tulsa, OK | july 2017
The Tulsa-based indie pop duo, Breakup, is made up of Abby Callaghan and Cassidy Mandel- two minds that came together to create an absolute dream. Their most recent single,"Feels Good," was released just two weeks ago and it's already racked up over 26,000 plays on Spotify! The duo has been on our radar (and playlists) since we first saw them live last fall, so we were stoked to sit down and chat for a bit! Read below and get to know your new favorite band.
How did you come together to form Breakup?
Abby: I was just out doing covers and stuff and we met through a mutual friend. I had been doing a single with one of his really close friends, Colton, and so he was hanging out at this guy’s in-house studio with us and helping with ideas. Then after that, we just started getting together and working on music! I was doing acoustic stuff and knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do forever. I wanted a different sound and I felt like he kinda knew.
Did you guys establish at the start what you wanted your sound to feel like?
Cassidy: Kinda what happened was Abby, my friend, and I were working on this EP with her and a week or two into it, it just wasn’t feeling good for some reason. I took a song home and re-did it with my instruments- like keyboards instead of drums and acoustic guitars. It just kinda stuck after that.
Were you working on any projects before this?
Cassidy: I was playing with Sports before this, for like a year, and then I was interning at the studio in Norman that they do all their records at.
What do you think about getting this project up and going in Tulsa? Do you plan on being here for a while or going somewhere else?
Abby: Both Tulsa and Norman have been really good for just starting out. I feel like if we went to LA or Nashville or wherever else, it would be really hard to start from scratch. I know we could do it, but we’ve had a lot of good connections and people who have gotten us some pretty cool opportunities so far and I’m sure there will hopefully be more coming. I think it’s good for us to develop before we just go out. We’ve had good recording experience too, so we are lucky in that area.
Cassidy: To mirror what she said, I wouldn’t want to stay here forever, but from like a logistics standpoint, touring from the Midwest is kinda cool because you can take a break after touring East coast or West coast. We haven’t played a lot of shows here yet, but all of our friends are in bands and there’s sort of a built-in community here. We like it.
Abby: I felt like we’ve gotten in a good crowd
Cassidy: Another thing that’s cool about being here as opposed to Nashville or LA is that there are less people interested in whatever you are, so those groups of people sort of gravitate towards each other instead of there being a billion people but no one ever talks to each other.
What’s your writing process like?
Cassidy: It’s kind of different every time. With the first song [“Waiting On You”] we wrote the track, arrangement wise, over Christmas beak 2015. After that, we were both back in Norman and we tried to write to it. With “Feels Good” we just kinda sat down.
Abby: Yeah, with that, we were taking a break from “Waiting On You” one night. We were just like “We need a break from this song.” That night we wrote “Feels Good.” The whole thing.
Cassidy: One of our friends was doing her stuff in the other room and we could hear it and it was simultaneously inspirational and kind of a bummer because it sounded really good. But usually, we start with something we do by ourselves then come together. We’ll take that to our friend Chad in Norman and he spends a couple days on it and mixes and produces it. Us three are kind of the only people who
Do you guys have anyone specific that has kind of acted as a mentor or given you significant advice since you started pursuing music?
Cassidy: Chad Copelin is definitely a big one for me. When I met him, I was working in a pawn shop and he kinda reached into the dirt and picked me up and brought me to Norman. Being with him and watching him work with people every day is huge. Even if you suck just being close to people who are good, you kinda just have to get better because you don’t wanna be the worst person in the room forever. The first record I helped out with was Broncho and all those guys are like geniuses. I’d say that whole crew, and people I hang out with on a daily basis, are really influential. Especially all the Sports guys and Broncho.
Abby: I was gonna say Chad and you. Lots of artists, female artists, I get inspiration from, too.
Do you draw inspiration from things other than music?
Cassidy: Abby kind of hates this, but when we are writing-
Abby: I don’t hate it now, but I did at first!
Cassidy: When we write, Ill make her stop and watch clips from movies on Youtube or scroll through the internet looking at mood boards nd stuff. I don’t know, I kinda prefer to write to a vibe instead of like “Oh, I wanna sound like Phoenix!” We’ll be like “Let’s make this feel dark and French.” That’s not specific.
Abby: Sometimes I’ll have my laptop out and I’ll scroll through boards on Pinterest, like photography and things that make me think of a certain vibe.
Are you in a constant creative mood or do you go through waves of it?
Abby: There have been certain times when we have no clue what to write.
Cassidy: We’ve sat on songs for like, year.
Abby: But, we wrote “Feels Good” before we released “Waiting on You.” We had already started on that, but then we stopped on “waiting On You” because we got stuck on what to write. Then we literally wrote all of “Feels Good,” except the bridge, in a couple hours. We were like “Oh, that was weird.” Then we pushed that aside and finished the first song. We released “Waiting On You” a while later, then got back to “Feels Good.” So I’d say we go in waves. Sometimes we would just put our minds to it and do it, but it depends.
When you take a break from a song and come back to it, do you ever end up totally changing everything, or do you just pick up where you left off?
Cassidy: Never. I’ve never been able to pick up where I left off. Honestly, if I start a song and don’t finish it that night then it’s gonna be 100% different when I pick it back up- if I even can.
Abby: Yeah, “Feels Good” used to be really different.
Cassidy: we were kinda tryng to force it to be poppier than it even is.
Abby: I guess it just got a lot more chill.
Do you have an archive of songs that are like half done? Are you going to do anything with them?
Cassidy: Yeah, we’ve got about ten or fifteen songs together. I’ve got hundreds from over the years. One day, you never know. You’ve gotta pick out the weeds.
Abby: We’re gonna start working again. It’s been a crazy last couple of months but we will start on our EP soon.
Cassidy: I think the EP will be kinda soon, but not feel forced. I mean, we have all the songs we play live.
Abby: There were times when I wanted to force it, but he was like “Chill out.” I feel like I’m really thankful for that. We could’ve taken more time on what we have out already, but at some point you kinda just have to go for it. With the EP, it’ll be soon, like we are working on it but not rushing anything.
Are you working with a manager or publisher? Anyone that might put a little pressure on you to release more?
Cassidy: No, everyone just bugs Abby about releasing new stuff. Never me.
Abby: I think now that we have more than just one song, it’s a little better. We are getting out there more and I think that’s why we wanna go with an EP next instead of a single. We do have songs ready to record so we wanna use them and that’ll give us more revenue to be booked for new shows. Unless people hear from someone else or know us, they’ll just see that we only have two songs out and probably not book us. If they don’t think we have enough for a set.
Do you guys plan on staying independent artists or do you think signing [with a label] would be a good driving force to have?
Abby: Now that I’m out of college, a driving force would be pretty cool.
Cassidy: We've never really had this discussion! Driving forces are great, splitting money with people isn’t-not like we are making any. I know a lot of people who are doing really well without a label, but management would be pretty cool.
Abby: We are just trying to see how it goes, definitely not opposed to it.
I know you're both interested in music as a career. Have you had a lot of support from the people around you?
Cassidy: My parents were stoked when I was in high school and it was fun, but when I stopped going to college, they were less stoked. I think they’ve just accepted it now. Friends have definitely supported me, everything I know I basically learned from Cale, Jacob, and Christian [Sports]. When I met Jacob I just had an acoustic guitar and Garage Band which is good set up when you’re just starting. I had been doing that for like four years and I didn’t know any more than I did when I was like 14. Then, Jacob showed me an After Lights [pre-Sports days] song before it came out and I was like “You did this? You’re younger than me! I need to step my game up.” Then I’d just annoy them with questions and try to figure out what they were doing, technically. Christian also helped work with us on production. Our friends have been so supportive and happy to help out.
Abby: Whether my friends play music or not, they’re all really supportive. Growing up I was always like “I wanna be on American idol” or just have different music dreams, but my parents are super supportive and took me to audition for those kinda things.
Would you ever try doing that again?
Abby: Oh no, I was like 15. I like the band thing a whole lot more. Those type of things cut you off really early and pretty much judge you based on your clothes. But yeah, they’ve been really supportive. My dad sings and plays instruments and my mom doesn’t do music, but she knows it really well. We listened to like The Cure and Queen, The Beatles, Duran Duran- my parents are from South Africa so their music is very British influenced. My dad once walked like 15 miles to a Queen concert in Africa and when he got there it was over. But yeah, they’re very supportive. They may not totally understand like Spotify or why I get so excited when I talk about how many plays we get, so they’re just like “Cool, Abby!” I know they’re excited, though. Like you [Cassidy] were saying how your mom freaked when you showed them Chloe’s tweet (this) I don’t know if my parents would even know what it was!
Cassidy: Yeah, Chloe [Grace Moretz] just found the song and tweeted us…and the wrong link to our song. But it’s cool. My mom freaked because she knew I had a huge crush on Chloe at one point.
Abby: It was weird because a couple days before that, one of my friends were like “You know, any day a celebrity could find your song and post about it!”
Do you find validation in little (or big) things like that?
Cassidy: Oh yeah, 100%.
Abby: They give you a little bit of a boost.
Cassidy: As soon as that happened, Chad texted me and was like “Ok, let’s start on song three!” Which is funny, but really, anything that makes you want to do more is always awesome.
Abby: It makes it easier. There’s something about eve just writing a song and being done with it- even before it’s released. I get like overwhelmed. When “Feels Good” was done, I was just like “We did this.” It wasn’t even anywhere. So when you do get that validation of someone liking it, it just feels good.
Cassidy: It’s just a cool reminder. Sometimes I get this mindset of like, “I’m making music in a bedroom in Oklahoma. What can this really turn into?” Then something like that, like a tweet, happens and it makes me wanna do more.