Colourful optimist Dayglow has found his place on the world stage.
Words: Finlay Holden.
Sloan Struble exploded onto the scene with viral hits from debut Dayglow LP ‘Fuzzybrain’ and followed that up with a reflection of the spotlight on last year’s ‘Harmony House’. With a sense of stability finally secured, the Texas-based songwriter and producer is now cementing his identity as an artist.
A man usually happily confined to his bedroom-slash-studio back in Austin, Sloan was beginning to wonder if people still cared about his art beyond ‘Can I Call You Tonight?”s fifteen minutes of fame; a positive reaction to his second record and visible enjoyment through live shows has provided the affirming encouragement he unknowingly craved.
“I’m 23 years old and still figuring myself out. I’m still figuring out what I’m doing this all for,” he gently remarks. “I know I want to make music and feel like I was put here to make it, but I thought I didn’t like playing songs and was destined just to produce. I’ve only recently discovered that I love performing and touring. I’m an introvert, so it’s tiring and can definitely be hard, but I love it. I love providing an experience for people.”
Dayglow has now established a firm audience in the US, branched out to Australia and claims a euphoric main stage set at Reading & Leeds as his first UK festival performance, an achievement he doesn’t take lightly. “When I look up live videos of a band playing on YouTube, they’re always from British festivals, and this one specifically. The whole time I was playing, I was thinking, ‘maybe this’ll be on YouTube’,” he laughs. And who might Sloan be watching through the screen? “I’m always watching other bands to see how people translate their production to stage… at the moment, I love watching Sam Fender. He always has inspiring crowds because he is the quintessential dude right now.”
The two-time Dork cover star has a few fans over here, too. However, Dayglow is a very different artist to the Geordie superstar, choosing to shroud his identity in vibrant hues rather than embrace the essence of his roots. He’s not one invulnerable to the spotlight, though – 2021’s ‘Harmony House’ turned Sloan’s life into a make-believe reality show with himself as the central star, a concept birthed from the intimidating eye of the industry. Only now is he able to adjust to and reconcile with the attention his gleeful music has garnered.
“I clearly have so much more attention now than I did when I was making ‘Harmony House’ – I’m not in the middle of a viral moment, but I’m always growing,” Sloan says. “When releasing that last album, I didn’t know if anyone was going to listen to it. The spotlight felt really harsh and scary; I really felt that pressure. Now I’m performing way more and getting used to that feeling of a spotlight, but it’s different. It’s less frightening, and I know what to do now both when the spotlight is on me, as well as when it turns off.”
Part of that comes from being satisfied with how he is perceived as an artist. As an introvert, there was little chance that Dayglow was going to be the kind of artist pumping out social content and posing for photoshoots – he is much happier working away behind his computer, music production software open at all times. “‘Harmony House’ made people see me more as a songwriter and producer, and when that happens, it becomes easier to make changes with what you make,” he explains. “Tame Impala could release anything, and people would think it’s genius because, as a producer, he gives off the vibe that he’s always working up to something. I’ve always hoped for an ounce of that in my own fanbase so that I can have the freedom to make whatever I want.”
“I can’t help but make music, I really can’t”Sloan Struble
Although quick to assure us that he isn’t directly comparing himself to Kevin Parker, the scope of his production ambitions on third LP ‘People In Motion’ are certainly momentous, especially when compared with the charmingly lo-fi stylings of his smash-hit debut. “It’s funny, I’ve never intentionally done anything lo-fi or hi-fi,” Sloan rebuts to this observation. “I just didn’t know how to mix as well, so that’s where there was an upgrade for ‘Harmony House’ – ‘People In Motion’ is definitely another step up in production. I don’t have access to other studios and am still completely making it myself, but some people have already said, ‘I miss when Sloane used to make music by himself’ or ‘he’s sold out’ – if I can manage to sound like a studio all on my own, then that’s my goal achieved.”
The visuals for this new project also reflect a new step forward, with the bright but ominous artwork featuring a colourful, abstract prism against a desert backdrop. “There are a lot of ways to look at that,” the musician smirks. “I know it’s a really bold change, and I felt like that’s what this album was for me; a brand new chapter. The first two records were really personal as I was still figuring out who I was as an artist, and I feel like I was trying to explain who I was – with both a sculpture of my head, and then by putting myself at the centre of the frame. I’ve known since very early on that I wanted to call the album ‘People In Motion’ and at the same time, I knew I wanted to have a massive stagnant sculpture, which doesn’t make sense, because the title has nothing to do with the art. I spend the record unpacking the juxtaposition of that, and it makes sense in a strange way – in my mind, anyway.”
With two cuts out in the world already, the record is clearly not sonically stagnant by any means. Lead single ‘Then It All Goes Away’ is an upbeat purge of resentment that bounces along with the trademark Dayglow vigor. “It’s a conflict resolution song,” Sloan declares. “Feelings are the truest things in the world. You can’t change a feeling. You can change the circumstance of it, but the feeling is always real – but it doesn’t last forever. Eventually, feelings go away. Conflict fades in the same way, but it’s not instantaneous. This is a song about the joyous moment where a conflicted feeling finally goes away; you’re able to let go of any resentment.”
Taking a serious topic and tackling it with a positive mindset is hardly surprising, and this ethos continues with recent drop ‘Deep End’, which is about… well, being thrown in the deep end. Sloan remarks that, “the deep end usually has a negative connotation in songs, it’s seen as a sad thing, a dark sea, but this is a fun, happy song. There’s a lyric in the first verse: ‘I found out I never knew how to swim / it’s something that I was given’; that explained how I felt at the time. I’m such a workaholic and want to prove that I can do things, but so much of this career, I cannot over-attribute to how much the fans have done for me. I have such a conflict inside of me, and ‘Deep End’ is about finally letting go of all that and just enjoying the moment. Existing in the deep end I’ve been thrown into.”
It is true that the birth of Dayglow was something of a trial by fire for the man behind the music, with an album drop as he left for college quickly mutating into the beginnings of something unexpectedly huge. Now 23 years old, three records deep and relentlessly working on new material, Sloan isn’t one to take a pause and celebrate his success: “I think one day I will take a break, but I can’t help but make music, I really can’t. It’s totally natural to me. It’s such a paradox; the way that I relax is by going home and working in my studio, making music. It’s what I absolutely love to do.”
The joy of his process is clear, but he admits that he is still trying to figure out how to relax. “I’ve bought an Xbox and have TV shows that I want to watch, but I just can’t. I’ll watch ten minutes and then focus on a noise I heard in the background and jump straight back into logic. I’ve got to figure out what to do,” he resigns. “I like to exercise, but even then, that’s working. I’ve got a problem, man.”
Dayglow’s album ‘People In Motion’ is out now.