For those going through it this season, the artist presents a collection of “songs to feel like crap to on the beach, songs to play when you stay inside with all the lights off and windows closed to hide the incessant buzzing of life”


You can’t time tragedy or trauma. It would be great if life did you the courtesy of waiting until the conditions were best suited for falling apart — under 50 degrees is def optimal for curling up in the fetal position, and it’s nice if there’s some rain falling to poetically mirror the tears rolling down your face… or, better yet, a full-blown storm of some sort to aptly reflect all your inner turmoil — before turning your life totally upside down. But sometimes you’re forced to grapple with your grief while the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and everyone is running around in bikinis and apparently going to Portugal… to reckon with loss and upheaval in a time traditionally defined by fun, excess and excitement… to process your pain in the middle of motherfucking Aperol-spritz season.

Brooklyn musician Katie Ortiz (of Debbie Dopamine, among other projects) has, in her life, endured at least one immensely sad summer. So when she reached out with an idea to counter the easy-breezy soundtracks bouncing about on the internet annually around this time with something different, designed to offer a specific kind of comfort to those just trying to cope, we were thrilled to provide the platform. Below, please find Katie’s playlist, packed with songs to hit that (bitter)sweet spot, complete with context from the immensely talented artist herself.

Listen, feel and be sure to share with someone who just might need it. <3


When it’s this hot and bright it feels like a sick joke. Your skin turns brown while your insides turn steadily colder and cavernous. You’d like to be seduced by the sensory overload of the outdoors, cool water lapping at your ankles, the delighted shrieks of neighborhood kids playing in a fire hydrant. The intense physicality of the season reminds you that though your body is here, your mind is anything but.

Welcome to Grief Girl Summer! For those in pain, it’s a strangely exhilarating and crushing time to exist. You’re being torn apart piece by excruciating piece, but it’s a cloudless blue sky day for everything outside of yourself. The sweltering, nagging sunshine is a reminder of all the fun you could or should be having, while you can’t comprehend the lightness apparent in everyone’s step but yours. “I’m in pain!” you scream at the universe. “Get fucked!” it screams back at you. Fun!

I lost my mom in June of my senior year of high school, a week before graduating. Our relationship was complicated, and I found the prospect of processing the sudden loss dizzying. I spent the following summer frantically racing to stay a step ahead of my grief, self inducing periods of mania and something that strangely resembled euphoria. (Our song “Swimming Pool” recalls this intense and confusing period of time. We shot the music video at the sports fields at Fort Tilden in an attempt to capture the endless feeling of that summer, back when our worlds seemed small.) By the unrelenting heat of August, I had begun to wither and crash. But the hope and promise of the sunshine and life beyond high school continued to swirl around me like some kind of shitty prank. 

I’ve always found it a little ridiculous that few things make us feel as incredibly, acutely alive as deep, soul shaking pain. Something about loss makes you keenly aware, even as you may detach from your reality. And grief can take many forms – the end of a promising relationship, a lost opportunity, a devastatingly unresolved friendship breakup.

If you’re riding the waves of grief this summer, please allow me to present a selection of songs to accompany your roiling emotions. Songs to feel like crap to on the beach, songs to play when you stay inside with all the lights off and windows closed to hide the incessant buzzing of life. It’s imbued with a healthy dose of moodiness to soundtrack the weird schism between the lush roar of summer and your inner, brutal reality. May it hold you even when you don’t want to admit you need holding.

Come out to cry with Debbie Dopamine on the following dates this summer:

7/30 at Rubulad with Wifey, In Lieu of Roses, and Heat cheque

8/2 at Hart Bar with Mikey Erg, John Cozz, and Brook Pridemore

8/17 at Trans Pecos for Wetsuit’s album release


Follow Debbie Dopamine at @debbiedopamine, buy music on Bandcamp and add songs to your Spotify playlists!

Feature image provided by the artist

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