Meet carpetgarden, the Misfit Indie Pop Icon Embracing Optimistic Nihilism

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Photo: Danin Jacquey

California-based bedroom pop artist carpetgarden introduces themselves as somebody whose art exists for misunderstood youth and people often marked as misfits. The singer-songwriter is a brave, bold, tender voice that crosses between different styles and genres and whose DIY ethic recalls everyone from Beat Happening to early Bright Eyes. They embody a genre-less style with music that at its core is fun, catchy, and highly imaginative.

carpetgarden, née David Sweet, first hit listeners’ radar in 2017 with a sweet and summery cover of OH! hello’s "Savana Sabertooth" on their personal YouTube channel. After sharing a few more ukulele covers, the artist experimented with their own signature sound and began posting original music, paving the way for their first single, 2018's Alfie Templeman-assisted "Close Yr Eyes." Following the momentum of that debut single, they continued to hone their craft and push full steam ahead with the release of their fantastical 2019 debut EP Nightmare on Weed Street, evolving closer and closer into the artist we know today.

With their 2021 release, The Way He Looks, carpertgarden has become an amalgamation of diverse branches of lo-fi bedroom pop, dabbling in confessional ukulele-pop as well as incorporating overtones of grungy slacker-pop. They take a boundaryless approach, refusing to be pigeonholed by aesthetics and ambiance. 

Over the eight tracks that comprise The Way He Looks, they dabble with a multitude of emotions, kicking off the record with the happy-go-lucky "Beautiful Mind" before transitioning into the brutally honest and unapologetic "Don’t Cry On My Doorstep." Their singing turns into pleading, especially on lines like, "Please don’t go, you’re my home." carpetgarden continues to speak their truth, one song at a time, and is sliced together in an evocative, future-fixated fashion. "Can Ghosts Be Gay?" tackles the struggle towards self-acceptance and deconstructs gender and sexuality in a heteronormative society. Overall. it’s a beautiful record that displays how intimately in touch with one’s own feelings they have become.

Most recently, the queer icon-to-be dropped an artistically playful, tongue-in-cheek music video for their single "IDC," which embodies the classic coming-of-age cinematic themes with a non-binary twist. The single is a rebel-rousing indie-pop laced tune that champions self-expression and not giving a damn about what others think.

"'IDC' is a really chaotic song about embracing identity and flaws and giving up in the most positive way," said the 21-year-old to Genius. “Before I came out as trans, I was always hiding parts of myself, so I blended in more to the people around me. Once I came out, I didn’t really have to 'blend in' anymore since being trans is still an idea a lot of people turn their heads to. I’ve lost a lot of relationships with (very judgmental) friends and family because of my gender identity and sexuality. 'IDC' is really about that optimistic nihilism, and the sort of "release” to be yourself and find your community after the abandonment."

Watch the "IDC" video below:

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