In January of 2021, around the darkest days of a global pandemic that had ground the world to a halt, Texas native Sloan Struble released “Close to You” under his band moniker of DAYGLOW.
In contrast to the general mood of that season, the song is a real shot of serotonin. It’s bright and fun, but it’s the sort of fun that comes from the mind of someone who knows how to take things seriously.
This sort of energy is important to Struble. He’s a self-made artist, writing, recording and producing all his own music from his bedroom.
He’s proud of his accomplishment, having cultivated a global fanbase on the strength of his breezy indie pop, but he’s also hoping that his music elevates the idea of what “breezy” can be.
For Struble, music can be all sorts of things: bright without being boring, fun without being flippant. He wants to boost the mood of his listeners with cheerful music, but he also wants to prove that his vision is legitimate.
He opened up to us about staying true to his vision and making music for himself.
How are you feeling about touring?
It is definitely exhausting, but I think I like it, yeah. I definitely prefer being on the road, playing the music more than not playing it. It’s nice to have a break every once in a while, but for me, making music is all about playing the shows.
How do you think about the sound of your music?
It’s interesting. I write and produce and record all of my music myself, and I’m a huge gear nerd and making sure that the way in which I record can be played live. All of my bandmates are just my friends, and all the instruments they’re playing are from my studio.
So, I definitely think when recording it, how I can make it portable.With this album specifically coming out in October, it definitely sounds big and live and I’ve thought through in intricate ways how we’re going to play it live.
When did you realized you wanted to do this full time?
When I was 10 years old, my cousin introduced me to Garageband. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with making music, pretty much daily. I’m 23 now, so it’s been quite some time that I’ve been recording music, but it’s something I’ve always been obsessed with.
You can never predict whether or not you are for sure going to have a career in music. It’s just one of those tricky things. But it’s always been my dream. I just really naturally continually make music.
So, it feels like it’s something I was made to do. And thankfully I get to do what I feel like I was made to because it’s not the case for everybody.
Do you choose to make all of your music sound upbeat and positive, or is that a happy accident?
Rather than saying it’s a choice, I think I’d say I’m just aware of it. I’m self-aware that it’s definitely happy music, but it’s naturally what I make. When I sit down to make music, I think it’s therapeutic for me and I try to make songs that melodically lifts you up.
That’s just one of the most mysterious things about music, is that melody can evoke emotion and even how things are produced and mixed matter. It’s weird! So I, as an artist, feel like I would rather express and explore those emotions than the alternative.
There’s a time and place for everything. I listen to sad music sometimes. But for what I make, I like to make music that lifts people up and makes them want to dance.
Some argue that happy music is kid’s stuff, but you disagree?
Yeah. It’s treacherous territory to make serious optimistic music because it’s just almost always seen as an ignorant thing, but this is something I wanted to try with DAYGLOW. I wanted my music to both be really fun and be taken seriously.
Do you think you’ve been successful?
I think so. DAYGLOW shows seem to be very therapeutic for a lot of people. And that context is great for me.
I didn’t really get a lot of touring experience prior to the pandemic. I made my first two records before the end of
the pandemic. So, I’m been touring for, I guess, a year now. I now have the context of what people want a DAYGLOW show to be like and what they’re looking for.
And it’s just really good to have that context. So, People In Motion, my next record comes out of that context and knowing what this world that I have accidentally created is.
So you feel like you understand the landscape a little more.
Did you do your new album entirely on your own too?
Yep. I recorded it and produced it and wrote it by myself, still in a bedroom. And then I mixed it and I had it, after I mixed it, basically polish mixed co-mixed by a guy named Rich Costey, who’s done Muse stuff and some Vampire Weekend things. He’s someone I’ve really looked up to for a while, so it was fun getting to look through the album with him and get his stamp of approval. It’s been fun.
My goal with my music is to just get better at what I do from a production aspect. I’m a huge production nerd.
And this album specifically, I’ve been told that I have sold out because I have access to studios now and I’m working with other people. Which is a nice accidental compliment actually, because I’m not doing that. So, clearly I must be making better music.
You got so good that people think you’re faking it?
Yeah! It’s a fun situation to be in.
Would you want to work with someone else in a studio if possible?
What I love about all of it is recording and making music. It’s what I do definitely most naturally and where I find the most joy in this whole thing. I think that transparency and honesty is just hard to come by nowadays. So, I want to be an artist that’s truly doing it myself.
Why did you decide to create your next album on your own?
It’s just fun to follow along the journey and progression of seeing me grow and seeing the changes that I make. It’s more fascinating for someone to watch a new album come out, knowing that it’s solely from one person.
And for me, definitely, it’s really nice to have an unfiltered version of my vision. I have a really strong vision for what an album’s going to be like. And you just don’t have to compromise when you work alone.
There’s pros and cons of having a team and right about now in the cycle of doing things, I’m like, “Man, it’d be really nice to have a team of people.” But it’s really special to have something be made so solo.
That sounds rewarding, but scary. There’s nobody to hide behind.
It’s really rewarding. I haven’t compromised anything. I really am still making the music in my bedroom. It’s not a marketing tactic or a brand angle. I really, truly am alone most of the time doing this thing. It’s cool that so many people care. It just blows my mind.
Did the affirmation of others push you to make music?
I don’t know what other job I could do. I went to the University of Texas for advertising, so I was a freshman at the university trying to be an advertising student. You know, I actually released Fuzzybrain, my first album, from my dorm room. I finished a year of college, but it got hard towards the end and I dropped out. I’m sure I could have done some form of marketing thing or something, but probably-
It wasn’t for you.
Yeah. Well, I wanted to be in marketing to get into the music industry and do something with music. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s just weird when what you want to do happens and your life changes.
Is working in the industry what you thought it would be?
It’s so hard to look back and remember things, especially when everything happens so fast. I wonder if when I’m 50 or something, I’ll be able to look back and remember, because I definitely don’t now. Maybe that I’ll be able to be like, “Oh yeah, that’s what I thought.”
But it’s just been so smooth for the most part. There have some hard times, when you’re young and all this is happening so quick, but yeah. I think I’ve just always been confident in what I created.
My reason for making things is I’m just always trying to have fun and make music and not worry about the algorithm, or worry about selling it, or getting with this label and doing this thing. It’s always just about having fun and making music.
So, it’s still the same thing that I was doing. More people care now, which is really cool. But to be fair, I’m really not making the music for them. I’m just doing it for fun. The process hasn’t really changed, but the scope of things …I never would’ve thought it would’ve been this big.
Are you committed to staying independent even as you grow?
Sure. That’s definitely a challenge. I would like to say that I can continue to make music by myself. I make music in my downtime. I think I can manage it. I’m surrounded by good people and I have a good team helping me and I like it now.
So, we’ll figure it out as it comes.