We are so used to hearing the term ‘commitment issues’ as pejorative, but what if it’s ok to want someone for a little while and nothing more? Colyer flips these commitment issues into commitment desires through his new single “Pet Names”.
“The song’s sentiment juxtaposes that longing for intimacy with a newfound cynicism—a belief that I was better off alone and nothing great could last forever.”
“Pet Names” is from Colyer’s debut album. After playing in bands throughout his life, the multi-instrumentalist felt the autonomy of a solo endeavor necessary to accurately portray the turbulent headspace from which he was writing. The diligence to task led to an evolved way of writing for the eponymous project, shaping a distinct sound that drifts between 60s soul and 90’s shoegaze.
“I feel most satisfied when I challenge myself to write the words and chords first, rather than just letting the sound shape the meaning.”
And be sure to listen till the end, as the song unexpectedly shifts, floating from one mirage into another the way dreams take new shapes in our minds/ These touches evince a production acumen that proves more distinct and attentive than most one-stop shops.
We caught up with Steven Colyer to learn more about his process, his favorite eats (shout out to Woon kitchen) and why we don’t need forever…
“Pet Names” speaks of wanting someone for a little while and nothing more. Can you elaborate on what brought you to that place?
So, I was in a pretty rough headspace writing most of this album. Coming out of a four-year relationship really had me despondent, but also focused on rediscovering myself. The song’s sentiment juxtaposes that longing for intimacy with a newfound cynicism—a belief that I was better off alone and nothing great could last forever.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process. What usually comes first? Lyrics, melody, production?
Honestly, it’s always changing. But for this album, I really wanted to strip back the process and write on acoustic before going in on the production. It’s easy to lose sight of what you want to say when you’re too focused on the vibe. I feel most satisfied when I challenge myself to write the words and chords first, rather than just letting the sound shape the meaning.
Do you find most of your musical endeavors have been on your own as the recordings of Colyer have been? Or did you collaborate for a time and found it unfitting to your process?
Growing up playing in bands, it was always difficult to fully express my own songwriting and production. Too many cooks on the kitchen, so to speak. Previous singles and releases I’ve done for this project have utilized amazing musicians in my community. However, for my debut album, I wanted to do it all myself. The themes of the record are really personal and I had a production style that I heard from the beginning of writing that I felt strongly about conveying. Still, I love collaborating with other artists, writers, producers and will continue to do so in the future.
I always appreciate when someone sprinkles a little magic to the last ten seconds of a song. Love how it switches gears at the end, as if floating from one mirage into another the way dreams take new shapes in our minds. What led to that idea? And what makes you excited about those kinds of details?
I love that phrase “dreams take new shapes.” That’s exactly it, really. It was important for me to make the album an experience that is best listened to from top to bottom. So, I focused on creating segues to explore how the mind works in relationship-recovery mode. You have more seamless transitions, as well as jarring and eerie ones. There are recurring melodies that kind of “haunt” the album itself, too. I’m such a sucker for those details in other artists’ bodies of work.
Coming out of a four year relationship into the Covid quarantine can suffer from a lack of distractions… what have you done to avoid hysteria and severe loneliness?
Haha yeah, let’s just say it wasn’t easy to meet anyone new in lockdown. I moved just before the pandemic, to west LA, and started biking to the ocean a lot. That became my escape—there’s something so nurturing about the sound and serenity of waves. I don’t think I’ll ever live far from a beach again in my life. Some more random things I did: went to Seattle to buy a vintage car and drove it back to LA, met a dream girl and moved in together, micro-dosed mushrooms a healthy amount, started stick-n-poke tattooing. 2020 was a wild, sad, and introspective year, but its character lent a special sort of assistance to me.
What can we expect from future Colyer recordings? Will you stay in this dreamy shoe-gaze world or is this just a dip into one of many Colyer frequencies?
It’s hard to say. I’m really excited about the sounds that shaped this album. I find it most interesting to bleed genres together in a unique way. There’s a compelling idea I have for my next batch of songs. But, whatever it sounds like, my stamp will be on it. I can promise you that.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Releasing the album, absolutely! I’ve worked on it for so long and am finally getting to share it. It’s a completely different type of satisfaction than making it. Also looking forward to going to Area 51, eating more Apollonia’s pizza and Woon, adopting a doge, and most importantly going to/playing SHOWS again.
CONNECT WITH COLYER
photos / Nas Bogado
story / Chris Hess