Sometimes silence says everything.
Dream-pop artist Sammy Cannillo muses on the void left where someone once was in “Sleep On It,” her new single released today.
“The absence of someone else’s sound just felt like the loudest thing I had ever heard,” Cannillo said. “And just not having it in my life anymore, not hearing the voice and hearing your calls.”
Cannillo draws on that swirl of emotions that come when you feel like you’re at the end of something, but you don’t know for sure. Even though you think you already know.
“I just was laying there staring at the ceiling for so long, and I’m like, ‘This person is just getting all the sleep in the world and I’m just sinking into my bed,’” she said.
Those 4 a.m. thoughts, when the rest of the world is asleep and your world is feeling empty, can spiral into raw simplicity when your mind starts to wander.
“I’d feel these thoughts going through my head like, ‘I want to know when you had your last haircut. I just need to know when you had your last haircut,’” Cannillo said. “It’s not very deep, so to speak, but that’s what I was thinking and feeling. … It’s also kind of about how I was waiting for a response from someone. And, again, just not hearing from them.”
The lyrics are evocative to anybody who has experienced that longing in silence, and they ride atop a starkly beautiful, tip-toeing melody, like pinpoints of light in a dark room.
“I wrote the song kind of a while ago, maybe a few years ago at this point now, and it just took me a while to be okay and comfortable enough to sing it because it is very personal,” she said. “It also felt very cathartic. … It is like the relief to the story and kind of like, ‘You know what? I’m fine with this situation. It’s sad, but it’s okay.’”
Cannillo recruited a little help for the finished version of “Sleep On It” in the form of collaborator Joe Marcus, who joined her on her last single, “What Happened.” Marcus is also playing with Cannillo on her upcoming EP.
“My first two albums, I took so much pride in myself producing everything and basically doing everything on all the tracks, all the instruments,” she said. “So it took me a while to warm up to having someone else do things with me, but it paid off immensely. Joe is awesome, and he really pushes the songs to the next level, so it’s been great.”
Violet Crime’s Jeff Mills also lent his talents for guest vocals on the track. Mills and Cannillo have performed live together, but this is the first time they’ve collaborated on a recording.
Cannillo said “Sleep On It” was partially inspired by songs from the band Peach Pit, (“They make me feel sad, but they also make me feel OK or accepting.”) and she wanted hers to feel the same way.
“Especially the way it ends with Jeff singing on the last chorus to make it more full, to make it more together,” she said. “It’s like other people feel that, too, and I’m here with my friends.”
Cannillo’s release is out on major streaming services today. She will also be livestreaming a show later in May. Watch her Facebook for updates.