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Still Woozy: Observations of Indie Music, by Justin Bearden

Modern indie music is difficult to describe. Short for “independent music”, it’s meant to be enjoyed without the constraints of labels or genres. It can range from distorted lead guitar to heavenly synth tracks and is characterized by unique, talented musicians around the world. If you ask people to name some indie artists, you’ll hear a plethora of different artists with totally different sounds.

Some prefer an indie rock sound from artists like The Backseat Lovers, Wallows, or Peach Pit. Others enjoy the soft sounds of dream/bedroom pop from Men I Trust or Phoebe Bridgers.

Many other sub-genres exist within indie: psychedelic, slowcore, surf rock, and more. Some indie artists today neatly fit into one of these groups. However, some resist labels and blur the boundaries between genres.

Still Woozy is one of those artists.

After he took off in 2017 with his catchy, layered single Goodie Bag, Sven Gamsky (a.k.a. Still Woozy) has continuously developed his sound and explored the different sub-genres of indie music. With each new project, Gamsky brings something new to the table. His songs are saturated with sounds from R&B, electronica, funk, and just about everything in between.

In an interview with Flood Magazine, he discusses some of his biggest influences which range from The Strokes to The Beatles to Lil Wayne.

“Almost everything lives on the internet so that’s where I’ve been, discovering old and new music.” (Flood Magazine)

Skilled musicians borrow ideas from influential artists and turn them into something that reflects their own identity. As he mentions, the internet makes it unbelievably easy for new artists to study and compare music across time and genres to infuse them into their own work. For Gamsky, this creative freedom eases the pressure to conform to a certain style and he wants to reflect that in his songs.

“I want people to feel uninhibited when they listen to my music, like they can relax and get lost in it if they want.” (Wonderland Magazine)

The trend of rejecting classification within categories of music has grown in popularity. Many artists now take a DIY approach and self-produce music that reflects their development instead of signing with a big label and producing similar songs over and over.

At a press conference following the release of his single “BS”, Gamsky told reporters, “Genres are more just a tool to navigate music, so I can’t really knock it, but I could never use it to describe my own music... I never want to get stuck in a genre. I have too many ideas to get stuck in one place. I don’t want people to get used to just one thing either. I want space to express all the different parts of myself.”

Many of his songs reflect struggles we can relate to, such as loneliness, uncertainty, and regret. Art and music help us navigate these issues. He continues, “For me, music is a coping mechanism. I definitely have emotional stuff I’m working through and it helps. My goal is to create more of a safe space to get a little break from yourself. I create it so it can help me first. If it can provide some level of a buffer, I know I can do the same for other people” (Honey Punch Mag). He also mentions how his fiancée has influenced his music and how meaningful relationships make life worth living.

His new album If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is truly reflects his creative development and ingenuity. This debut album beautifully mixes different aspects of his musical prowess, and it includes a variety of vibes for all listeners to enjoy. The array of sweet and memorable melodies invokes nostalgia for simpler times and optimism for better days ahead. While his first trippy singles somewhat lack direction and identity, this distinctive, well-developed album solidifies Still Woozy as the face for the future of indie.

He tells Daily Bruin, “There’s a lot of things that I’m inspired by and a lot of things I want to experiment with. On this album, there’s stuff that feels almost like rock ‘n’ roll, and then there’s some stuff that’s funk, and other stuff feels like indie, and sometimes it feels like acoustic. So I just have too many things that I want to do to be pigeonholed.”

“This [album was] super cathartic to make. It’s just how I deal with my own mental health – it helps me [to] just create buffers and just feel. It helps me create feelings that help me process things that happened."

While he remains true to the style that popularized him within indie, he experiments with different textures and layers to form a masterful no-skip album. Artists that defy genre allow you to form your own interpretation of their art and apply it to your life. There’s a reason why listeners from all genres appreciate Still Woozy-- he pours his heart into his work. You can feel the emotion and passion as you listen. If this debut album indicates the future of his music, listeners can continue to enjoy the musical genius of Still Woozy with each new project.

Recommended from If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is: These Days, All Along, Get By.

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