Forty-four seconds into ‘Fleur,’ Canadian ambient artist/producer Teen Daze (aka Jamison Isaak) sings a repeated refrain of “This season’s not over / I fall into dreams without closing my eyes.” Set against a lush backdrop of washy pads, stargazed melodic flickers, and distant shuffling drums, it’s a blissful set-up for the three and a half odd minutes of relaxational dream pop excellence that follows. In turn, ‘Fleur’ serves as an equally buoyant introduction to the rest of Faces I Know, 17-year-old Philadelphia-based electronic musician and visual artist Instupendo’s sophomore EP.

Inspired by contemporary electronic/club musicians like Bonobo, Sam Gellaitry, Tennyson, Tom Misch, Mr. Carmack, and the composers behind Japanese anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli, Instupendo (government name: Aidan Peterson) got his start in music on SoundCloud in his early teens. In 2016, he started engaging with the commercial music streaming framework and caught a bevvy of playlist placements and blog coverage in the months that followed.

Instupendo

After releasing his debut EP Friend of Friend (which saw him collaborate with an array of internet friends including Lontalius and Benny Sings) last year, he went back to the drawing board. Instupendo began digging deep into songwriting, listening, and composition, dreaming up a set of instrumental songs so personal they almost became imaginary friends, before approaching Teen Daze to provide the single vocal on 'Faces I Know'. Here, he talks a bit about collaborating with Teen Daze on ‘Fleur,’ the visual arts practice that runs hand-in-hand with his musical work, and his thoughts on self-care, reflection, and introspection.

What did working with Teen Daze allow you to do with 'Fleur' that you couldn't have otherwise? When and how did you know this collaboration was going to make sense?

The collaboration on 'Fleur' came about pretty organically. I introduced myself to Jamison at SXSW last year when we were both performing in different showcases in the same venue. I’d come across one of his songs, ‘Cycles,’ and his vocals caught my attention. When I started writing ’Fleur,’ I thought his vocals would be a great fit, so I reached out in with the instrumental demo. He was immediately down to give it a try. He was wrapping up a tour at the time and happened to have a show in Philadelphia, so we had a chance to connect live and in person before he started to work on the top line. We chatted before his set, and that was when I knew he’d be a lovely collaborator. He was brilliant throughout the writing process as well, just incredibly warm and open.

Ultimately I think the main reason that the collaboration worked so well is because of the versatility of Jamison’s vocals. The instrumental was initially much more chill and laid back, almost like a lullaby, and so his vox was recorded to fit that mood. However, I started to experiment and eventually developed a chorus that diverged from the typical “chill” essence I’d set out to create. The beautiful thing was that Jamison’s vocals still worked within the track perfectly, and helped enrich the parts that came about after he’d recorded his vocals.

Instupendo

As well as making music, you work as a visual artist with inks and watercolors. You’ve kindly shared a few of them with us. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with visual art and your processes?

I’ve been stealing pens from my dad since I was a little kid, drawing in any notebook I could find since probably the age of 3 or 4. At one brief point in time, I wanted to be a professional illustrator. That ended when I got to high school and was enrolled in illustration classes where they made me draw from real life. That just got monotonous for me so quickly.

My approach to drawing is almost exactly the same as my approach to composing music; I pick up my pen, clear my mind, and just let my hand move by itself. I’m a firm believer in not forcing things, and that’s definitely reflected in my creative habits, musically and visually. I’ve only just recently started to add colour to my drawings with watercolor markers, so rather than restricting my practice, I’m continuing to explore. Taiyo Matsumoto, Inio Asano, and Jean-Michel Basquiat inspire me.

As far as goals for illustrating, right now it’s still only an “enjoyment passion,” but I have considered ways in which I might bridge my interest in illustration and music. I did a small exhibition of ink drawings last year at the release party for my debut EP Friend of a Friend and am trying to figure out how to do something similar for ‘Faces I Know.’ We’ll see.

Instupendo

What are the benefits for you of working hand in hand as a musician and visual artist?

There are definitely things you can exclusively express through visual art, as there are things you can only show with sound. Sometimes I come across emotions and experiences I can’t explain solely through music, and that’s when I turn to paper.

Instupendo

Your music has this therapeutic framing around it. What are your thoughts on the pursuit of relaxation, calm, focus and clarity, especially while trying to build a career as a musician in an unstable world?

I’m a huge fan of all things self-care. That’s why my dorm room is set up to be super comfortable with nice lighting so if I’m chilling in there alone or with my guys, it’s completely relaxing. Being cool with my living space is super key to my personal wellness.

But even simpler than that, I think setting aside time for reflection and introspection is one of the most helpful things you can do in your pursuit of comfort and clarity. The more you figure yourself out, the more comfortable life gets - and that applies to all passions and vocations.

Instupendo has just released ‘Fleur’ feat Teen Daze. His new EP Faces I Know is drops on April 3, 2018. Over March, April, and May, Instupendo will play a series of live shows across the US and Canada.

Mar 30 Coda Nightclub, Philadelphia
Mar 31 Blue Dog Motel, Montreal
Apr 7 Trans Pecos, Queens
Apr 8 Flash Nightclub, Washington DC
Apr 20 Secret Location, Los Angeles
May 12 Sunnyvale, Brooklyn