Lil Peep and Raised By Swans: An Unlikely Duo.

because i guess i should go on record about this at some point.

in June 2020, a kind person from Turkey named Ayberk, who happens to be a fan of both my music and American rapper Lil Peep’s, sent an email to ask about a collaboration i’d done which i knew nothing about.

shortly thereafter, i found myself in the surreal position of watching a video featuring one of Lil Peep’s earliest songs, “Praying to the Sky”, and instantly recognizing it, though i’d never heard it before. this was because the backing track was a looped segment of my own song, “spilled more blood”, slightly slowed and pitch-shifted down, but lifted directly from my 2014 album Öxnadalur, including the instrumental parts i’d written and played, the morse code i’d programmed, and even my intake of breath before i started singing. in short, intimate fingerprints on top of intimate fingerprints on top of intimate fingerprints, but credited to someone else; the only writer/performer on “Praying to the Sky” since its release had only ever been listed as Lil Peep, sometimes accompanied by the name of a producer. over the five years that the song had been out, i’d never been contacted or credited.

discovering this caused some pretty severe (and enduring) anxiety and sadness, to be honest, though i don’t want to dwell on that here. but also, i knew that looking into fixing things would likely lead to the kind of complex, drawn-out legal process that someone like me would never have been able to afford. if Lil Peep/Gustav himself had still been around, i’m sure we could have connected and easily sorted things out between us. sadly, by the time i heard the song, he’d already been gone for almost three years.

after speaking with ALAS (Artists’ Legal Advice Services), an Ontario-based organization that i highly recommend to musicians who find themselves in similar situations, i reached out to someone from my distant past.  this was Laurie Gelfand, a music lawyer who i’d met many years ago in another life, and who in her kindness was willing to work with me as a contingency case.  i’m grateful to say that Lil Peep’s team (including his mother) responded with sensitivity and professionalism, restoring credit where it was due, at least going forward, and i appreciate and thank them for that. but the lion’s share of my gratitude goes to Laurie Gelfand for her generous support, brilliance and empathy in helping me navigate, both legally and personally, a profoundly uncomfortable and uncertain period of my life.  thank you again, Laurie, for everything. i don’t know what i would have done without you. 

as for denying the use of the sample, as i’ve heard some other musicians have done regarding the ongoing re-releases of Lil Peep’s early music (the album/mixtape with “Praying to the Sky” on it has yet to be officially re-released), this made no sense to me.  the song will be forever out there in the ether regardless of what i’d chosen to do, and doing things this way has at least let me reclaim my part of it.

but aside from all of that, and however i might feel about how it all came about, “Praying to the Sky” is a part of Lil Peep’s legacy now. and i suppose mine.  and on a different note, clearly he felt a strong connection to my song, through his struggles. with that in mind, we probably share more similarities than differences. no hard feelings, and RIP, Gustav.

a warm thank you again to Ayberk, for getting in touch to let me know about this in the first place – without your attentive ears and thoughtfulness, i may have never found out about this at all. i hope you’re okay, my friend. please get in touch if you can.

this has all been difficult for me to share, if the three years that have passed since i found out about it don’t make that obvious. so i’d like the story to end here, at least from my own side of things, with a song that’s very dear to me. it’s called “spilled more blood”. thank you.