NYC-based Philadelphia-bred indie electronic artist Instupendo floats into earshot with original compositions that listeners turn to when they feel, or want to feel, a certain way. Simultaneously euphoric and melancholy, this distinctive emotional sound design has earned Instupendo a world-wide following; the admiration of fellow artists, including notable collaborators such as Grammy-winners RAC and Rostam as well as indie friends like Benny Sings, Lontalius, Roy Blair, and Teen Daze; nods from The FADER, Pigeons & Planes, Pitchfork, Indie Shuffle, High Snobiety, and The 405; spotlights on SiriusXM and BBC6, and as regular features on Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and Majestic Casual. He’s performed at SXSW, and supported Rostam, Shallou, George Fitzgerald, Ryan Hemsworth x Giraffage, and Snail Mail.
2019 has seen Instupendo featuring on Toro Y Moi’s Outer Peace LP and in Urban Outfitter’s Teenage Engineering OP-Z launch campaign. His Boys by Girls EP, out June 5, is the first to feature his own vocals and finds him continuing to forge his own unique path, artfully blending genres and experimenting with stylistic diversity. Instupendo’s new material will be front and center when he joins Golden Vessel’s 21-city North American tour this summer (tour details: https://fanlink.to/
Hear First is Talkhouse’s series of album premieres. Along with streams of upcoming albums—today’s is Instupendo’s Boys by Girls — we publish statements from artists and their peers about the mindsets and impressions that go into, or come out of reflection on, a record. Here, Lindsey Jordan (Snail Mail) and Roy Blair reflect on their friendship with Instupendo, aka Aidan Peterson, and share their thoughts on the EP, which you can also listen to right here.
— Annie Fell, Talkhouse Associate Editor
Lindsey Jordan: How do you know Aidan?
Roy Blair: Twitter. It was like two years ago, my friend Lontalius had just put me onto to his music and then like, the next day, Aidan tweeted “I wanna work with Roy Blair.” We talked a bit and I sent him some ideas I was working on for [my album] Cat Heaven. It was wild, ’cause he was able to send back these synths and piano lines really fast, and everything was kind of genius. Some of the stuff we made ended up in Grow Up and GTA. What about you? How did you meet Aidan?
Lindsey: I guess we met backstage at the Clairo show in Philly. He also saved me from a car that night… king of saving my life [Laughs]. He opened for me a few months later in DC. And met my grandma. And now Boys by Girls — I’m so excited for it!
Roy: Me too. I feel like the project is very singular. It sounds like “a sound,” you know? It’s very electronic. But in a cool way, like it’s distinct from a lot of other electronic music out there. Especially from the kids our age.
Lindsey: Yeah, after hearing his early stuff and seeing his set in DC, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was really captivated when I heard the singles. Same with the EP. I like that one, “Earring.” Shit goes.
Roy: “Antidote” and “Pinch” are sick. The synthwork in particular is special. The vocals are sort of used like an instrument. I love that style of producing though… it’s impressive for someone who hasn’t put out anything with his own voice before. And the whole EP is consistent. Its crazy when someone puts together five or more songs and it’s consistent across the board. It’s a moment.
Lindsey: Yeah, thematically, the songs work really well together. It’s honest and charming. It’s hard to pull that off in songwriting without coming off as fake or too cool. I really think the lyrics and flow of the record are put together in a way that seems effortlessly cool — not that it’s an effortless thing, but it’s cool when things come off as effortless… takes lot of skills. And a lot of talent — it just shows that you’re really working for something, it’s rare.
Roy: I think Aidan’s pulling from a place aesthetically and chord-wise that a lot of people aren’t really pulling from right now. The songs all exist in the same universe and space. Loveless by MBV does that. There’s a sonic thread running through the EP that most of my favorite projects have. You can get lost in it.
Lindsey: It’s really beautiful and dreamy, and the lyrics are really witty and charming; it fits together nicely. I love working on production in studios when I have someone working with me, but I know so little about doing it myself. I’m more of a songwriter so I pay attention to the songwriting. I don’t want to overuse “dreamy,” but it feels loose and flowy and dreamy and regal. Even the aesthetic of the EP, it all feels aligned.
Roy: Definitely aligned. Last time I was in NY I went to his dorm and he had basically curated everything in it. He had little magazine pieces cut out and everything was in shades of color from the cover of the EP. It reminded me of this video where Bjork is giving a tour of her house and shows all these little trinkets and drawings she’s made. I guess some people just love continuously making shit [Laughs]. I wish I was more like that.
Lindsey: The cover art is really beautiful. I’m excited to see the project come out and catch a show on the tour. It’s an exciting EP!
(Photo Credit: left, Brooke Goldyn; right, Sammy Nelson)