Victoria, BC-based artist Jeremy James enjoys a romantic bath night for one — or four, including the rubber ducks. He holds a rose, has a candlelit and a sneaky glass of wine on the edge of the bath. It’s a classic quarantine, ‘treat yourself’ evening except for the toy gun sitting in the wine glass – which prepares listeners for something darker to come up in his song “hey, how ya been”, such as Jeremy’s experiences with isolation and self-acceptance as a queer artist. The music video of “hey, how ya been” shows two sides of James: a serious version, expressing his heartbreak through anger and direct eye contact with the camera and a silly version, dealing with heartbreak through drinking and playing with bath toys.
On the surface, “hey, how ya been” appears to be about a man reaching out to a past lover who has moved onto someone else. The song’s narrator reveals how much it hurts to “think of what [they] had” and admits that “it kills [him] to see [him] take his hand.” But just like James, the song has multiple levels. Where most sad love songs always seem to stick with one side of the story — blame them or blame yourself for the breakup — “hey, how ya been” manages to do both. As the song progresses, the story turns, suggesting that perhaps the relationship the narrator dreams of returning to wasn’t all it seemed: “the way you scream so loudly, are you still the same… with him as you were with me.”
There is hurt and heartbreak in James’ beautiful, deep, and gravelly voice that reaches some lovely high notes in the chorus, accompanied by some sweet echoes and harmonies. A beautiful indie-rock song, “hey, how ya been” is the perfect song to keep in your back pocket for your next break up.