“Stories I Am Now Telling You” is being released against a post-COVID landscape that our community is still in the process of defining. What place do you this emotional collection occupying during these times?
I think Quiet Light fits in nicely with the heightened emotions of the time because the project is all about being vulnerable. I try my best to make songs that are really confessional and can offer some sense of comfort to the listener that there is someone who can encapsulate the way they are feeling in a song.
I do think it's important to also mention that Quiet Light only exists because I was really going through it during the beginning of COVID and I needed a distraction. I've put my entire heart into this project and I think it has been an excellent distraction that has given me some nice meaning in life.
The opening track on the EP, “Alight” is a grand song touching on friends leaving “the Lone Star state.” What was the inspiration behind the themes of this song and, specifically, the imagery of moving on from Texas?
"Alight" was the start of my confessional songwriting. I wrote the first Quiet Light EP in Spring 2020 when everything was getting shut down and today I feel very detached from these songs. "Some People Change" has got to be the vaguest song out there. Everybody changes. Those stories are not unique stories at all, there's no blood there. I remember Phoebe Bridgers' Punisher came out in June of 2020 and I was like. “Wow, this is really personal and I love it because she isn't holding anything back.” I wrote "Alight" that same month.
The themes in this song are unrequited love, deep friendship, sitting with someone and knowing that this is the place you are supposed to be, growing apart, wishing the best for someone, and people you love moving to California. I was deep in Joan Didion when I wrote this song and was really idealizing this idea of California in the 60s.
I'm close with my family and enjoyed growing up in my hometown of Coppell, TX. I had a really happy and archetypical experience growing up there. I was my high school's prom queen, worked hard in school, and had good friends. I have a lot of great memories of playing sand volleyball at Andy Brown Park, high school choir, and going to football games.
When I came to college I didn't feel nurtured as I did in my small town where literally everybody knew everyone. I struggled a lot to find myself in college and it wasn't really until I started this project that I started figuring out who I was. The song is also specifically about this guy who I went to high school with who came to college with me and we became totally different people. "Alight" is a really special song to me. Writing it really did change my life. That was a lot of information, I hope some of that made sense.
What was the recording process like and how was the apparent cohesion dialed in?
The recording process was super fun. I recorded demos for the album in November 2020 at my parents' house when I was there for Thanksgiving Break. I sent them to my friend Nico Fennell [Photokem] and he agreed to produce the EP for me. I went to Nico's house twice a week last summer and we just worked on the songs together. It was really great to have him help me out and he helped shape the Quiet Light sound. We have a lot of trust in each other musically and I think that makes for a fruitful artist-producer relationship. He understands me very well.
One of my favorite aspects to many of these songs is their gradual build. What starts stripped down and delicate can end in a whirlwind of layered vocals and instrumentation. These tracks end up mirroring that feeling of being overwhelmed by emotions. What role does this form play in your songwriting? Is it something that comes naturally to you, or is it a significant purpose to this collection?
I love music that makes you feel like you're floating. Dreamy folk music is my favorite music and always has been. Elliott Smith, Joni Mitchell, 60s folk-rock, these are forever inspirations for me.
I was listening to a lot of Skullcrusher, Hovvdy, and Caroline Polachek when we were making this and I think that really comes through. I multi-track all of my vocals because I love Elliott Smith and I grew up singing in choirs. I just love layering vocals on top of each other. I think the instrument I am best at playing is my voice so I try to be creative with that as much as I can.
I think that was the goal, I wanted to make a piercing dream folk EP, something quiet that cuts like a knife.
On “Blue Screen”, once again, there is a confrontation with the fear of losing someone close to you. This time it takes on an extra level of significance as it is the last track on the EP. The song ends with an exasperated delivery of the line, “you keep talking about moving.” In a time where Austin is experiencing unprecedented levels of change, what keeps you in Austin, Texas?
"Blue Screen" is a crazy song. I was terribly unhinged writing that one. I wrote it two years ago about my best friend and he knows it's about him. I think it's weird when you grow up with someone and you've been friends for a long time. We've both been through so much together and we've seen each other change. The weird thing about me and Vic is that we both changed in the same way. We were both really bookish hometown heroes and then came to college and became indie kids obsessed with art or whatever.
Sometimes I feel like a spectator in his life because of the internet and the fact that we only see each other like three times a year. I don't think the song is about being scared of losing him because I'm not scared of that. I just think that the song is about how it sucks that life goes on and you become an adult and you don't live less than a mile away from your friends anymore.
College is over now and I'm actually going to move out of Austin to the northeast. In a few months, I'm going to feel like a spectator in so many of my college friends' lives. It sucks that life is like this, but all good things must come to an end for more good things to begin. So I guess grad school is kicking me out of Austin, TX. But even if I wasn't going to school in the northeast I would still want to leave Austin because I associate it too much with college. I'm going to miss it a lot though.
Stories I Am Now Telling You [EP] by Quiet Light is out now.