From playing a poorly received rendition of B.O.B’s ‘Magic’ to global success, it has been nothing less of a crazy ride during the rise of self-made artist, Dayglow. The name fits the bill perfectly – his music sounds like a crisp sun-soaked day. Combining the perfect amount of indie pop and indie rock, his summer’s day soundtrack is filled with an infectious sense of joy.
Born and raised in the small Texan town of Aledo, Dayglow is the moniker of 21 year old Sloan Struble. Despite living in Austin Texas, known for its diverse and exceptional music scene, Aldeo was obsessed with American football – resulting in a very non-existent music scene around Sloan. While it could have been easy to never consider a career in music while living in this town, Sloan took it in his stride and the scarcity of a proper music scene, plus a little help from YouTube, allowed him to create a unique sound, all influenced organically by the music Sloan discovered on his own – “it is a sound that I am very proud of” Sloan says. The very first time Sloan performed was in his fifth grade talent show. After recently learning to play the guitar, Sloan and his friend decided to enter. The pair wanted to play ‘Magic’ by B.O.B, featuring the lead vocalist and guitarist of Weezer… an interesting collaboration to say the least. “I was supposed to rap the first verse and he was supposed to rap the second verse…” Sloan tells me – “and we never really talked about the chorus because it required singing, so I nervously said “oh yeah I’ll do it…!” and then we went to rehearse one day, and my friend said “your voice is kind of weird” so I didn’t sing for like… three or four years after that…” instilling a stage fright in Sloan. “Later on I got over it, but that was the first time I ever performed vulnerably in front of anyone, and of all songs it was ‘Magic’ by B.O.B., and it wasn’t received well.” And although the talent show cover was a flop, he’s gone out of his way to prove that he in fact does have the magic in him, and will be performing on much grander stages than in a high-school auditorium.
Since then, Dayglow has released two phenomenal albums. His first album ‘Fuzzybrain’ still gains critical acclaim even though it was released four years ago, and has become a staple album for indie fans. More recently in May, Dayglow released his newest album ‘Harmony House’ – a rich blend of the recognisable sounds of Dayglow we all love, plus the sweet elements of 70’s and 80’s pop - inspired by the top charting songs of that time. One reason behind the magic found in Dayglow’s music is his solo approach to his work. The album was entirely mixed and recorded solo by Sloan himself. His friend had a garden shed that wasn’t being used, so Sloan rigged up the electricity and insulated it, turning it into a makeshift studio to record the album in. The rest of the album was recorded and then mixed in Sloan’s bedroom studio. The album shows Sloan maturing, not only sonically – but maturing as he opens up optimistically and honestly about his relationship to the music, his career, and his fame. Dayglow is steadily on his way to standing side by side with many of his own “indie giant” idols.
“Fame is nothing, what matters is what you do with it”
Tell me a little about the beginning of Dayglow.
I started making music really, really young. I’m twenty-one now, but my cousin showed me garage band when I was ten years old. I got obsessed with making and producing music. I kind of viewed it like a video game… other kids were playing Call of Duty and I was on garage band. Fast-forward a bunch of years, and I go through lots of different musical phases and production styles, just kind of figuring things out from YouTube. In my junior year of high school, which is like sixteen to seventeen, I came up with the idea of Dayglow. It was the concept of making and producing music that would later be played live by a five piece band. I’d been doing shows for a little bit, just in people’s backyards… but I hated playing alone… I also didn’t want to make music with other people because I’m really picky about making music. So Dayglow is just the Kevin Parker style, and making music on my own.
What music did you grow up listening to?
I grew up in a small town of Texas called Aledo. I’m sure you have your own stereotypical ideas in your head about what a classic Texas town is like… and I grew up in one of those towns. It was a really small town, everybody just loved football, Friday night lights was basically about the town I was from. We won the state-wide high school tournament for like… eight years in a row. So football was very much the thing… I wasn’t really into that at all. So I didn’t really grow up with any music scene around me, which is actually a great part of my story because it helped me develop a sound that is unique to me, and one that I’m really proud of. I didn’t have anybody doing the same thing and forming bands. I feel like when that happens and everyone is forming bands, you just form the same band. I was just on my own with the help of YouTube. I went through a lot of different discovery phases growing up. My dad listened to a lot of James Taylor which is what I love now, but it wasn’t a situation where he was always playing music. I’ve had to just find it on my own. I went through a weird dubstep phase in middle school… I loved deep cut dubstep stuff… I guess I got into indie music around the same time I started Dayglow. Bands like Phoenix, MGMT, and Two Door Cinema Club… the indie monsters.
Do you remember the first music that really spoke to you? The music that was foundational for you?
I kind of draw from two different backgrounds, that’s the way I try to view it. So, in early high school where I really started loving music, I was listening to a lot of Conner Oberst, Bright Eyes – she wasn’t around yet, but Phoebe Bridgers-type music, a lot of folk songwriter music. A lot of that is very lyrically heavy, it describes emotion well lyrically, and I wrote a lot of that type of music before I learnt to produce. Connor Oberst was one of the first musicians I really loved, and I really paid attention to everything that he did as an artist. It is interesting because we are polar opposite types of artists. On the other hand, I remember hearing Tame Impala’s ‘Currents’ for the first time and being blown away by how cool it was. There’s kind of these two different polar moments that brought together my love for music. Other than that, it’s kind of the same for everyone I presume… around fifteen and sixteen it just clicks in your brain when music is awesome.
“I didn’t grow up with any music scene around me, which is actually great because it helped me develop a sound that is unique to me, and one that I’m really proud of”
How has your sound evolved from ‘Fuzzybrain’ to ‘Harmony House’
The general change from Fuzzybrain to Harmony House would be that it is a lot more mature. I made Fuzzybrain when I was seventeen & eighteen, so in “Can I Call You Tonight?” I’m actually seventeen in the recording. I’m super, super thankful for the song… I definitely view it as something separate because I was seventeen… so it is a little weird to know that people are discovering me through that. My inspiration and sound has evolved really naturally because I’m still just growing up as a person, and still figuring out bands that I like. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Yacht-rock and 70’s & 80’s pop music, like James Taylor, Michael Mcdonald, and The Carpenters, just all of those artists from the 70’s and 80’s pop charts is what I’ve really been fascinated by. Pretty naturally you are what you listen to, so I’ve been writing music that sounds like that, because I just think it’s more fun. That is what’s crazy about the internet, old stuff has the potential to be new, and so for me all the new music I’ve been new music I’ve been finding is actually really old, and so I’ve been putting that energy from that time into my record.
What kind of headspace were you in while you were making the record?
I’ve been in a few different head spaces so that’s kind of the cool thing about Harmony House is that is it spans over quite a lot of time, which is really special and I hope that people listening to it can recognise that. I think Fuzzybrain was initially about waiting for change to happen, getting excited and anxious about what change could look like in the future. I am obsessed with time and change. I think that’s universal, everyone can relate to that. And so for ‘Harmony House’ it’s really dealing with the sudden change, and the viral fame I‘ve had, dealing with growing up really quickly because there was nobody else in my life I could relate to. Not in an ego way, where I’m like “oh I’m better than you…” just living a different life. I’ll never forget one time, I was coming back to my college dorm from a thirty day tour, and I walked into the room of ten other guys that I lived with, and they were all sitting there playing ‘Call of Duty’, just being college students, and I was thinking how we are just living different lives. I’ll never forget the moment that it clicked. I’ve been through a lot of change, and I think on ‘Harmony House’ I try addressing that in the most honest way possible, with optimism.
What are you most looking forward to right now?
Honestly I just can’t wait to play shows; I’m so excited to play music again! I think that’ll be a really big emotional moment for me and to see it in front of my eyes.
As you become better known, are your feelings around sharing personal experiences changing?
That’s a really good question… I’ve been trying to figure that out. I’m an introverted person, a lot of people wouldn’t assume that and I think that’s the natural assumption with a performer of any sort, but I’m really introverted and I’m a really private person. And so it’s an odd thing to write about my life and to get personal on my songs. I’m just realising and I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to be an artist and at my responsibility as an artist is, and I’m starting to realise that it really matters what I do, because I’m still a normal dude, but for some reason I have a lot of attention on me. It’s not at the level of Billie Eilish where I can’t go the store or anything,, but at least on the internet I have all this attention and a lot of people care about what I have to say, and that’s a weird new thing I’ve been figuring out how to deal with.
What is the best advice you ever received?
There is this quote from a Mr Rodger’s acceptance speech that really impacted me… he pretty much said “Fame is just a four letter word, just like tape or zoom, or any other four letter word. Fame is nothing, what matters is what you do with it” and I think that’s really important to realise that as an artist, it really matters what I’m saying in my songs, especially if I’m being personal and helping people process their emotions through my music. That is definitely one piece of advice that has stuck with me for a long time now.
Listen to Dayglow's latest album, 'Harmony House' on Spotify below:
Dayglow is featured in Tenner Magazine's 'Discover' issue - available to pre-order now!
Words by Oli Spencer
Photography by Oli Spencer, shot over FaceTime