Stay Over, the sonic alter ego of musician Oliver Feighan, creates warm, lo-fi bedroom beats that quickly caught the attention of Cisco Adler who signed Stay Over to his label Bananabeat Records. “Stay Over is the imaginary friend in the back of your head cheering you on and telling you to do whatever the fuck you want and be whoever you want to be,” he exclaims. “It’s my personal superhero who lets me know—no matter what I’m going through or what I think about myself—I’m still free. I still make art. Stay Over is yelling, ‘Let’s keep going. Let’s be the light. Let’s get this shit done’.” He embarked on his solo endeavor in 2018 following the dissolution of his previous band and a long-term relationship. As he worked on ideas for Stay Over, he drew influences from Kid Cudi, Death Cab For Cutie and his longstanding passion for poetry and the work of William Shakespeare. Originally from Philadelphia, Feighan moved to LA from New York in 2019 and resides at Cocoon Malibu, an artistic retreat for emerging artists to gather and create. It was there that he wrote and recorded his EP with Adler and co-producer Robbie Winward. Opening up his mind, Feighan got personal with the lyrics. Rather than retreat or censor himself, he faced anxiety, loneliness, and mental health struggles head-on. He stopped smoking and drinking and unpacked latent issues, putting them to rest for the first time by converting them into lyrics. He achieved a literal, spiritual, and sonic breakthrough on his debut single “Breaking Glass” which, within a few weeks, had organically tallied 113K streams and claimed real estate on playlists such as Spotify’s New Alt. The follow-up single “Happy”, which subverts societal expectations, was written and recorded at 5AM in his childhood home. Feighan conducts intensive self-analysis through a prism of auto-tuned bliss as he sings, “I’m supposed to be happy. What happened to me? What if I don’t fit the mold that they want me to be?”. Today sees the release of his music video for “Happy”, which you can check out below! The video was released in partnership with Make Sure Your Friends Are Okay, an organization removing the stigma from mental health by breaking down barriers in communication, and was directed by Bobby Hanaford (Greyson Chance, Vic Mensa, G-Eazy). “The video highlights me being awkward and anti-social,” says Feighan. “It’s how I am a lot of the time. It was filmed during a time where I really wasn’t going outside a lot or socializing with many people. It was directed by my friend Bobby Hanaford and edited by my friend Ben Church. Special thanks to Sid Singh for DPing and for coloring. I’m lucky to have been able to work with such talented people on this video for a song that’s so special to me.” Stay Over’s music aims to make people feel like they are not alone and to be a friend who gives you extra strength, hope and the assurance that it’s ok to be emotional. You can follow Stay Over and stay up-to-date with all upcoming news, as well as stream his music, via the following links. Photo credit: Anthony Campusano.
Your plan has been to release a string of singles this year that have a positive message about mental health. How has music helped you to deal with your own issues with mental health and in what ways are you hoping that your music and message helps others?
Music saved my life. It’s always there for me. A lot of my favorite artists give me hope and encouragement to keep going. That’s what I hope my music does for people that listen to it. I just want to be open and honest with how I feel and what goes on in my head. I never want to come off as preachy. But if I just say how I feel and be vulnerable, I think it’ll give other people the strength to do the same. I always feel better when I hear someone talk about the same shit I go through because it makes me feel like I’m not alone.
Your latest single “Happy” challenges societal expectations of what it means to be happy. What do you feel are the societal expectations for happiness and how have you gone about finding happiness for yourself?
I realized that I used to be a lot happier as a kid. Without even trying. I guess that makes me lucky. Not everyone has a happy childhood. As I’ve gotten older and gone through more life, it’s been harder to feel true happiness. I was trying to fake it for a while because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was constantly hiding my depression and anxiety from people because I didn’t ever want to put that on my friends or family. It became way too much to hide so I just decided that if I was going to be feeling like shit sometimes, I might as well just let people know. It felt so fake to hide how I really was feeling.
What can you tell me about your long-standing passion for poetry and love of Shakespeare? How has your love for poetry influenced your music?
School was hard for me. I wasn’t very good at math or science. But I was good with words. I was good at poetry. In 7th / 8th grade I remember really taking interest in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Iambic pentameter. It reminded me of my favorite rappers. It was easy for me, so I decided to start writing. Poems. Raps. Rhymes. Whatever. I loved words. It was so fun. It became a passion of mine that made me feel so free and creative. It was my earliest form of songwriting.
What inspired your decision to move from NY to LA and how do you feel it has influenced you personally and as a musician?
I grew up in Philadelphia. Then I spent a few years in NYC. I have family in both places. I was always spending a few days or a few weeks at a time in LA over the years before I finally made the move. I wanted a break from the east coast. I wanted to try and do something different and branch out on my own. It made me grow up a lot. Moving somewhere where I had no family and not a lot of close friends. I was forced to think differently and look at myself from a different perspective. I might not have ever gotten out of my comfort zone on the east coast. Who knows? It made me do things differently. And that made me think of music differently.
Growing up on the east coast I fell in love with hip hop at a young age. When I got to California, I went through a period of time that lasted a few months where all I listened to was singer-songwriter stuff for the first time in my life. I guess I wanted to relearn and re-fall in love with music. I felt exhausted listening to rap all the time. It’s weird, I guess, and one day I’ll write a book about it, but I think I just wanted to tap into a different part of my brain. It’s been a wild experience.
You met Cisco Adler once moving to LA and after hearing some demos, he signed you to his label Bananabeat Records! You have said that you had been making music for years without direction and that he has been like a coach for you. What has it been like to work with him and his label? What kind of direction has he given you?
Cisco invited me and my friend Robbie over to his house over the summer to play basketball. There were other producers and writers there. We played every Sunday for a few months and most of the conversation had been about basketball or something that happened to one of us earlier that week. I had never put out solo music before and Cisco was the one who really pushed me to release the stuff I had been working on in private from the year prior. Robbie was producing all the music I was working on. He was helping me write and come up with ideas.
One day Cisco asked us to come over for a session after months of playing basketball. I thought we were going over there to work on something for him or even another artist. He brought up the idea of finishing and releasing a project for the music I had been working on with Robbie. From there, the rest is history. He encouraged me to take the leap of faith and begin my project under the name Stay Over. Whenever I get down or have doubts, which I often do, Cisco’s the one who pushes me to keep going and gives me the words of advice I need.
What can you tell me about Cocoon Malibu, the creative gathering place for artists that you are based out of? How has being a part of that environment inspired you?
The Cocoon is wild. I started living there in October. I’ve never lived in a place like it. Everyone is constantly working on ideas. Music. Photographer. Visuals. Everything. It makes me want to work way harder on my art.
Last month marked one year sober for you from alcohol and weed. What has that journey been like for you?
It’s been about 14 months now. I don’t even really think about it anymore, to be honest. I stopped smoking and drinking because I knew I needed to do some self-work and using substances was just prolonging that process for me. I was running from myself and it was easy to smoke and drink to avoid actually doing the work I knew I needed to do on myself. It was really painful the first couple months. Especially socially. I had realized that I didn’t really know how to be at a party or out at night without being high or drunk. I realized without those things I was very awkward a lot of the time. I slowly realized I didn’t really like being at social things all the time as much as I used to. It helped me get focused. I started focusing way more on my craft. Started pushing myself when it came to my writing. I got brutally honest. Because I guess for the first time in my life, I got brutally honest with myself. Putting that into my music has been the easy part. It’s therapeutic. I don’t think I could have gotten sober if I didn’t have music. It’s helped me sort through my thoughts and feelings.
What are your thoughts on the Coronavirus’ impact on the music industry and how have you been keeping busy?
I’m going to miss live shows. There’s such a special energy when you see an amazing show. It’s unlike anything else. Personally, I’m used to isolating myself for long periods of time. Lol. Just being honest. So that aspect isn’t very new to me. But not having the freedom to go wherever I want and do whatever I want is definitely taking a toll on me. I’ve been writing and recording as much as I can. I’ve been going on runs. I’ve been reading more than usual. And I’ve gotten a chance to catch up with people I don’t always get a chance to talk to. Honestly, I hope this whole thing is over soon. I’m going to fly back and see my family on the east coast when I can. I miss them.
What’s next for you? What are your goals going forward?
New music every month. Then an EP. Then more new music. Then an album. We’ll see how long it takes us to take over. I want my music to help people. Especially the kids. That’s what I’m doing it for. I don’t really have a dream of being famous. But I do have a dream of leaving a positive impact on this world.