Fresh of The Boat: ROLE MODEL – what the heck is even “a role model” tho?


Credit: Vice

Yen Dang

“We all need a role model in our lives.”

I hate to break it to you, but Tucker Pillsbury is nowhere near your perfectly crafted idea of “a role model” no matter what his stage name is, which, ironically and in all caps, is ROLE MODEL btw. He is one of those boys that will “break your heart” and “fall in love with anything that walks his way” and ignore “10 missed calls from you” just because he feels like it as he sings about all that on the dreamy tunes of “girl in new york.” He is not your little and soft beam of sunshine nor writes and sings songs that are exciting and catchy; Tucker accepts the imperfections of life and dives into the darkest sides of depression, isolation, loneliness, failed relationships and self-doubt.

Music to Tucker is an unexpected outlet of his emotions after going through the recovery of a life-threatening ski accident in 2017, which has left him in a period of severe depression. Indeed, he was defeated but he has never been hopeless. It is through this dark period of his life that ROLE MODEL has found his inspiration, and essentially, the small and random lines on a class notebook turned into an enormous diary of his emotions and the stepping-stone for his songs.

Credit: Ones To Watch

I remember reading one of his interviews in 2018 where Tucker said that one of his biggest goals is “to make people dance while crying.” I didn’t really understand it until his latest release – “hello.” At the first listen, I was actually caught off guard at the upbeat bounce that “hello” has because a lot of his older music is generally very sad and mellow. But then as I get to the lyrics, I just know that this song will legit get my ass crying so hard even if its upbeat and catchy jams do have me dancing. The song talks about the toxicity of being in a relationship that has reached its “expiration date” yet neither of the two people know the exact reason for it to happen and continue to beat themselves up about it, then, eventually become self-destructive and distant along the process. I guess it is rather an uncommon situation that not all of us has gone through but for the people who have or are going through the same thing, it is really a hit to the heart. I think I also find it both intriguing and sympathetic that ROLE MODEL has captured this untouched “territory” of love because such a relationship doesn’t always get represented in the music industry.

However, out of all of his releases, “six speed” still remains my all-time favorite. It speaks all the right things which nobody dares to speak of because, to most people, it is weak to cry after getting a call from your mom, it is weak to feel sad to wake up alone, and it is weak to have breakdowns when you are an adult. It is the stripped-down, the melancholy and the soft tinkling of a bicycle that have gotten me on the first listen, and it just seems like the one track that Tucker has poured all of his deepest vulnerabilities and insecurities into before finally moving on.

And, all of this is exactly why Tucker Pillsbury will never collide with your typical idea of a role model because no such role model will ever be what he is. Yet, instead of striving to become one, he will show you that it is okay to not have a role model, that is okay to never be that role model, that it is okay to feel miserable and to screw up sometimes. Because at the end, there is no such thing called “a role model” or any particularly clear checkpoints which will certify you as one, and you will only need to feel happy and that you are enough to get through the day.

So, I guess, we don’t really need a role model in our lives after all.