Best of 2021: Haley Dahl Is Super Happy About Gustaf’s Big Year

The Sloppy Jane bandleader talks Audio Drag for Ego Slobs.

Gustaf is a New York band — they’re not new to me, but their record, Audio Drag for Ego Slobs, is new. They’re friends of ours. I was roommates with one of the band members when I lived in New York, for a little bit, and they’re all people who played in a bunch of different bands in the scene over there. 

They started playing as Gustaf a couple years ago, before the pandemic, and they’re just so good. They put on such an incredible, energetic live show. The band has kept sort of the same core people, but the way that they’ve done their live shows has changed so much over time. If you have the opportunity to see them live, you have to. 

Hearing them finally put out recorded music — they’re immediately doing so well, and they just toured with IDLES. They’re having a really great year and I’m super happy for them. They’re the kind of band where seeing them do well is encouraging and inspiring, because what they do is so cool and unique. 

My favorite song on the album is “Dog.” I love the lyrics — I love story songs to begin with, and the song has a bit of a storytelling element. It’s very upbeat and catchy as a song, but it’s also about this ugly and heartbreaking experience, and is kind of poetic. It’s about not thinking about an ex, and then seeing their dog walking on the street and having this whole weird experience about it. 

I don’t think this is something that could have only been made in 2021, but I do think that it succeeding has a lot to do with 2021. I don’t know exactly how many years ago, because I feel like the pandemic has screwed up my perception of time, but I feel like we’re coming out of a time — both indie and mainstream — feeling kind of homogenized. I feel like we’re starting to see more and more interesting stuff come out. And I think the pandemic has a lot to do with it — I think people are really craving catharsis, I think people have been listening to music more actively. Having not been out, people have more of an appreciation for insane energy and a really good live show. They were making this music before 2021, and it was just as good then as it is now, but I think it being received so well has a lot to do with the time that we’re in. 

As told to Annie Fell.

(Photo Credit: Sara Cath)

Sloppy Jane is an eight-to-11 piece music project led by Haley Dahl out of Brooklyn, NY (originating in Los Angeles). An ever-evolving lineup of players, friends, and collaborators. Elements of the live show include: laughter, choir vocals, xylophone, saxophone, kazoo, television, slide whistle, vomiting blue dye, a naked body, a rotting suit, guitar, bass, drums, tambourine, ruby red slippers, violent shifts in genre and speed, a make-believe maestro, and a set that does not stop moving once it has started.