- Words Solly Warner
- Photography Pooneh Ghana
At just 21-years-old, rising artist Dayglow continues to embrace his DIY blueprint on impressive new album ‘Harmony House’, inspired by the nostalgic feeling of 70s and 80s pop music.
Sloan Struble, aka Dayglow, flew onto the scene with his successful debut album ‘Fuzzybrain’ in 2019. The release came just as he was heading to college and quickly shot the young Texan to huge heights. One track that particularly stood out was “Can I Call You Tonight?” which gained impressive traction on TikTok and now sits at over 210 million streams on Spotify alone.
Although Dayglow’s debut project covered the many struggles that teenagers face whilst growing up, ‘Fuzzybrain’ was full of optimism. The young singer-songwriter and producer had instantly created a feelgood DNA covered in dreamy soundscapes. Dayglow’s early success even led him to selling out his first headline tour, which was unfortunately cut short due to COVID.
Having maintained a connection with his fans during quarantine life by sharing a series of videos breaking down how he made some of his tracks, Dayglow makes his official return with ‘Harmony House’. The most recent single from the album comes in the form of “Balcony” which follows the ‘Harmony House’ lead single, “Close To You”. With the record further teased by the David Byrne-inspired groove of “Something”; about the overwhelming experience of contemporary life as it’s lived both digitally and in real life. Talking on “Balcony”, Dayglow explains, “I wanted to make a song that felt like The Cure, Broncho, and the Mario Kart Soundtrack huddled up. Not sure why— it just feels nice. Hope you enjoy it and play it at a house party, or something cause that’s definitely what it’s for/about.”
As for ‘Harmony House’, it can be musically drawn to piano-driven soft rock from the late 70s and the euphoric, immortal pop of the early 80s. It is important to remember that Dayglow writes, produces, records and mixes everything himself. With a clear vision, complete creative control and attention to detail, the unified theme is continued throughout; a true feeling of nostalgia and escapism is achieved in the young pop stars hugely accomplished and always uplifting new album. The release also comes with the announcement of his first ever UK dates as part of his Harmony House Tour starting this July.
What’s emerged is a finely calibrated, carefully fussed expression of encouragement for anyone who needs it; a timeless but timely pop album about growing up, and the ‘Harmony House’ that Dayglow built.
Notion spoke with Dayglow about the two sides of TikTok and its impact on the industry, how he has developed as an artist between his two albums, how he’s continuing to make music as honest as possible, and much more.
Congratulations on the release of your latest single “Balcony”. What does it feel like to be a step closer to sharing your forthcoming album ‘Harmony House’?
I’m stoked. Yeah, it’s gonna be so fun to finally put it out. It’s weird cuz I write and mix my own music, so I’ve heard this album, a plethora of times. So now to put it out, it’s just a brand-new experience. Although it’s my second album, whenever I put my first album out, ‘Fuzzybrain’ it was a very different experience. You know, I was kind of putting it out for no one, really. And now with people waiting, it’s a whole different beast. So, it’s gonna be really fun.
You’ve previously said that “Balcony” has been through many different versions before its completion. Why did you take your time with this particular song, and what were you trying to achieve in this track?
Um, yeah, I mean, it’s a good question. When you mix your own music, you kind of hate every song that you make, you know, eventually you kind of hate it. So, for “Balcony”, there was a time where I was like, “there’s no way I’m going to use this song”. Because I just couldn’t evolve with it and I couldn’t get the vocals down, and I don’t know. It just it kind of drove me crazy. Then a couple months later, I came back to and did some changes, did some mixing things, got new plugins, and then would try them on the song and I’d be like, “oh, that kind of works”, you know. So, yeah, I don’t know. It’s just a song that’s evolved a lot since I started it and I’ve evolved so much before I started it, so I’ve kind of taken bits and pieces.
Now it’s been over a year since the release of your successful debut album ‘Fuzzybrain’ and one of the tracks, “Can I Call You Tonight?” has now reached over 200 million streams. What was your reaction when you saw the streams going up and up, and have the obvious positives come with any added pressures?
Oh, yeah! Let’s see… I was always really confident in the song, I thought it had a lot of potential to get in that little pocket of the internet, that just like kind of works, and just fit, you know? So, I had a feeling that might happen, but to the scale that it has, has been pretty surreal. To see how long the song has lasted and how special it’s been for so many people is really, really cool. But it reached a point where like, I was trying to push it into these little blogs or things. Because when I first released it, I didn’t have any sort of team or managers or something. So, I would I guess email blogs, and be like “hey, listen to my song”. But then it reached a point where I was watching it do its thing, and it just like, went off. So, it’s been really, really cool to see that happen. I just don’t even feel like I made it anymore. I just hear it and I’m like, “oh, yeah… Can I Call You Tonight? like that’s a song.” I don’t know. It’s really weird, and I’m super thankful for it. But it’s been strange.
You may have been alluding to it a bit there, but some of the success was down to the song being picked up by TikTok users. What are your views on the platform and seeing the impact it’s had on music charts and the industry as a whole?
For sure, yeah! Oh man, that is a loaded question! I feel like everybody kind of has a mutual idea where like, there’s two different ways to talk about it. You know, from an industry standpoint, what TikTok is doing is unbelievable. It’s crazy how songs can just blow up and careers can start, and there’s so much industry benefit from it.
But then at the same time I see TikTok and I’m like, “is this good for people?” As great as it is, from an industry standpoint, you know, is this good for people? So, I don’t know. I’m still figuring out my way to work with it because for “Can I Call You Tonight?’, I had pretty much nothing to do with it blowing up on TikTok. I made a post on Instagram, and I was like, “hey, my songs are on TikTok now”, and I remember when I said that I was like, “the doors have been open”, making some joke about it, and then it happened. So, I don’t know. It’s an incredible, incredible thing that songs can blow up and there’s so many amazing stories, hearing from it, but I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see how it lasts. Because, I don’t know, I think I learned about TikTok like a year ago. It hasn’t been that long. So, it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.
Just staying on the theme of “Can I Call You Tonight, you also performed the song for your TV debut on ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ recently. What was that whole experience like?
It was weird. Very cool. I mean, we filmed it in Austin, cuz everything’s very remote right now. So unfortunately, didn’t get to meet Stephen. But you know, maybe someday that could be cool. It was weird playing an old song for a TV debut, but it was really, really cool. I’m nowhere close to complaining about it. Like it was awesome. It was a very cool experience but surreal because I’ve experienced so much growth during COVID, but I’ve been in the same place the whole time. So, when I watched it on TV, it didn’t feel like I was watching… it looks like a fan edited it or something. I watched it on live TV and I was like, “oh, yeah”. It just hasn’t clicked yet. I feel like going on tour is going to be a moment where clicks.
Going back to your new album, as I’d like to break that down with you a bit more, how did ‘Harmony House’ begin its life? How did it all come together?
So, the initial idea of ‘Harmony House’ was to write the soundtrack to a sitcom that doesn’t exist. I wanted to hone into the nostalgic feeling of 70s and 80s pop music, and a sitcom theme, I don’t know. I had this whole plan around it that just couldn’t really work out with budget I found out but also with COVID. Because I wanted to film a pilot episode for it and make this whole thing you know, but maybe down the road? Who knows? It was just initially a collection of songs that I wanted to feel very thematic. I love when albums are cohesive and fit together. So for ‘Harmony House’, having that in the back of my mind that they’re together a soundtrack really helped me a lot. Then throughout the album, I ended up adding this melody that’s in pretty much every song, so it kind of just feels like this little glue, this cohesive thing. It just feels like a statement of the last two years for me, which have been very transformative.
That leads me on to my next question nicely. Diving a bit deeper, what are some of the main differences in comparison to ‘Fuzzybrain’ and how have you developed as an artist between the two projects, especially during the last year or so?
Well, something really cool about Dayglow is I play and mix and do everything musically. So technically speaking, every album I make is going to be better than the last from a sonic standpoint, because I’m literally learning how to do it. I think from ‘Fuzzybrain’ to ‘Harmony House’, or I wouldn’t say ‘Fuzzybrain’ was like low fire or something because I was really trying to make it as high quality as I could, you know. But with ‘Harmony House’ I learned a little bit more. So, I think naturally people will just realise it’s a lot more mature of an album where a lot of the songwriting is just a little bit more personal. I kind of found out more how to write songs. I think the way that ‘Fuzzybrain’ is just kind of who I was when I was 17 and 18, ‘Harmony House’ is who I was when I was, 20-21. Naturally, I think that’ll show in the music. But I guess like references… I was inspired by 70s and 80s pop music, because that’s all I listen to nowadays. I think pretty naturally, as an artist, you replicate what you’re digesting.
Now that you’re with a label, compared to the first album, did you have any added, exterior help on this project, or did you still work quite exclusively on your own?
Yeah, I mean, as far as making music, it’s completely on my own. I didn’t have anybody mix it or anything. I had somebody master it. Which is a complicated thing. Explaining to someone what mastering is, it’s kind of like, well it makes it louder and kinda does something. I’m not discrediting Jolla Porto who is the guy who mastered it. He’s like a genius at mastering. But that I didn’t do. I just sent him the files and made the album. I’m working with a distribution label so nothing really creative they’re in control of, which has been awesome because it’s the same thing. So, they helped me, and I have managers, so everybody’s kind of helping me organise a release, and how to do it properly and connecting me to a lot of people. But as far as the creative vision and how personal the music is, I still made it in a bedroom.
Being so invested in your work independently, are there any artists that you would be more than happy to collaborate with in an ideal world?
Oh, my gosh! Yeah, I don’t know. Like, one of my goals in music is to produce and write for other people. I think that’d be so fun and I think naturally that would be the greatest way to use my gifts. Right now, I love everything with Dayglow and it’s awesome, but in the future, that’d be really cool. But I don’t know, there’s a lot of fun collaborations that could happen. When I get asked this, I try to do the greatest aspirations or something. So, I want to collab with Tame Impala! That’d be awesome. Go in as big as possible!
With a lot of the music that you’ve already released, it has quite an uplifting and optimistic feeling to it. Was this intended and what do you want the listeners to gain after playing through the entirety of the new album?
Very good question. One of my goals with Dayglow is to make optimism not feel ignorant. I feel like happy music gets categorised in this Disney subcategory or something where it’s not cool, or it can’t be taken seriously. I think I just want to be really honest and direct with my music and still make it feel optimistic. So, I think with ‘Harmony House’ specifically, I was just learning how to grow up really quickly and I learned how to let go of wanting to have control over everything. I think a lot of people could probably relate with that in some aspect of their life, so I hope after listening to ‘Harmony House’, it just feels like it’s okay to not know everything. There’s a lot of different angles to look at with the album as a whole, but I hope people just listen to it and feel good and confident. Confident in a different way though. Because, not discrediting any other artists, but a lot of music is very ego, like “I’m the best. Let’s go”. Although I do agree that people should have confidence, I think a very good way to have confidence sometimes is to actually forget about yourself and think about others, and so I try to somehow do that in my music.
As the industry loves to label new artists as soon as possible, do you feel pressure to continue being this positive outlet when in reality, no one can be always that upbeat?
Yeah, definitely. I’m figuring that out as time goes on. Thankfully all of Dayglow is a very personal thing and nobody’s like, “look happier in that photo”. Nobody’s telling me those kinds of things. I think everybody that’s working with me really understands who I am as a person and personally understands who I am, which is huge. I can’t imagine working with a label and them just knowing your brand, and not knowing who you are. That would suck. There’s definitely a pressure. But for me, I’m just making what I would want to make and being as honest as possible, and before I go and make happy music, or do an interview or anything in the nature of my artistic career, I make sure to check in with myself and make sure that I’m just being honest. Because it would be terrible to be acting happy. That would just be terrible. So, I just try to be as honest as possible with everything I do.
You’re also posting videos breaking down how you make your tracks. As someone who’s fully involved in creating all aspects of their music, is this just an opportunity for you to really nerd out on how you engineer your songs?
Probably yeah. I think the best way to explain it is, growing up and now, I just wish the artists that I love would do that! I just think it’s really fun and, to be honest, what I’ve realised is that a lot of artists couldn’t, because so many people were involved. So for me, I realised how special of an opportunity it was where I know everything about my music. I just want to explain it all because it’s fun and I don’t think it gets rid of the magic of it. It kind of shows more magic involved. You know, I don’t think it’s a thing that everyone would care about, but for the people that do I think it’s a really special thing. It’s been really cool getting messages from fans that are like, “what did you do on this vocal part?” and that’s just really fun.
You mentioned it earlier, but another exciting announcement coming with the new album is that you have a huge tour coming up. As you’ve been stuck inside, focusing on the creation process for what must have been quite a while, are you really looking forward to playing live again and just being able to let loose?
Yeah, it’s gonna be crazy! I’m really fascinated to see how shows are going to be. There’s two different ways it could go; people are gonna be timider, or people are gonna be insane. So, let’s just see how it goes. I’m just really excited. I’m really, really excited. It’s gonna be fun.
The tour also includes some dates in the UK for the first time. Do you have any expectations for this leg of the tour?
I’m stoked. I got to open for Hobo Johnson in the UK as a support. It was different and Hobo Johnson is super high energy music, which was really fun because the crowds were awesome. But to headline, I’m sure it’s gonna be very different and I’m really excited. I had an awesome experience in the UK, and everyone was so nice. It definitely is different, like, crowds react differently. But everyone’s awesome and I’m super excited.
Finally, just to wrap things up, what can fans, old or new, expect from the new music coming out and your live performances?
I would like to say that I’ve just gotten better at performing and making music. I guess I would say I’ve understood a little bit more about myself, and how I would naturally perform and make music. So I’m just feeling really good about it, really confident and excited to be playing shows. ‘Harmony House’; I put a lot of time and energy into and I’m excited for people to see that and see where I am now. Because ‘Fuzzybrain’ I’m not tired of it. I’m not like, “oh, screw Can I Call You Tonight?” or something. Because it’s awesome, I love the album. I think it’s weird seeing that people are discovering that version of me. Whereas now they kind of get an update on, “oh, this is what Sloan is like now”. So hopefully it’s well received but yeah, I’m feeling really confident and excited for this next chapter.
Amazing. Thank you so much for talking with me today. All the best with the album.
Thank you so much.