| "The future is so old, the future is so cold"
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After a rough breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Titanic Sinclair, followed by his creation of the Poppy project, Mars began working on recording new material at EastWest Studios in Los Angeles, California, in early 2015.
On December 21, 2014, Mars announced that she was writing new music and dubbed the genre as 'death pop'. At the beginning of 2015, she registered a web domain and Tumblr page for "guppyfeels", plus a Twitter page for "guppymusic". This is believed to have been related to an album title or even a new stage name. Titanic wrote a song about their breakup, "Guppy", shortly afterwards.
Mars was interviewed for Nylon Japan magazine in June 2015 for her feature as 'LA It Girl'. In it, she confirmed that she was releasing new solo music and a collaborative short film (Sunrise Kingdom) in January 2016.
Close friend and Ordinary Lovers costar Ivan Leung confirmed in 2017 on Instagram that he would be with Mars in the recording studio. It was at first believed that Mars had begun working on material with Josh Moran in late 2017, as they followed each other on social media and Josh posted a photo with Winston on his social media. However, a Youtuber by the name of Edwin Costa posted a video in July of 2018 showing screenshots of his conversations with Ivan Leung, a friend of Mars, confirming that she had never worked with Moran for music. It is possible, however, that Mars may collaborate with Mitch Grassi of Pentatonix and Superfruit, whom she has been close friends with since the beginning of the album's development.