Sensitivity is a strength—so says Katie Stump, also known as BLÜ EYES. With a musical pseudonym borne out of light sensitivity (blue eyes being the most affected), and vulnerable, soul-baring lyrics, Stump is here to encapsulate the tenderness of the human experience. On her new EP The Last Songs I’ll Write About You (out May 5 on VERSION III), she blends her signature bedroom pop production with issues of loss, identity and abandonment.
Stump grew up in a musical family and looked to her parents as inspiration, from singing at the dinner table to full ensemble productions for every holiday. After attending the University of Southern California for pop performance, she continued performing and playing in bands throughout her early twenties. In addition to her time on stage, she began to develop her production skills. “I've always had an interest in production, but I only had male role models to look up to,” she says. She bonded over the shared interest with women in her graduating class and began to work on solo music under BLÜ EYES, releasing her first EP healing hurts in 2022.
Yet, in the midst of finding her footing as a songwriter and artist, she found herself swept up in a whirlwind friendship. “It was just incredibly toxic,” she remembers. One part colleague, one part mentor and one part close friend, this person played an integral role in Stump’s early career. However, Stump noticed more and more that she was losing her own sense of agency and individuality, not only as an artist, but as a person. Trying to extricate herself from a difficult dynamic, Stump ultimately cut ties with them entirely. “The breakup with this friend was so much worse than any relationship breakup I've ever had,” she says. “I had been so focused on trying to make this other person's dream happen, and I didn't ask myself if it was something that I actually wanted!”
Luckily, Stump has done plenty of work on her own dreams in the time since. In The Last Songs I’ll Write About You, she takes listeners through each stage of a toxic relationship, from initial rose-colored glasses, to shunted feelings, to lock-jawed anger. She cites the influence of Taylor Swift when it came to writing lyrics, particularly in the expansive final track, “The Last Song.” “‘All Too Well’ tells such a complete story about a relationship—the good, the bad, the everything,” she says. “That's what this feels like to me.”
And the “everything” is what makes BLÜ EYES special. Including every high and low from Stump’s life can be emotionally draining, but she is ultimately glad she put every last bit of herself into the music. “I don't want this EP to be just about this friend,” she says. “I want it to be about the loss of identity with someone else.” And within each of these markers—her personal experiences, her self-produced sound, her narrative storytelling—is where the songs truly shine. “It's imprinting myself on the music,” Stump says. “Every single sound you hear is put there by me.”