Photo Credit: Mikey Duran
The type of sadness felt at 4 in the morning, reserved for the heartbroken and nervous, is a tender and surreal one. The world feels like the wrong size; the moment small, quiet and solitary, the rest of the day foreboding at a gargantuan scale. It’s a moment of contingency and introspection, and it’s soundtracked by Floating Room’s new album Sunless.
The record tracks the end of one relationship and the beginning of another, with lyrics and a sound that comprehend every aspect of this delicate time. Maya Stoner and Kyle Bates, Floating Room’s creators, are able to channel a heightened level of intimacy and emotional competency with their combined musical history and shared personal connections. “Kyle and I were discussing writing and recording at a house show when the idea of collaborating first game up. I had a lot of love and respect for Kyle’s project, Drowse, so I was excited to see how his brain worked,” recants Stoner. The melancholy, textured aspects of Bates’ aforementioned project meld well with Stoner’s past experimental guitar rock bands, Sabonis and Forest Park. They meet in a place of sensitivity and experimentation. With the assistance of bass player and frequent collaborator Alec Van Staveren, Floating Room has classic emotive aspects that also include electronic influences and dark beats and bass lines that work to transcend the usual bedroom tape project. With a name referencing the gloomy weather of the band’s Pacific Northwest home, the album is evocative of overcast despondency–but refuses to wallow.
“We started playing music together when we started dating, writing these short, confessional songs and capturing them with our cell phones; we quickly discovered a mutual love for artists like Mirah, The Microphones, Duster, and Bedhead.” Bates and Stoners’ gendered voices, musical compatibility and parallel perspectives of growth are audible. Stoner’s lyrics appeal to relatable feelings whilst staying specific enough to tell her story, with Bates sonically interjecting his own. Finding lyrical inspiration in conversations had with her female friends, Stoner uses unabashed dejection and candidness to create a new form of emotionally charged and empowered music, self-described as “gray pop.” On the crushing track “Fun,” Stoner proclaims her strength by using past insecurities and hesitations to detail the feeling of being silenced by oppressive systems and individuals, but finding resilience within those experiences. Stoner’s vocal power backed by buoyant guitars makes for a song set to inspire.
The intimate confines of the bedroom in which Stoner and Bates record and create together are heard in the warmth and indulgence of each song, bookmarked by personal clips of the two exchanging questions or the whimpering of a dog. But, with each track their cozy realm grows. Sunless is the sound of sharing fears, and becoming stronger as a result.
– Emma Burke