of just sat there killing time, listening too much and hanging out. Now, whenever we were there, Gus was always, and i mean ALWAYS listening to Dylan Ross, who was known as Rozz Dyliams back then. That was Gus's favorite artist around the time. After listening to the same few Dylan Ross songs--Woodward, Treatly, Two Bad Mice, Gale Force Beach, and EVEN MORE SONGS--over and over again we would have had enough and would ask Gus to let us plug our phone into the speaker or ask him to switch the music up. He was extremely stubborn about it and would give us a very direct "no," no matter how much we asked and begged Lol. Gus was the one to show us Dylan Ross and other SoundCloud artist like Bones, Spooky black, Bobby raps. We were all listening to main stream rap at the time( Meek mill [which he also showed me in 2012; “Y’all don’t hear me though,” “Moment for life freestyle”]) which is why Dylan Ross's sound was so strange when he first showed it to us. (Eventually it grew on us.) It just goes to show you how many different people Gus was inspired by. He took a little bit out of every artist that he STUDIED. And that’s the perfect word for it. He didn’t just listen to music for pleasure but he took notes every time he listened to music.
So, when Gus dropped Feelz I remember thinking it had the same sound Dylan Ross had.
It caught everyone by surprise because it was good. The sound was strange to us at first, but we all knew where the influence came from. Now that I look back at it, the genius in his lyrics are unbelievable to hear from a kid who was 18 years old at the time [“Its like Palestine up in my mind, a deadly war-zone”]. Feelz had the sound of underground SoundCloud music, but the proficiency in lyricism and rhyme schemes he displayed in it was heavily influenced by very talented underground rap artists.
Gus sits next to Angelo and across from Ian on July 4, 2015. This is the little back yard in which Gus and Will shot footage for Feelz.
I met Gus through a mutual friend of ours named James. James and Gus were a year behind me in school. Gus lived in long beach, 5 miles from where James and I lived in Point Lookout. I always had a hard time making friends, probably because my interests were in music while most kids my age preferred sports, so in Gus I found a kindred spirit. He was one of the rare few in the area that was as passionate about music as I was. Although Gus’ music taste was vastly different than mine, I still could appreciate what it did for him. I developed my musical tastes from the guitar, while Gus’s interests were always in being a vocalist. We did have overlapping tastes in Rap and various rock genres; however, I didn’t share the same enthusiasm Gus had for the then budding genre of Soundcloud Rap. He would blast music from $uicide Boys, Yung Lean, Slug Chrxst, and especially Rozz Dyliams (Dylan Ross). Despite my disinterest in that style of music, I knew that to Gus it was his chosen medium to express himself, and I respected that. It was cathartic for him. Gus was never one to share much emotion in conversation, but he told you exactly how he felt in his music. I always loved that about him.
At the time I was going to school at Nassau Community College for Studio Recording techniques, a great program for anybody interested in learning how to record properly. I told him what I was doing, and he showed interest. Until then Gus had been recording in his closet. I remember when he showed the homies a freestyle he did under the name Trap Goose, and we all thought he was a beast. the quality of his vocals improved greatly. He started a SoundCloud page and began his plot to take over. He was a genius in this regard, he saw a flourishing underground music scene with no barrier for entry, and he pounced on it. He would reach out to artists in the Genre like Boy Froot, who had slightly larger audiences than him, releasing collaborative mixtapes where his vocal recording significantly outshined the other performers. So when the fans of his collaborators heard the songs, they’d say something like ‘oh goddamn, who is this Lil Peep Shawty with the golden pipes’? He did this a few times and started getting a serious buzz going on Soundcloud. Within a few months he was working with the very artists he admired so much. It was incredible to watch him manifest his dreams. So, I’d always cut out to go hangout with Gus, because it was fun to watch him work. Plus, he did little to nothing other than make music, so I would bring him plates of food from a local Latin American Deli called Los Latinos to keep him alive. I would also give him weed cuz I knew it helped his creative process. I was always trying to get him to go outside and get some sun.
Once Gus mentioned he wanted to start making videos, I offered to shoot them, despite having no skills in videography. I had a decent DSLR camera, and that’s really all he needed. We did shot videos at his house, we drove out to Jones Beach on a foggy day and shot in an empty parking lot, we went to Island Park and broke into an abandoned motel to shoot footage there as well. We did a lot of stuff I have trouble remembering because we were always very stoned. What I can remember is that Gus was such an inspiration to me. He worked unapologetically toward his goals--despite most everybody telling him he was nuts. I remember when he got his first face tattoo, everybody was losing their shit. “What happens when the music doesn’t work out? How will you get a job with a face tattoo?” or something along those lines. I told him something like ‘it’s all or nothing now kid.’ He saw a future that nobody else could. He was a visionary.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing straight to the top. I had interned at a smaller studio called the Music Farm and had suggested he book time to record vocals. I thought if he had an engineer to hit the record button, it would smooth out his process. Plus, they had a bunch of mics and equipment he could use. So, he booked time, and we showed up. Unfortunately for us, the owner of the studio was tripping balls on mushrooms. He was extremely distracted and unprofessional. We got no work done, and he still insisted on charging Gus money. I felt really bad about the whole thing. Gus wasted his money and got nothing out of him. I tried to get the money back from the guy, but he claimed that we got what we paid for. What a scumbag. Mike was his name. Fuck Mike and his shitty Music Farm. Gus was upset, mostly about the wasted money, but this didn’t deter him from pursuing his goals. Failures never discouraged him. In fact, it caused him to double down on his own recording process.
I always felt Gus would be able to make his way through life with music, but I never imagined for him to be an international star, and so fast. I remember when he released
‘Beamer Boy’, that was a turning point for him. And, just over a year later, all the people who criticized his decision for a face tattoo, who thought his music was weird, and laughed at his expense were now begging me to get them backstage at his show at Webster hall. Suddenly everybody wanted a piece of Lil Peep, and I think that made him very suspicious of people. I imagine it was hard to tell his real friends from people who just wanted to ride his coat tails.
So I’d like to take a second to acknowledge all the homies who were his friends from the start, before the fame, before he decided to make music, and who shared the same love I have for the dude. James, Angelo, Carmelo, Ian, Quinn, Skylar, Fatbags, Sam, Rochie, and Eddy.
Gus wouldn’t often leave his room, but he would go to Fatbags’ house in Point Lookout.
Once Gus started touring internationally, I fell out of touch with him. He seemed impossible to reach, and his old number no longer worked. At the time I was studying at Berklee in Boston, he was on what would be his last tour. I saw that he would performing at the Middle East, not very far from where I was living at the time. I couldn’t get in touch with him, and I was missing my friend. So I decided to buy a ticket and go to the show by myself. I sat in the back, and I watched him perform like a rockstar to crowd of adoring teenagers. After the show ended, I found who appeared to be somebody on his team, and told her who I was and that I wanted to see him. She went and told him, and he invited me on the tour bus. I walked onto the bus and was greeted by my friend who I hadn’t seen in 2 years. I was so proud of all that he accomplished. I was honored to call him my friend. He was smiling and laughing. I didn’t know at the time it would be our last time sharing a laugh. Two weeks later I saw the news that he passed. Since then, not a day has gone by that I hadn’t thought of him.
Gus inspired so many people, including myself. He showed me that being true to yourself and what you want in life is the most rewarding way to live. He was unapologetic in his style, he never asked permission, and he always did exactly what he said he would. Gus, I wish I had the chance to tell you these things. You will live forever in my heart, and in the hearts of all the people that loved you.
Will, shot by Gus, takes five in Gus's bedroom on April 15, 2015.
I remember when someone told Gus (I think it was Erin Alton or Rochie) that the lifeguards were starting to listen to Feelz, that made him laugh--all those preppy kids were now listening to his music. I think they thought the song was weird and funny but still so good they had to keep putting it on. I remember him showing me this song, it was one of the first songs he’d written about me (or at least showed me) it was kinda creepy just like he says but so sweet at the same time. The more he came out with these love songs the more and more I fell in love with him :,) It was this way he could reciprocate what my young brain was feeling about him into these songs and it just made me feel like I knew 100% he loved me back--ya no? And this was just the beginning of that the most exciting time, the first one.
Emma and Gus riding back to Long Island from Cambridge on the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry, July 16, 2015