Kacey Musgraves Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz shocked and horrified America when news broke that in the midst of a terrible power outage and winter storm in Texas, the state he represents, he dipped out for Cancún.

Now, fellow Texan Kacey Musgraves has found a unique way to support her home state. Musgraves has been selling shirts reading ""CRUZIN' FOR A BRUZIN'" on her website for $29.99 a pop, with each shirt's profits donated to aid effort for Texans affected by the storm.

"All proceeds will directly support Texans affected by the storm and also to homeless immigrants seeking shelter and food," Musgraves wrote. Shirts can be purchased here.

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Culture Feature

Cute: Ted Cruz Blames His Children For His Trip to Mexico During Deadly Texas Storms

So, we agree? You should be able to flee your home country during a crisis?

In case you've been living under a rock — or, just somewhere other than Texas — the Lone Star State has been suffering brutal winter weather this week, leaving millions without electricity or water.

And leave it to none other than Senator Ted Cruz to rub his privilege and ignorance in the faces of the citizens he's supposed to represent. Just over a month after his pathetic electoral vote speech on January 6, Cruz has made another infamous move by fleeing his home state and joining his daughters on a trip to Cancun, Mexico.

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MUSIC

Interview: Dayglow Makes Sugary DIY Earworms—Just Don't Call It Bedroom Pop

Sloan Struble of Dayglow talks to Popdust about growing up in small-town Texas, selling out a tour that got canceled, and the viral success of his single "Can I Call You Tonight?"

Nick Wong

Things haven't really gone according to plan lately for Sloan Struble.

The 20-year-old singer-songwriter-producer is calling me from Aledo, Texas, a 5,000-person town just west of Fort Worth. Not too long ago, Struble was an advertising student at the University of Texas at Austin. After his song "Can I Call You Tonight?" went viral, he left school to pursue his indie-pop project, Dayglow, full-time. But things took an unfortunate turn when—as with just about every active artist you can think of right now—Dayglow's sold-out tour scheduled to begin this spring was canceled due to the worldwide health concerns. So Struble packed his things and headed to his childhood home, the same place where he self-recorded his debut album, Fuzzybrain, which is out now.

"I'll definitely look back at this past year and think, what the heck happened?" Struble tells me with palpable disbelief, referring to both the current pandemic (which prevented this interview from happening in-person) and his rapid rise to indie notoriety. To Struble, a job in advertising was a tolerable back-up plan—maybe he'd make commercials or music videos—but after his cousin showed him the magic of GarageBand when he was ten years old, a career in music was his main goal.

"I've always definitely wanted to do this," Struble says. "But it felt really out of reach. So I felt like once it was really obvious that I was not going to do advertising and be a musician instead, that's when I would do it."

Dayglow - Can I Call You Tonight? (Official Video) www.youtube.com


With mentions in a handful of local blogs, a shoutout from Gen-Z tastemaker Emma Chamberlain, and an album reissue on innovative record label AWAL, a path in music was undeniable for Struble. Below, he tells Popdust about those revelatory moments, how Fuzzybrain came together, and the future of Dayglow.

Obviously, Austin is known for its music scene. How did living there shape the way you make music?

I actually moved to Austin about a year and a half ago for school at UT. There's really not much of an artistic scene here [in Aledo]. It's kind of, like, Friday Night Lights-ish, where football is the thing that everybody does. So I kind of felt creatively isolated while I was growing up. I spent most of my time just seeing what people were doing with music via the Internet, and not really from anybody who was actually around me, which would have been the case in Austin.

Which artists in particular inspired you while making Fuzzybrain?

I was really trying to lean into, like, 2009 to 2011 big indie pop names. I thought that was a great era that went by really quick. Phoenix, I still love a lot, but I was really into Phoenix while making the record. Passion Pit a little bit, too.

Tell me about how "Can I Call You Tonight?" started going viral.

I was going to be an advertising student in school, so I can't help but think about advertising and marketing tying in with music, because that definitely is a part of being an artist, for better or worse. I was very careful in the way that I presented it, but I didn't do too much in terms of promoting it. I just kind of had faith that if I just let it go and the timing was right, then it would kind of just fit into that pocket of YouTube and Spotify. I emailed a couple of small blogs. There was one in particular called Honey Punch, who is awesome—it's run by two sisters. I sent them an email, and I was like, "Hey, I have this song, I feel like you might like it." And they posted about it. At the time, I didn't have any related artists on Spotify, but because they wrote about it at the right time, all of my related artists afterwards were COIN and other big indie names right now. I think all of that somehow got it into the algorithm—it sounds kind of like the matrix when I'm like, it's in this algorithm!—but yeah, I feel really, really blessed. I mean, I don't want to discredit my hard work because obviously I spent a lot of time working on it, but I also feel really lucky that it just worked, you know?

So what was the timeline of all of this?

I think I put "Can I Call You Tonight?" out on Spotify in late January 2018, and then I made the music video a couple months later. And then those, hand-in-hand, started growing. It's been seriously pretty mind-blowing, because it blows up more each day. It's reacting a lot stronger now than it did initially, and it's almost two years old. So it's pretty cool that it's still growing and seems like it still has a lot of room to grow, which is really exciting.

Dayglow - Listerine (Official Video) www.youtube.com


You'd be on tour right now if it weren't for everything going on, and I know a lot of independent artists are taking a huge hit because of it. How are you coping, and how can fans help their favorite artists in lieu of tours?

I really, really love playing shows, and I think a very big part of why I want to do music is so I can be on stage and perform. But thankfully for me, most of the money I'm making right now is from streaming. Touring is new for me, so personally, I'm not necessarily taking a huge financial hit, but I know a lot of other people are, and my bandmates are. I think it's been pretty encouraging how the first question everyone's asking is "how can we help you?" I think that's pretty awesome that everybody's concerned about artists, and that makes me feel good. But buying merch [helps]. People are probably listening to a lot more music now that they have the time at home, so just keep listening to music. Hopefully this ends soon, and I can go on tour again, so come to those shows!

You originally self-released Fuzzybrain and recorded and performed everything yourself. Why did you go that route?

Since a very young age, I always thought it'd be really cool to be in a band, but I didn't grow up in a place where a lot of people had that same idea. I was making music on GarageBand, and I kind of reached the point where I had used all of the loops GarageBand had available. So I was like, "If I want to make music, I have to know how to play these other instruments," because I didn't really know anybody else that wanted to. So I taught myself the bare minimum of each instrument, and over time, I've just gotten better at each of them. But yeah, it just came from a very personal passion. It's just something I love to do and I love being in creative control.

You get associated with a lot of "bedroom pop" artists, which of course is a very literal descriptor in your case. I remember around the time that Clairo's first EP came out, she said she felt limited by the "bedroom pop" label. How do you feel about that term?

It's hard to address, because bedroom pop is a very specific sound, I think. And I just really don't sound like it, in my opinion. I know I'm young and making music in my bedroom, but I definitely don't think I associate with the bedroom pop scene. It totally makes sense why I've been placed in it, but I think recently, people have kind of realized that I don't really fit into that. I still want people to know I'm really creatively involved in DIY, but I also feel like bedroom pop a lot of times is made to be played in a bedroom, you know? It's mood music, or for when you're chilling out—I want my songs to be festival songs. But that's interesting that Clairo said that. And now she's playing shows with MGMT and Tame Impala! I'm so jealous.

That's a good segue into my next question, because you have a song seemingly about wanting to run the world ("Run the World!!!"). Is there any truth in that?

[Laughs] It's very sarcastic. I mean, I think I'm a fairly levelheaded and humble person when people get to know me. I obviously put that song out without knowing so many people were gonna hear it. It's a song that I knew people close to me were going to hear and immediately laugh. But now it's strange, because people who have no idea who I am hear it, and I'm like, "Do they actually think I think that?" But I think it's always fun to be ironic and sarcastic with music because I want to be optimistic and show people that I'm having fun with what I'm doing. But in order for the optimism to not be ignorant, I think you have to address things like [narcissism and pessimism]. I think it's fun to poke fun at things without being mean.

How have you been adjusting to people who don't know you listening to your music, and making assumptions of you based on your art?

It's really strange, if I'm being honest. I think it's incredible that more people are listening, but nothing can really prepare you for it. At the end of the day, I'm just a person, but it's a really weird thing when most of the people who know who you are only view you as an artist. It's taken me a while to view myself as a person who makes art. It's an incredible opportunity, but it's definitely a weird transition.

Where do you see your career headed?

I have no idea. That's the thing—I wish I could get my mind to think of something [regarding the future], but everything so far has just blown my mind so much that I can't set goals. I want things to keep going the way they are. I hope people are still listening and I'm still making things that I'm proud of. And I guess that's all I can try to do.

What's been your favorite memory over the past year or so?

Everything's so wild right now. I mean, I guess the most iconic thing is that I had a completely sold out tour that didn't exist. It's kind of funny, but obviously terrible. But I played Austin City Limits last fall, which was the biggest click of, like, "This is crazy!" That was a really big moment for me.

Dayglow - Hot Rod (Official Video) www.youtube.com

MUSIC

Leon Bridges and Khruangbin: Texas's Sun-Drenched Dream Team

Bridges and Khruangbin invite you to soak up the Texas sun.

There's something particularly satisfying about seeing incredibly talented artists collaborate with each other.

Today, an unexpected but beautiful collaboration entered soundwaves when Leon Bridges and Khruangbin announced their forthcoming joint EP and dropped their first single.

Khruangbin is a group inspired by '60s and '70s Thai rock, borrowing from psychedelia, funk, surf rock, and Zouk, Indian, and Middle Eastern music. Leon Bridges is a soul singer-songwriter who also draws from '50s and '60s styles, but the two artist's music is most similar in terms of its emotional resonance and peaceful, expansive atmosphere.

Leon Bridges - River (Video) www.youtube.com


Khruangbin - Cómo Te Quiero (Official Video) www.youtube.com

They're also tied together by shared roots: Both groups are from Texas, which might explain their connection. There's no question that their forthcoming EP's lead single—called "Texas Sun"—is inspired by their homeland.

Cinematic and distinctly evocative of the desert landscape, "Texas Sun" feels like it could easily soundtrack the next dreamy Western or Americana masterpiece. Centering Bridges' weather-worn voice and Khruangbin's distinct beachy, reverb-soaked guitars, it's a masterful melding of talents.

Their EP, also called Texas Sun, will be released on February 7th, via Dead Oceans and Columbia Records. It will consist of four tracks, "Texas Sun," "Midnight," "C-Side," and "Conversion."

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges - Texas Sun (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

MUSIC

A Frank Conversation with RF Shannon

Americana singer/songwriter Shane Renfro sat down with Popdust to talk about his new album, his grandfather, and how RF Shannon has changed over the years.

Jess Williamson

"I'm just trying to live simply, spend less money, and give space for my music to come from a fundamentally grounded place," says Shane Renfro, otherwise known as psychedelic Americana virtuoso RF Shannon

RF Shannon - Angeline (Live in KUTX Studio 1A) www.youtube.com

Renfro, who grew up in the tiny religious town of Grapeland, Texas, picked up the guitar in his late twenties after moving to Austin to farm and be closer to friends. As a result of Renfro's semi-isolated beginnings, RF Shannon has never fit within the confines of one genre. Each of the singer's three projects, the latest being Rain on Dust which was just released this summer, are drastically different from one another. Each carries with it a sense of place and transports the listener to wherever Renfro wants you to be, whether it be rural Texas, Louisiana, or beyond. "I feel like my work is to keep some small thread of connection to a physical, visceral experience of the natural world," says Renfro. "The awe and invigoration I feel in the deserts and mountains of the Southwest, the swampy thickets in East Texas and Louisiana, there is healing energy there. I use my music as offerings to this healing energy." We sat down with Shane to talk more about life as RF Shannon, and why he feels such a profound connection to his geography.

You mentioned that you opened a cafe because you weren't making enough money solely off music. How are your finances now? Do you still run the coffee shop?

I am making more money from music than I was, which is to say, I'm not making enough solely from music to live off of. So I'm having to continue to find creative ways to hustle while allowing myself the freedom to stay active with music. I save resources by choosing to live a very minimal, borderline ascetic lifestyle in order to avoid getting a J-O-B that would demand most of my time and energy. So I get by. I don't run Chaparral Coffee anymore, I really just helped to build it out and get it off the ground a few years ago.

You seem much more grounded on Rain on Dust, and it's much "folkier" than previous releases. You're an artist whose transitions and growth in honing in on his craft can be seen pretty clearly from album to album. Can you take me through the process between your last two projects? How did you center in on Rain on Dust?

I wouldn't say I've found a "center" for what RF Shannon is just yet. I think this has all just been testing the waters so far. I'm just now starting to figure out how to do this. It's cool that you've noticed the transitions. Rain on Dust is definitely an extension of Trickster Blues in terms of process. Both albums were mostly live-tracked, and it was basically the same crew. We recorded the albums with Will Patterson, and we kept the same approach to making a sonically raw and warm recording. I think the big difference between the two albums was using a lot more acoustic guitars: 12 strings, nylon, etc. this time around. In general I've tried to make each album more clean and simple than the last.

RF Shannon - "Had a Revelation" www.youtube.com

You've always described your music as having a sense of place. How have you come to associate RF with geography? Was it always like that?

I think I feel the need to infuse my music with a sense of place because of the "placeless-ness" of everything now. The residue of the Anthropocene is the "internet of things." I see my songs as these oneiric spells that I want to release into the natural world to sort of transmute that [geographical] energy, help move it along, and resolve something, if that makes sense. I see my work as just another piece of the puzzle to help us get unstuck where we might be hung up on some darker energies that have recycled themselves into our shared experiences.

Does the name "RF Shannon" carry the same sort of weight?

RF Shannon is a name I chose to use because it was a scrambling of my own identity into my grandfather's name: Robert Frederick Shannon. I didn't know him well, and from what I do know, it seems he lived a rough and tumble life and maybe didn't pass on as the happiest soul. In some way, I feel we inherit the unresolved issues of our family dramas, consciously or unconsciously. I use my music as offerings of this healing energy, and I try to interpret the feelings these places give me into sounds, sort of like sympathetic synesthesia.


You said that you cut Trickster Blues really quickly. Did you take more time on this album?

I think it's about the same. I think we were done with live tracking and vocals for Rain on Dust in 3 days. I spent a day on overdubs, and one with Luke Dawson on pedal steel. So, hell, maybe this one was even quicker. It's been fun to work fast, but I think moving forward, I want to experiment with letting it all simmer a bit longer.

How was your tour? What are your plans going forward?

Tour was amazing. We were out with Molly Burch, she's the boss. She's such a dear friend and she and her band are just the most talented and sweet people. You can't beat that combination. We hadn't really spent much time on the East Coast so it was nice to play to packed rooms out there and meet so many new people. Moving forward, we'll be playing some select shows in Los Angeles and Texas, and looking into a European run this spring. I'm cooking up a new album right now, so we'll start recording that soon.

Rain On Dust

MUSIC

Abby Anderson is Country's Next Kacey Musgraves

The 22-year-old Country Pop singer's new single is as giddy as it is catchy

Abby Anderson is aiming to dominate the country-pop airwaves with her new single, "Good Lord."

2019 is slated to be a big year for the up-and-coming country starlet. The Texas-bred singer made her international debut at the Country 2 Country festival earlier this month in London, where she shared a stage with the likes of Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Hunter Hayes, and Lady Antebellum. But that's not all. In the coming months, she will also be opening for Rob Thomas in more than 44 cities on his Chip Tooth Smile Tour and is also set to perform at some big-name festivals, including Stagecoach, Tortuga, and Country Thunder Arizona. In addition to a very hectic touring schedule, Anderson's new single, "Good Lord," is bound to garner attention from country pop fans all over the world.

The song comes on strong, with a rock-driven guitar lick soaring over a plucked banjo and a dance-worthy drum loop. For the verse, the distorted guitar disappears, allowing plenty of room for Anderson's soulful voice to sprawl out as she lists off all the reasons she loves her man: "It's the way you kiss me like nobody's watchin'/ It's the way you lean in every time I'm talkin'."

This sweet and giddy verse gradually builds into a large and anthemic chorus that will have no trouble filling up the many theaters and arenas Anderson will be performing in this year. "I bet the good lord took his sweet time," Anderson belts, "on your dark hair and your brown eyes."

This ecstatic and sunny love song is perfect for singing along to, whether you catch Anderson on tour this Summer, or while driving with the windows down on a beautiful spring day.

GOOD LORD



Dustin DiPaulo is a writer and musician from Rochester, New York. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University and can most likely be found at a local concert, dive bar, or comedy club (if he's not getting lost somewhere in the woods).


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