awfultune’s new EP, Dear Sarah—out today via Amuse—captures the highs and lows of a promising but fizzled fling in just under ten minutes. For Layla Eden—the New York state bedroom pop artist who’s been using the awfultune moniker since 2016—it’s a natural extension of her hit 2019 single, “I Met Sarah in the Bathroom,” which has already racked up over 30 million streams on Spotify alone.
“My friend Sarah and I came up with the concept and artwork together for ‘I Met Sarah in the Bathroom,’” Eden tells American Songwriter over email, referring to the EP’s cautiously hopeful opening number.
“While the person I refer to as ‘Sarah’ in my songs was based on this friend,” explains Eden, “‘Sarah’ ultimately becomes an alter-ego and the person I worked through a lot of pain to be—someone I admired and respected. With everything I write though I try to take it in a literal sense and also a metaphorical sense. From there, I can seemingly tell a story that my listeners can take literally and enjoy and still keep things pretty fun and entertaining for myself. Ultimately, everyone always wanted a continuation for ‘I Met Sarah in the Bathroom,’ so this EP is just that.”
If “I Met Sarah in the Bathroom” captures the raw thrills of a budding, unexpected romance, then “Dear Sarah” captures the raw disappointments that followed. Two voicemail interludes—”00:49” and “error 30004”—help the story progress and give the EP an intimate, lo-fi feel. This vulnerability has long been a feature of awfultune’s music, both sonically and lyrically.
“[My] influences definitely range from Melanie Martinez, Billie Eilish, and Clairo, just badass empowered women,” says Eden. “Overall though, I’ve really been trying to go back into more of an acoustic sound! I played around with that in my music last year a bit. The EP has elements of my new sound in it though. It’s really a mix of everything.”
Dear Sarah comes on the heels of awfultune’s fifth and latest album, layla, which followed 2019’s Unreleased Demos, 21, and michael, as well as 2018’s Peace and Quiet. Since she started releasing music as awfultune, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter has been open about her transition on social media: “i go under the knife in 20 mins so yall have 20 mins to delete the old version of me in your head,” she wrote in an Instagram post earlier this month.
Beyond prepping her new EP, Eden has spent the last few months lining up new collaborations. “[I’ve] been hard at work,” she says. “It’s been really fun putting visuals together. I’ve been working with different artists on some stuff for the project too.”
So what’s next for the rising bedroom pop talent? “After Dear Sarah you guys will finally get to hear my new baby,” Eden teases. “I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever made.”
Dear Sarah is out now via Amuse.