Gus was feeling good when he released Live Forever. He dropped the mixtape just before midnight on December 2, 2015--pretty soon after Thanksgiving.
For Thanksgiving, he, Taz, and I had driven up alone to Cambridge because Oskar was in Denmark for that fall. I remember a friend of mine calling in the car when we had just passed New Haven and were heading up 91N towards Hartford. She sang well but had a day job. Because I was driving we spoke on speaker phone and I told her Gus was in the back seat. (Gus liked to sit in the back seat when we took long trips because he was tall and could stretch out and Taz was back there.) I remember telling my friend something about how Gus was doing really well with his music—something to do with SoundCloud, I think. She congratulated him, and he thanked her bashfully. I remember looking at him in the rear-view mirror. Gus was wearing a black hoody and those black and white paisley sweatpants. He wore those same clothes the whole time we were in Cambridge. Several months later, the paisley pants showed up in video footage worn by some other boy in Denver. Gus was notorious for trading his clothes.
In the car on the way up and back, and while we were in Cambridge, Gus excitedly told me all about what was going on with Schemaposse, Jay Grxxn, Ghostemane, and Craig Xen. He had just paid for a beat from the $uicide Boys which he was very proud of. Star Shopping---created on August 16--was becoming popular on SoundCloud. Gus was excited about that. On November 13, he even took a picture of how many plays it had—over 66,000.
All that fall, the fall of 2015, he was very busy and productive creating songs and videos. He made Mall Musicc with Boy Froot and that was a LOT of songs. He and Emma shot the footage for “Nothing to U” in our basement on October 8th.
On October 16, someone had taken a bunch of photos of Gus smoking a blunt on our back porch. It was one of those photos Gus selected to send to Chase Matheson to create the album art for Live Forever.
And, confident in his ability to make a living without an office job, Gus got his first face tattoo. He was enjoying it in this October 21, 2015 photo, below:
That fall he and Willie G (the producer of Nuts, and several other songs Gus made with such collaborators as Boy Froot, Omen XIII, and Lil Skil) corresponded via Twitter direct message. Part of their messages are here below.
Oddly enough, in December, after releasing Live Forever, Gus asked him if he would sample “Climbing the Walls” by Radiohead.
It turned out that Gus had asked the producer Fleance earlier that month for a sample of “Climbing the Walls.” Fleance sampled that Radiohead song for “Pick Me Up,” track #3.
Gus and producer Hector Vae had been messaging since late October, planning to create two songs together for release later in the fall.
And Gus and Kryptik had been working together since the summer. Below are some of their first SoundCloud messages:
By the fall, they congratulated each other on their teamwork:
Gus finished "haunt u" and sent it back to Mystikphonk on November 13:
It was during the month of November 2015 that Gus began getting significant public recognition for his work. He began to save screenshots of tweets and messages like this one from November 11:
And this one, from November 25:
And this one from November 30:
By this time, Gus had set up his Big Cartel account so he could sell his Lil Peep skeleton t-shirts. He tweeted about his new shirts on November 14.
On November 18, he took a picture of himself wearing one of his new shirts.
By November 19, Gus had even been reviewed on Tumblr. He saved that with a screenshot:
By Thanksgiving, on November 26, Gus had his Live Forever track list partially set up in his Notes app. He had not yet renamed track 4, which would later be titled “nuts.” And he was still missing “vibe,” “live forever,” “2008,” and “give u the moon.”
During that Thanksgiving break in Cambridge in 2015, he spent time with me and his grandparents. When he wasn’t with us he was texting on the phone with his collaborators.
Thanksgiving night, Emma texted Gus this photo from her house in Lido Beach:
The next morning, my dad, Gus, and I walked over to Tommy’s convenience store to get the newspapers and a chocolate croissant. I took a couple of pictures when my father and Gus weren’t looking.
That night, Gus and Paulie LeParik messaged each other on Twitter. They discussed the beat for what would turn out to be “vibe,” track #6 on Live Forever.
Almost at the same time, Nick Brobak contacted Gus via Twitter DM:
We drove home Saturday after Thanksgiving. I went back to work on Monday, and so did Gus. He tweeted this:
That night, just past midnight, he sent Paulie the finished song, “vibe.”
Gus got it done. He announced his new mixtape 24 hours later just before midnight on December 1.
Officially, Gus released Live Forever at just before midnight of Wednesday, December 2, four days after our return from Cambridge.
By this time, Gus had figured out how releasing music went: you had album art, you made a video for one or two of your songs, you planned out your track list, you tweeted and announced the release on Instagram, and then you sat back to see how many people would listen to your music, and what sort of comments they made on your SoundCloud account.
Gus and Emma made two videos that fall. They made the video for “nothing to u” in the basement of our apartment at 34 East Walnut Street. I remember coming home from work after they had been making the “nothing to u” video in the basement, going down to do some laundry, and finding a pentagram drawn on the basement floor—drawn with some of the stubs of kid’s chalk I had. I think I noticed the big animal skull had been moved from its prior location in the basement. It wasn’t ours, and I had assumed it belonged to the landlord, so I asked Gus what had happened in the basement. He told me that they had been making a video for one of his songs and that he had wanted to make it seem really spooky and make people think of witchcraft and the supernatural. What I did not know until I saw the video later was that they had also borrowed my special candle holders to place on the corners of the pentagram. Gus did not hold back when he needed to borrow something from either me or Oskar. He just took it and used it—the way he used Oskar’s preppy patchwork shirt shirt and golf visor in “Feelz.”
They made the video for the song “Live Forever” on December 2, at the beach, near Emma’s house.
“Live Forever” was my favorite song of Gus’s for a very long time. I could feel the strength in that song. It seemed to me a sign of Gus’s growing self-confidence.
Gus made Live Forever (and the 18-track Mall Musicc) while enrolled in four on-line courses at Nassau Community College. Here is a photo he snapped on November 11, 2015 to keep track of his assignments:
He juggled all of that, and got three As and a B, while making music without any label, management, or anything—just working with his friends and collaborators.
It seemed to me that making and releasing Live Forever was the culmination of a good year for Gus.
Gus's producers recently reflected on making music with Gus in 2015.
Gus is representative of a specific time in music. A time where things weren’t revolving around a payday or a deal. We just made music to make music. I reached out to Gus through SoundCloud in 2015 and we spent hours messaging and emailing back and forth about possible projects or song ideas. Nowadays you’re lucky to get a reply from an artist. Gus was one of the good ones. We all knew it. I think he knew it, too. But, he wasn’t the type to go “Hollywood” on anyone.
My first interaction with Gus was when he purchased a beat off my traktrain, he was just another random person I had no information about other than their email. One day on SoundCloud a song of his came on and I really enjoyed it, not even knowing he had listened to/bought my beats. A little later on I got a message from him, said he had heard my work with other rappers and I was one of his favorite producers. He sent what he made and I was blown away by hearing what he recorded to my beat, after that I told him he no longer needed to pay, I just wanted to make as much music with him as possible. From then on he would message me whenever I released something he wanted to use, send ideas for samples and I would send him packs of unreleased stuff occasionally. His choice and range of collaborators and musical influences was always one of my favorite things about him. As time went on we stopped talking as much and I watched him grow and grow into the person that connected to the world in a way I had never seen before. I’ve been so incredibly grateful to be a part of his story.
Peep & I met because one of my friends back in 2015 showed me his song “Star Shopping” & I thought it was amazing. At the time, I had been producing for under a year or so and I really wanted to make songs with him, so I messaged him my number, he texted me and then I started sending him beats. I used to send him beats 1 by 1 and he’d send the songs back, usually within a day or 2. It was a quick turnaround and the songs were perfect every time. I think we made around 4-5 songs together in the span of a few months. I would put in a lot of time & effort into the beats I made for him because I wanted to bring the best out of both of us. At the time, we were both young and just making stuff but looking back, it was such a blessing to have the opportunity to call him a friend and create alongside such a passionate and genuine person like Peep. I hope the world continues to discover his art I think everyone needs to hear it ❤️
I don’t remember exactly where or when I first heard peeps music, but I really liked it a lot. It might have been the mixtape he did with another great producer named John Mello. I remember immediately realizing how good he was, and could tell he had a lot of potential, but I never expected it to become this big. I reached out to Peep to see if he wanted beats, and he was enthusiastic about it so I sent the beats for Live Forever and Gym class shortly after. We were both pretty excited about the Live Forever song/video, and I loved that whole mixtape. I am so grateful to have had the chance to make beautiful music with someone as talented as peep that has reached so many people. Thank you for listening
Pick Me Up Oct.13th 2015
This was around the time Gus and I really started to engage in collaborative efforts.
We both discovered each other's music online, and quickly grew an admiration for each other as a result.
"lil peep yung goth playboy mansion exclusive footage.mp3" was the original file name that was sent to me before it was later on titled “Pick Me Up” for his timeless project rightfully named Live Forever.
This collaboration and the ones prior--“On the Floor,” and “Fishscale”--were all made before we had a chance to meet in person. Even then, it feels like our connection was never amiss, it is as if we were right next to each other recording our verses.
When writing my verse I wanted to embody an obsession where it would lead you to wanting a permanent impression on your person. I sampled Jeffery Dahmer in the middle of the track during one of his interviews about his cannibalistic tendencies
“It felt like they were a permanent part of me beside the just mere curiosity of what it would be like.”
I thought it was fitting for the general mood of the song. Gus loved the idea and thought it played well with the music.
As a young aspiring artist I feel like it is only natural to be self conscious of your work and I was no different. Luckily Gus was there to encourage my creativity even when I doubted myself, I urged him to let me re-record my verse but he quickly shot down my requests and responded with that it was perfect how it was.
I’m happy for whatever reason that brought us together, I’m also happy to be part of something as legendary as Live Forever.
Rest in Power..
Working with Gus changed my life. I live in Nashville TN, and was making music on the side and serving tables to pay the bills. I had been making EDM since 2010 but then started making beats in 2015. Someone reposted ‘praying to the sky (prod. Greaf)’ and I loved it. Gus only had 79 followers at that time. I commented “you’re gunna blow up” and he hit me up saying let’s work. So I made the Star Shopping beat in 20 minutes and sent it. Gus finished his part in less than 30 minutes. It just blew up from there. ‘Give You the Moon’ was the last song we made but by far one of my favorites with him. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to meet Gus in person, being out in Nashville, but I’m lucky to have been part of something with a legend that will live on forever.
In October 2015, I was on my laptop one late night listening to my SoundCloud suggestions on shuffle, and “veins” followed by “praying to the sky” had begun to play. I remember sitting there listening like Woah this is dope I mean the vibe, the beat, the voice, the lyrics it all just flowed like nothing I had heard before. As I continued listening to both songs, I had begun to feel a sense of relief from the lyrics being eerily similar to how I felt at that time with everything that was going on in my own life. For the first time in a long time, I was able to relate my problems to someone else. But more importantly, I was reminded that I was not alone and that there are other people who feel the same way I do at times.
After those songs, I was hooked and decided to check out more music from Lil Peeps SoundCloud which then led me to his next song “Star Shopping”. This song specifically word for word truly expressed how I felt and who I was at that time. I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. That song stayed on repeat that entire night. The next morning, I decided to reach out to Lil Peep on Instagram with the intention of both complimenting and admiring his music, but also offering my design services if ever interested. Shortly after sending my message, Lil Peep commented on one of my Instagram posts, stating to make him cover art. From there we became friends, and Gus asked me to create the Star Shopping cover.
On October 25th just a week after finishing the Star Shopping cover, Gus had reached out to me saying, “Hey Bro!!! I have a project for u ! I need artwork for my first solo mixtape but it’s going to be something u might not be used to. I need a haunted house with me smoking on the steps in front of it… U don’t need to show my face. Is this possible??? Just make sure u blunt a blunt in my mouth with smoke coming off of it haha” (Lil Peep 2015). After discussing a bit more about the details, Gus mentioned: “But yeah I’m hype for this artwork it’s dropping I’d like to have it asap cus for some reason cover art helps me write music” (Lil Peep 2015).
For the next three days, I spent all my free time designing in photoshop, with the goal of capturing the vision that Gus had wanted. It truly felt like he already knew exactly what he wanted, he just needed someone to help turn his ideas into artwork, and that someone was going to be me, I was sure of it. Because I was able to relate to Gus through his music so much, I strongly felt that I could design what he wanted to portray when it came to the style, aesthetics, and overall theme of the cover. After showing Gus the rough draft, a few final adjustments such as more flying bats and black fingernails were added, and the artwork that would become the Live Forever cover was finished. Shortly after, Gus mentioned “Bro this is literally the most beautiful art anyone has ever done for me I can’t thank u enough. And the support means so much to me bro I can’t put it into words” (Lil Peep 2015).
On December 2nd, 2015, Gus released his Live Forever mixtape to the world. Here is a screenshot showing how he posted the album art and the photo reference for it.
Fun Fact: Two weeks after finishing the Live Forever cover, Gus had reached out with another request to carve the words ‘ROMEO’S REGRETS’ into a coffin on a picture that he had provided. The picture that he provided was a screenshot from a popular old-school game called RuneScape which I had also grown up playing since a little kid, which made it surreal that both of us were also big RuneScape fanatics.
Rest In Peace, Gus
Chase Matheson | @ArtbyChase
I remember that i was in the shower using twitter n Gus was like bro ur not on my tape yet lets get one in and showed me a screenshot of the track list with a couple empty spots on it so ofc i get out the shower fast af n hit my computer haha
Back in the day me n my prod friends would share playlists with songs we could sample, i went thru one that i got from prod. captain crunch I'm pretty sure and started makin the beat for Vibe.
I wanted everything to sound fuller coz it was going to b for Gus's tape so i added the piano melody over the guitar sample n it just sounded right .
I remember exactly where I was one Gus sent me his live forever album completed. I was walking to the train station from forest hills queens where I was staying some weekdays because of a nannying job, The other days I was mostly at his house with him, Liza ,and Taz. I knew the second I heard it something crazy was about to happen. It was way too good not to. I called him up right after I listened and told him how fucking good it was. He was in one of his silly goofy moods and and started immediately making fun of how I said it, laughing at me. I miss the way he joked about everything. He made everything seem so light hearted. I guess he let out all the heaviness in his music.
This is my favorite album of Gus’s. Every song made me feel something, every song made me tear up even then. I can hardly listen to it now. But when I do muster up the courage to hear his voice this is the first album I put on. It’s like I feel him right there next to me. That’s how this album was made raw, emotional and almost eerie. And when you listen it feels like he’s singing it to you himself. Especially 'haunt u.' he used to always tell me he’d haunt me if he died.