A conversation with Sloan Struble on Fuzzybrain, bedroom pop, and BuC-ee’s
Written and Photographed by: Mica Kendall
Releasing his debut album, Fuzzybrain, only a year ago frontman, Sloan Struble, of Dayglow has accumulated a plethora of Spotify streams and an exponential large following of fans all within his first year of college at The University of Texas Austin. With his music video for his fan favorite hit, “Can I Call You Tonight?” at a growing viewership count of 4.7 million, Struble’s success could be characterized as overwhelming but more importantly well justified. Fuzzybrain as a whole is more than just your typical bedroom pop culmination of catchy lyrics and an infectious synth beat; the album contains a genuine sense of honest lyricalism and one could say Struble is wise beyond his 19 years. Prior to his show with Ginger Root at Stubbs Barbeque in Austin, Texas, I sat down with Sloan and discussed the various themes prevalent on Fuzzybrain, his newfound friendship with Chase Lawrence from COIN, and his hot take on Texas stereotypes.
Mica Kendall: In a previous interview I read how you talked about how your hometown in Aledo was not necessarily the most creative environment to grow up in, which reminded me of my suburb in Texas as well where it just feels like you’re growing up in a suburbia bubble. Since you’ve been making music for multiple years now, what inspired you to start creating and producing your own music amidst the environment you grew up in?
Sloan Struble: My environment definitely didn’t influence me, which is kind of encouraging creatively because my uncle is someone I looked up to a lot. He’s like an animator and creates stuff, so he was a role model for me growing up in a creative sense. Something he told me was like to know what you’re passionate about and to know what you really care about or the things in your life that nobody told you to do. So like for me, music, nobody was ever like “you know what you should really care about playing the guitar” or “you should care about songwriting” because nobody around me was really like talking about music or going to shows. There’s not even venues near Aledo the only shows I could go to were in Dallas, which is like an hour away. So I think that encouraged me to know that I just personally care about music for some reason. I think it's something I’ve been designed to like.
MK: Did you grow up with any specific band inspirations as a kid?
SS: I kind of cringe now thinking about it, but Owl City was like huge to me. When I started producing, it was like Owl City, Relient K, the Christian indie bands. Obviously my music taste has changed a little bit. I mean every once and awhile I can jam to “Fireflies.” I grew up just listening to like basic indie alternative music. My dad is really into James Taylor. I grew up with kind of a cold shoulder towards James Taylor because I was like that’s what my dad listens to and I’m not super into it, but now I love James Taylor. I love that 70’s era like James Taylor, The Carpenters, Paul Simon.
MK: With your song “Can I Call You Tonight?” reaching millions of streams so quickly primarily through Spotify’s algorithm since its release last year (currently at 14 million), I feel like this song really categorized you into the whole bedroom pop sphere. Which includes artists like Gus Dapperton, Cuco, Boy Pablo, Clairo, etc. I’m also pretty sure “CICYT?” is on Spotify’s Bedroom Pop playlist. I’m just curious on what your take is on bedroom pop because I feel like especially last year bedroom pop became this really up and coming genre with all those artists. Also would you categorize your sound with Dayglow into that genre?
SS: It totally makes sense considering that I’m young and I made these pop songs in my bedroom, but I think I’m more attracted to the fact that it’s DIY. I love making my own stuff, but I kind of would like to get past the bedroom pop barrier. Not that there’s anything wrong with it because I’ve listened to all of those artists. Love what they are doing, but I want my music to feel like DIY and like personal and I still want to produce and make stuff in my house, but there’s just kind of a lot of cliches that follow the bedroom pop sticker. It is kind of strange because the rest of the album doesn’t really fit with bedroom pop, but it totally makes sense and I understand why it’s on those playlists.
MK: Continuing off of “Can I Call You Tonight?,” I see you made the music video completely on your own with royalty free green screen effects. Personally the music video to me gives me an 80’s infomercial vibes and really showcases your personality within the music video. Can we expect another completely handmade music video off of Fuzzybrain in the future? Also did you make the sims in the video?
SS: That was an effect. I was looking up weird searches on Youtube in order to get those things because I wanted two people talking, but I was like “man and woman in argument green screen effect” and I felt very strange googling that, but it worked. I actually filmed a music video in Austin with a guy named Adam Kingman who is a mutual friend of mine and he’s so unbelievably creative, so I met with him and wanted to make a music video. Because I had seen he had made this suit out of like 4,000 uninflated balloons and it’s just like this thing that flows and you dance around and I wanted to do stuff like that. So we wrote out a music video and got a bunch of my friends to be in it. (Watch the “Hot Rod” music video here). It definitely has more of a story than “Can I Call You Tonight?” and there’s more production put into it, but it still feels DIY. We recorded it on a green screen in his backyard and just drove around his neighborhood and bought all these things at Target. It still feels fun and handmade which I love.
MK: So my perception with FuzzyBrain is how a fundamental theme or concept is how change is inevitable and what it is like to deal with change. I know you tried to put this album out before you got to college, which is a huge change in itself with your whole transition from your high school in Aledo to moving to Austin, but you also were dealing with the change of how fast your music was gaining popularity. I also know you got to open for bands like Misterwaves and played SXSW. How did you manage with all this musical attention during your first year of college, while also balancing your life as a college student?
SS: It was a crazy year to sum it up. I’m actually not going back to school, so I’ll be in Austin just doing music full time. I was balancing school and music all throughout last year and it was a ton of change, which change is like something I’m open to and I think people should be open to, but it's always confusing. It just felt like every week was a year and everyday big things were happening and that’s just like a weird place to be in. I couldn’t process stuff that was going on.
MK: Also weren’t you self managing yourself at the time as well?
SS: I was and I just recently got 2 managers. Awesome guys. But yeah I was responding to emails and it just felt crazy. And I didn’t expect it to happen like that and I was doing it and it was just weird really weird. But rewarding to see these songs take off because I didn’t expect them to.
MK: Did your first SXSW experience go well?
SS: Yeah I mean SXSW itself is just whacky, but it was so fun.
MK: Because every artist I talk to about SXSW has mixed opinions and either really likes SXSW or really hates it.
SS: It is very exhausting, but it was fun. It’s fun to say we did it and got to meet some people.
MK: Since you started Dayglow by yourself before you got to college, did you acquire your current band members in the band during your time in college?
SS: So everybody in the band are friends from college that I just met from asking around like “hey do you know anybody that plays keyboard?” Just like mutual friends and we’ve gotten super tight and they’re a really good group of guys.
MK: I don’t know if this is still true, but the last interview article I read of yours your favorite song off of the album is “Fair Game.” My interpretation of “Fair Game” is that the song is very much about your self consciousness and feeling not good enough for someone else. Lyrically as a whole for Fuzzybrain would you say the lyrical meaning of the album is a culmination of your thoughts and feelings from highschool and college? Or on more introspective level that goes beyond your own personal experiences and focuses on the future as a whole? Essentially what catalyzed your songwriting process.
SS: I would sum up the themes of Fuzzybrain to kind of just be about insecurity that I just dealt with throughout highschool. A lot of isolationism I guess creatively, but also like literally I just spent a lot of days in my room writing instead of hanging out with people and also just change, so change can be in tons of different ways. But I think those 3 central themes are for the most part in every song somewhere. It’s crazy too because the stuff I’m writing now is the same stuff like the same theme because I’ve been through a whole another year of completely different change.
MK: I don’t know if you can really say anything, but I just noticed on Chase Lawrence from COIN’s Instagram story and yours that you guys were working together in a studio, so I was wondering if we could expect a future COIN and Dayglow collab?
SS: We are doing a tour, but we were just writing together. That was the first time we met each other, so we were just hanging out writing. It went really well. We write in really similar ways like multically it was weird, but it was fun.
Quick Round Questions
MK: So I’m only doing this because you’re a fellow Texan so I just want to get a yay or nay on your takes of these Texas stereotypes.
SS: A yee or a haw.
MK: Yes exactly, so firstly Buc-ees: yay or nay?
SS: I would say yay. I tend to always stop there when I’m driving between Dallas and Austin. I mean it's a weird place it's kind of fun to people watch.
MK: Cowboy aesthetic?
SS: I would say yay. I love it.
MK: Honky tonk dancing like Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth that type of vibe.
SS: Personally nay, I’m not the type of person who wants to go two stepping like you know if that’s someone’s thing I’m not going to be against it, but if someone was like “lets go two step,” I would be like “no.”
MK: BBQ because we are at Stubbs BBQ currently.
SS: I’m kind of just in the middle. I’ve never been crazy about bbq. I’ve had good bbq, but I’ve been to places where people are like this is weak and I just don’t get it.
MK: Lastly, the emphasis of highschool football in Texas in homage to “Junior Varsity” on your album.
SS: Nay, I don’t like the pressure of it.
Catch Dayglow on his fall tour supporting COIN this month starting in St Louis, Missouri on October 22nd. Also don’t miss out on seeing Dayglow only at Weekend 2 of Austin City Limits on Saturday, October 12th at the BMI stage. Sloan signed a Fuzzybrain vinyl and Dayglow t-shirt where all proceeds will go directly to Mission Of Hope. Mission of Hope is a nonprofit organization based in in Cedar Park, Texas that provides meals, education, homes, clean water, healthcare, mobile clinics, religious and agricultural services, and more to families in need in Haiti. Click here to purchase the exclusive signed Dayglow bundle. Also read our album review on Fuzzybrain here.