Band To Watch: Eyelid Kid + “Sleeps Well On Knives” (Stereogum Premiere)
With only two tracks to their name, it’s hard to get a handle on who exactly Eyelid Kid are. They don’t make it any easier by opting for the mysterious-band route, forgoing all social media and choosing to keep their identities in the dark. “If you have a question, e-mail us,” they say. In an age where most bands are practically obligated to at least have a Facebook, it can be frustrating to dive into an artist without knowing anything about the personality behind it. But they aren’t the first to go down this path and they certainly won’t be the last. We’ll see how long they hide behind the curtain, but with music this good, we’ll let it slide for now.
Here’s what little we do know: They’re from Southern California, they’re definitively a band (not a solo project), and they make some pretty interesting music. They first came onto the scene a few months back with a single Soundcloud stream, as most bands do nowadays. “Time Travel” quickly made its way around the blog circuit and it’s easy to see why: It’s a sultry and immaculately produced piece of psych-pop and it invites you with welcoming arms. On first listen, it’s pleasant enough, but it really works its magic when you immerse yourself. You start to notice the little details: the faint sound of laughter in the background, the warm saxophone that glides over all, the way it casually builds to a sweeping climax that incorporates everything that came before. You also start to realize how damn catchy everything is: There’s not a second on this song that doesn’t have some kind of hook attached, something that you’ll find yourself humming a few hours later and trying to remember where you heard it.
“Sleeps Well On Knives,” which we’re premiering here today, builds on the promise of their first track. From the first sprightly note, it’s a delicately crafted pop song through and through. “I tried to create an atmosphere of pure despair for the verses in the first half of the tune. The lyrics are about experiencing frustration with the constraints of time,” the Eyelid Kid frontman explains. Time tends to create so much stress and anxiety for people; however, in the end, time doesn’t exist. It’s just a fabricated system. I have noticed that, in some odd way, I almost like the discomfort of stress. As if there is a relaxation to be found in strain. The second half of the song ends on a rather hopeful note: “So I’m giving up on giving up, always trying to cover a hole in my soul that’s always been full.” Listen to the new song and read a Q&A with the band leader below.
STEREOGUM: Start off by telling me a little about the project/yourself. There’s (purposefully, I gather) not much information out there right now.
EYELID KID: To begin with, Eyelid Kid is in fact a band, not a solo project as the name suggests. We hail from Southern California. I try to exercise the live show in balance with recording. I’m obsessed with rhythm and melody in the writing process and we tend to focus on groove throughout. We employ all kinds of effects to build psychedelic textures. Lyrically, the project explores a lot of existentialism. I try to capture a general feeling/emotion with each song or part. Whatever sonic aspect serves that atmosphere best is the one we go with. As far as names and exact location, we’d rather not go into specifics. Additionally, we are opting out of using any social media other than streaming platforms.
STEREOGUM: How would you describe your role in the band? Do you do most of the songwriting or is it a collaborative process?
EYELID KID: Well, it is my project and I tend to head the artistic vision as well as writing the songs. Sometimes I have parts pretty planned out for people. However, I love to give musicians room to breathe their own life into things. One important aspect is we don’t write any songs live as a band. We write in the studio, then reinterpret the recordings. This is mostly because there’s so many elements to the live show that are awesome live but don’t pan out on recordings. And vice versa.
STEREOGUM: That’s an interesting process. So what things specifically do you think work in a live show that may not come across when record or the other way around?
EYELID KID: Well, dynamics are the first thing. Dynamics are what carry a live show for me and make things exciting. However, it’s hard to capture that on a recording. And there are certain experimental features that we couldn’t do live that are maybe too out there for us to accomplish live with the given instrumentation. I would never want to resort to backing tracks. For some reason when we write in the studio, we tend to make everything too complex. So it’s fun to play and see, but not as fun to listen to on the record. Writing in the studio is most helpful because it allows me to take a step back and think about the objective of the song.
STEREOGUM: How long have you been recording and playing shows as Eyelid Kid, since you’re relatively new. Is your writing process something you’ve derived from past bands/experiences?
EYELID KID: Yes, Eyelid Kid has been very new. We’ve been doing shows here and there for a few months for few. There have been different bands and they have definitely led up to my newest writing process. You’re always progressing as a musician and artist.
STEREOGUM: What would you say separates Eyelid Kid from your other projects?
EYELID KID: It’s darker. More focused. More conceptual. Maybe even a little cleaner. My other projects have been very happy, indie pop-ish. Not that I don’t write like that anymore — I just save the songs that fit the sonic image for this project specifically so I get to explore those other types of songwriting in other outlets.
STEREOGUM: I hear a lot of different influences in your music: some psych, jazz, a lot of little things. What would you consider your “sound”?
EYELID KID: When people ask this question, I always call it psychedelic pop music. I like the sonic atmosphere of quite a lot of psychedelic music, however all the songs are pop tunes at their core. There’s so many versions of “pop” nowadays that it’s insane. Some of the members are total jazz cats, so that’s where that comes from. Our sax player got a full ride to Berklee School Of Music and he shreds his instrument. I would also cite funk and soul music as an influence. All the songs I cover always tend to come from African-American artists from the ’60s, which can seem awkward for a white boy.
STEREOGUM: What are all of these songs leading up to? Are you working on an EP or a full-length or just seeing where things take you?
EYELID KID: We’ll probably stick with singles for a bit more. Then do an EP eventually. Just see where things go.
STEREOGUM: And what do you feel the benefit is to having some sense of mystery surrounding the band?
EYELID KID: When it comes down to it, everything else is just fluff. I just want to keep things strictly about the music. In today’s internet-culture age, there’s a constant stimulus of information. Everything at you all the time. If you like the music, just listen to it. And if you have a question, e-mail us.
You can check out Eyelid Kid’s Bandcamp for new music.