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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

arts music

Local artist comments on the effects of societal, self-inflicted pressure in new song


Michael Bruner, local musician and IU graduate, released his song “all the pressure” on July 27. In the song, he discusses the immense pressure society puts on individuals to perform over their capacity. 

Bruner said he created the initial idea for “all the pressure” two years ago when he wrote the guitar chords.  

“I usually don't consider what the story is until I have some sounds going,” Bruner said.  

While listening to the guitar riff, Bruner said the expression “mind over matter” came to mind when he heard it. Eventually, he thought of the toxic pride some people have when they push their bodies to overperform, such as pulling an all-nighter to complete homework.  

Bruner said he likes to find the meaning of his songs off a line, creating a conversation around an expression. He often ends up questioning and commenting on a societal or cultural construct, he said.

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 “all the pressure” was titled after the intrinsic and extrinsic pressure of society and one’s self. Bruner said he was thinking of pressure from family, friends and media but also life experiences and the ways people pressure themselves.  

Bruner compared it to a seesaw, going back and forth between what the world wants you to do and what you want to do. Especially in Western society, Bruner said there is a culture that promotes hyper-productivity, which cultivates toxic tendencies.  

“High pressure is the pressure that we create out of nothing or by misinterpreting a situation,” Bruner said. “We overextend ourselves from that pressure and then we get burnt out and we get tired –– get exhausted –– from that pressure, and then we crash and feel like a failure.” 

With his lyrics “Mind over matter/ dripping in data/ aren’t we made of what we make of/our limited time/ here as a human,” Bruner said people build realities out of what they believe.  

Bruner said his lyrics, “Why refuse to do what you know is best for you,” comments on the people’s tendency to scroll on their phones while sitting on a couch instead of taking care of their physical needs.  

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Bruner said “all the pressure” is his favorite track on the six-song EP he will be releasing on Sept. 24. 

Elias McDermott Sipe, local musician, producer and long-time friend of Bruner, said he relates to the meaning behind “all the pressure” in the line, “limited time here as a human” and feeling like society is rushing people.  

The music video for “all the pressure” shows Bruner floating on a mattress in Lake Michigan, wearing a onesie and playing the song on a small guitar with a stuffed dinosaur next to him. 

“It encapsulates how it might feel to have no pressure,” Bruner said. “It's like this idealistic state or scenario in which you're just freely floating on the sea in a bed. You're in a onesie; it's like you're kind of a kid again.” 

Andrew Torbenson, IU graduate and LA based freelance cinematographer, directed the music video. He and Bruner have been friends since high school and Torbenson has directed two unreleased music videos with him. 

“We just kind of floated him out on the air mattress,” Torbenson said. “Some takes we had him tethered, but in one we actually used no tether, and we just followed him along.” 

While he relates to the pressure this song talks about during the creative processes in his work, Torbenson said it also relates to pressure in relationships. 

“The pressure is him being surrounded by this vast ocean, but kind of still keeping intact with your inner child,” Torbenson said. 

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