Photo: Kourtney Kyung Smith
When two concepts contrast each other yet are immersed and presented together, we call it juxtaposition. When it happens in music, it’s hit or miss. But when Teenage Priest does it, it’s art. Today, the up-and-coming artist provides evidence to that notion in his latest single, “Distant Crush.”
Teenage Priest’s lofi, dunked in reverb, exclusively hi-hat drum beats strike a mood iridescently similar to that of the chillwave greats like Washed Out and Toro y Moi. While his voice is much darker and deliberate, that’s the art I’m talking about, the blending of cold and hot, high and low. It’s what makes Teenage Priest’s music unique.
There’s just one person behind the moniker, and his name is Taylor Van Ginkel. The Los Angeles–based indie artist is no stranger to the music scene. Though he keeps a mellow and humble online persona, he is the lead guitarist in Bishop Briggs’ band. Teenage Priest, however, is 100% his own. With odes to ‘80s new wave synths and art rock riffs from groups like The Style Council, Teenage Priest embarks on a sound that is nostalgic yet novel. Like the chillwave greats before him, the music he makes is irresistibly fuzzy and groovy.
Lyrically, he never strays far from themes of self-actualization and acute self-awareness. There’s a sense of realism in all of the music Ginkel’s released as of late. His past singles “Cool To You” and “Stay With Me” dealt with ever-present themes of trendy identities and misread cues, whereas “Distant Crush” references falling in love from afar and becoming obsessed with the idea of someone. Ginkel spoke further on the track, sharing,
“‘Distant Crush’ came from frustration about not understanding who or what really exists. The internet wants me to obsess over people and personalities that I’m not even sure are actually there. The song isn’t about a human romance, but maybe just an idea of one, and the ways we would reinvent ourselves for it.”
“Distant Crush” sounds as if it’s on the soundtrack of a John Hughes film, pastel and perfectly out of focus, even if its themes are perhaps a bit more Black Mirror. It easily could have been playing from the boombox John Cusack held over his head outside Diane Court’s window in the ‘80s classic, Say Anything. Listen below and let Teenage Priest score your afternoon daydream; it’ll be a pretty one.