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Discussing death isn’t a topic of conversation that most people want to share with their parents, but it’s something that Quilt’s Shane Butler found himself talking about with his mother more often than not.
Considering their relationship, when Butler’s mother grabbed his hands out of the blue one day and told him that she wanted him to be there when she died, it wasn’t anything exceptionally unordinary.
What did come as a shock, however, was when his mother took her life only a few months after this encounter. Somewhere in between, Butler had written a mellow tune named “Beige Flowers” about her plea, thinking little of foreshadowing at the time. Now, three years later, Butler says he’s ready to release the song after a lengthy grieving period as a part of his solo project Olden Yolk.
“My mother and I used to talk about death a lot,” Butler tells Bandcamp in a recent interview. “She had a very spiritual life, and she was interested in how lots of different traditions handled death, and so was I. We had a lot of conversations about death before she died, and even together we read about ways that different traditions handled death. She told me about ways that she would want to die, before this even became anything. So when she said this thing to me, she said it in a way that struck a chord with me. It felt strange. But at the same time, it wasn’t totally alien because we’d talked about things like this before. So there were two elements to it. One was, ‘Ok, is this just a conversation we’re having?’ But there was also a tinge of something different. She said things to my brother and my sister during this period of time that, looking back on them, we see them as cues that something was up. But at the time, because of the way that she was, it could have just been a commonplace conversation.”
Seeing how his own mother had no outlet to help her when she needed it most, Butler wants to use “Beige Flowers” in an effort to break down the stigmas that surround mental health. All proceeds from the single will benefit Bring Change 2 Mind, a foundation that works to educate people about mental health through workshops and PSAs.
The entire nature of the project is delicate, and Butler needed three years to mull over his feelings before sharing “Beige Flowers” with the world, but the conversation is always relevant and marks a thoughtful move for Butler under his solo project.
“Until now, this song has felt ‘too real’ to release,” he adds. “But conversation is where real change can begin. I never expected my mother to die shortly after I wrote this song or to ever die in the way she did. In truth, I don’t think she or anyone she knew expected it either. She was always regarded as someone with a strong mind. Yet, illness takes even the healthiest of us sometimes.”
You can stream “Beige Flowers” below, and chip in to cause on Bandcamp. Featured Butler photo by Daniel Dorso.