Known for his funky electronica technoscape aesthetic, Matt DeVoti of Solar Bloom is immersing fans in his rhythmic exploration of communication with his new single “This Tiny World”. With an artistic blend of synthetic beat and meticulously layered vocals, achieved through the usage of both analog and digital instruments, “This Tiny World” delivers a nostalgic 80s video game esc sound while remaining refreshing for fans of DeVoti’s distinct vibe. Working with producer Joey Papa of the similarly styled Human Zoo and Grammy-nominated musical engineer Joe Lambert, Matt approached the track from a variety of angles to cultivate the exact composition necessary to tell the song’s story which centers around having a mutual understanding with someone without resorting to verbal communication. An unconventional love song of sorts with an appreciation of all the small moments that are shared between us without any words, “This Tiny World” perfectly captures the essence of togetherness using thoughtful lyrics and the versatility of genre.
Q. You’ve developed a unique sound and producing style as a multi-instrumental artist. How do you manage production work individually?
A. My general process is to just take it one instrument at a time while writing. I tend to write directly into my DAW (Logic) and record the basic song first. I feel like once the basic idea is down it kind of tells you what other parts it needs if you listen to it. I’ll listen back and hear a guitar part that grows in emotion and think, “It could be cool to have some additional parts layered in to compliment that.” When I feel like an idea isn’t really surprising me much I’ll try to force myself to think outside of the box and impose artificial limitations on what I’m going to do while writing. If I know I tend to take one approach I’ll create some arbitrary rule to force myself to take a different approach and I often find myself coming up with much more interesting ideas that way.
Every time I’m done with a writing/recording/mixing session, I export the song to my phone and listen to it a bunch over the coming days. I see what still resonates with me after several listens and what starts to get old quickly and adjust accordingly. I wouldn’t say this is the most efficient process since it takes a while for me to get songs to a place where I’m really happy with them, but I will say it does eventually get songs to a place where I’m really happy with them and not just ready to move on. Every process has its tradeoff though I guess.
Q. “This Tiny World” utilizes a wide range of musical layers to achieve its alternative/dream pop sound. What did you learn about the capabilities and limitations of certain instruments while working on this track?
A. This track taught me a lot about layering synthesizers in particular. There was a lot of trial and error to get different tones that serve different functions like creating background atmosphere or creating little effects upfront. Creating the right space took a lot of consideration as well. I wanted the effects in the verses to feel like a crowded mind full of thoughts and emotions while still feeling coherent and not crowding too much. Mixing the synths with the ambient vocals took some trial and error and my amazing producer Joey Papa really helped me to get everything in its right place once we got down to the final mix.
Q. You said that your beloved cat Max was an integral inspiration for the song. What is the story between you two?
A. My cat is such a teddy bear. He’s not the typical “run away and hide” stereotype of a cat. He’s always following someone around (often me) and just wants to be involved in what’s going on. He triggered the initial concept for the song when I got to thinking about how even though we can’t speak to each other we both seem to know exactly how the other is feeling and what the other wants. This eventually led me to consider how much expression and affection shared between humans who are able to speak to each other is non-verbally communicated. I kept the imagery of a cat for the song to drive the point more.
Q. Joey Papa of Human Zoo helped bring the track to life by revamping the guitars and recording live drums. Talk about your relationship and collaborations with Human Zoo and other notable artists.
A. Joey is one of my favorite people to collaborate with. I always say one of my favorite things about his is that he’s never too shy to say he’s not crazy about a specific idea which means he’s telling the truth when he says he does like something. Since I otherwise work solo and really lose any point of reference for how good or bad an idea might be, I really need that sort of honesty. Even if he’s not crazy about an idea though, he really looks at what I’m going for and is often able to present some alternative that achieves what I’m going for even better.
We met years ago while playing shows. Solar Bloom once went by the name Paper Aircraft and I played live with some friends for a bit. We met Joey and the rest of Human Zoo and became collaborators. The former guitarist in the live version of this project, Alex, now plays guitar for Human Zoo in fact. They’re an extremely talented bunch of people and Joey’s engineering and production skills are such a welcome breath of fresh air to all of the concepts I bring to him.
Q. “This Tiny World” centers around non-verbal communication and the acts of care we offer each other without even having to speak. Why is this such an important theme to cover musically?
A. It’s funny to think that I’m covering this theme at all when I once made a promise to myself not to write love songs since I thought there wasn’t really much left to say on the topic. Since finishing “This Tiny World”, I’ve started on several other songs and two of those are sort of love songs so I guess I feel like there’s something I need to say after all.
While words are very important, I feel that I’m most drawn to people by other subtleties in their behavior. When I talk about non-verbal affection, while that can mean gestures like getting someone flowers, what comes to mind for me is an inflection in someone’s tone, a facial expression, the way someone lets a hug linger in a way that shows you they really mean it. Small day-to-day encounters like that that just feel like the glue between you and another person. So much of communication is body language and gestures after all and sometimes I feel like I and presumably other people overlook that.
Q. How did you create the Solar Bloom logo, reminiscent of a UFO with a small eye in the middle? How does this logo fit into Solar Bloom’s overall aesthetic?
A. Well, I’m a huge space nerd so you’re onto something by comparing it to a UFO. Solar Bloom to me refers to the simultaneously beautiful and violent eruption of an exploding star as a supernova. I love colorful, high-energy music and try to draw from that beautiful and energetic concept.
As a huge fan of space and cinema, I was obsessed with the movie Interstellar when I first saw it. The logo was inspired by the black hole in that movie since a massive enough star can collapse into a black hole after it explodes. I felt like it was a simple but memorable image that related to the general theme of the project.