Water Brings the Rapids: An Interview with A. Vos

Each song on A. Vos’s debut EP Water Brings the Rapids holds within it a delicate intensity that can only be described as slow-release catharsis. His dreamy, folk-tinged melodies command an incredible amount of tonal space, and yet, due to the warmth they emit, simultaneously feel as if you could cradle them in your hands and hold them close. When accompanied by his earnest, passionate vocals, they ultimately seem to soar to a place of revelatory peace; it is, essentially, the musical equivalent of shedding layers of your past self in favor of realizing the strength underneath – something that you later realize has always been innate, inherent, and intransient. I was lucky enough to interview the Atlanta-based artist earlier this week about the EP – read while listening to a few tracks below. 

Kid With A Vinyl: This is a question I like to ask all musicians, because the answer varies each time: do you believe that abstractions like nostalgia are inevitable by-products of genres such as dream pop or folk pop, or something that is deliberately constructed, and what are your thoughts on expressing such ideas within your own music? What would you want your ideal listener to feel while listening?

A. Vos: I think those genres are ripe for nostalgia because of the method of expression. That being said it seems like there are a lot of ham-fisted, lo-fi recordings attempting to spoon-feed nostalgia, and that’s no fun. When I’m creating or listening to the right song I feel like life actually has meaning. If I could hope for anything, it’s for my audience to experience an ounce of what I felt creating the song. Music is the perfect vessel to spread love, even if it isn’t particularly cheery – it comes in many different forms. 

KWAV: You mentioned recently that “Fire on the Back Porch” is your favorite track from the EP – why is this?

A. Vos: It’s special to me because it went through so many iterations. I think I started recording that song from scratch about 5 times before I landed on the one. I’m proud of the arrangement, lots of layers and textures. I wanted the instruments to feel like a fire moving in on you. The song came to me on the porch of my old apartment and I paced back and forth like a mad man until the second verse came to me. It’s about my tendency to allow thoughts to shut me down and trap me in corners. Sort of a meta track because the process of writing can really weigh you down, but once the song is finished you can start to let go. 

KWAV: Walk us through your writing/recording process, if possible!

A. Vos: The initial idea for a song usually comes when I’m playing guitar or piano. From there it can go many different ways. Sometimes if I can hear what the song will be, I’ll just slam my head against the wall with an instrument in my hand until the rest comes. If it’s a song like “Seafoam (((Stardust)))” for example, the production blurs into the songwriting in a way. That song came from an instrumental I made on a rainy day, and I felt the song had a lot more to say. It would only take another 18 months of fishing to find it. 

KWAV: If I had to pick two favorites from the EP, it would be the absolutely gorgeous “Lemon Moon” and the esoteric, otherworldly “Seafoam (((Stardust))).” The way both of these tracks swell and build between verses and choruses is breathtaking. Can you speak a bit about either (or both)?

A. Vos: Both of these songs have that infinite feeling to them that I’m very much addicted to. “Lemon Moon” is intended to be about a boundless moment of pure love, that one can escape reality and revisit down the line. I find the song uplifting. I’m always wishing I was back dancing under that Lemon Moon. 

“Seafoam (((Stardust)))” is a mash up of two opposing ideas. The former half of the song is about my personal struggle with depression and a sort of continuation from “Fire on the Back Porch,” but with its opposing element, water. The latter half of the song completely opens up and delivers the repeating line, “We are stardust hurling forwards,” which is quite a literal interpretation of what we are. I try to remind myself of this truth when I’m in a bad place and it seems to help a little. In the end the only things that matter are the things you choose to matter. 

KWAV: Were there any moments in between the initial conception and the final execution of this album that left you feeling overwhelmed, uninspired, or discouraged? How do you usually overcome mental blocks in creativity? 

A. Vos: I had several moments where I wondered if I should focus on making something more approachable. This is the first A. Vos EP and of course I want my music to reach a wider audience just like everyone else does. But about two years ago when I started writing music for this project I told myself that I was going to be me. If I get good enough at being me maybe people will want to hear what I have to say.

KWAV: Which track was the most challenging to write/record/complete? 

A. Vos: “Seafoam (((Stardust)))” was probably the most challenging. I almost scrapped it because it was just so out there, but eventually I figured out a progression that worked and everything came together in the end. It just goes to show when you really believe in an idea it’s worth it to be patient. 

KWAV: Darby Cici from The Antlers provided trumpet accompaniment on the stunning track “Be the Same.” What was it like working with him?

A. Vos: He was really wonderful to work with, it really wasn’t a big thing. I reached out to him about possibly laying down some trumpet on a song and he was kind enough to record some takes and send them over. I’m so stoked to have him on this EP, he’s a part of several records that were pivotal for me when I rediscovered my love for music many years ago. 

KWAV: Finally, what are you listening to at the moment? Any recommendations? 

A. Vos: Son Lux have been putting out insane music the past year, some next level musicianship and production all over it. Also highly recommend The Antler’s new record Green to Gold and Ian Sweet’s record Show Me How You Disappear. 

Water Brings the Rapids is out now.


Mini Album Review: Citizen, Life In Your Glass World

Over the past ten years, Toledo, Ohio based emo trio Citizen – composed of vocalist Matt Kerekes, guitarist Nick Hamm, and bassist Eric Hamm – have consistently shown their inherent skill for balance and rhythm, for intelligent lyricism that references both tenacity and delicacy but in a way that exudes just as much eloquence as it does anger. Though they’ve let some signature stylistic identifiers go over the past three some-odd years (Kerekes admitted recently that he just didn’t want to yell in music anymore), in their fourth LP they’ve truly discovered the delicate balance that makes Citizen, well, Citizen. When it comes to Life in Your Glass World, they’ve succeeded in crafting a truly gorgeous album that’s initially dipped in white-hot rage, but ultimately radiates with pure empathy and understanding for the complex human condition; the melodies are clean and controlled, even when they’re about to be catalyzed by pain and vulnerability, and the lyrics are honest and memorable, most of the time expressing the sort of wholesome intention and care that’s rare to come by these days.

For this mini review, I’ve picked three of my favorite tracks from this album – lyric-wise, they just settle within the crevices of my heart in a way I haven’t experienced in a while. Read our reviews below, supported with what they disclosed about the album in FLOOD Magazine’s track-by-track interview.

Though it was a last minute addition, I’m convinced “Thin Air” is one of the album’s best tracks, mainly due to how brilliantly it balances soft delicacy and intense desperation. Kerekes, in a voice half-lethargic and half-hopeful, asks the void to “give me something real/ if only for the thrill,” yearning for something genuine rather than disposable even if it’s only temporary. At the quietest moment in the track, Kerekes gets more ruminative, reminiscent: “I heard my voice through the open door/ Singing my slow songs for whoever / But I don’t want to no more.” These lyrics seem to speak to the band’s intentions with this album, to create something that was entirely them and no one else:  

I don’t have a lot of regret but there have definitely been times when we felt powerless during the band’s existence. This time we really owned every part of the process. It’s easy to feel like you’re on autopilot when you’re in a band, but that’s not a good place to be this far into our existence. We consciously knew we wanted to break free.

Kerekes explained he wrote “Call Your Bluff” about a friend “who disappeared one night after some sad life events,” that “it’s essentially saying I’m here for you, and you’re not alone.” What results is one of the most wholesome emo tracks the trio have ever created, but simultaneously one of the most cutting and painful in terms of the emotion conveyed (honestly, I wish I could put the lyrics here in full, the way I love them so much). Kerekes’s croon is genuine, filled with concern, admitting “I know what it is to hate yourself,” to “want to be someone else,” that the poisonous things they tell themselves “I tell myself.” Though the guitars and percussion feel like a rampage, at the same time seems to evoke the crescendo of a beating heart, and at the apex comes some of the most beautiful lines in the album: “I watched you cry for help, reach out your hand/ And then turn your back around / Everything I see in you, I see in myself.” It is not sympathy, not pity, nor shallow worry; it is empathy at its most beautiful. 

Speaking of lyrics, I say we put up “this year pressed roses from you” as a contender for the best damn lyrics of 2021. The line comes from the slower, patient track “Glass World,” where Citizen is at their most delicate. Much like the rest of the album, it speaks of vulnerability and transparency, of looking out for those you care about:

The lyrics to this song are about our guitarist Nick and some troubles he was going through. I was actually pretty confident that he wouldn’t like the song when he heard the demo, but he was into it and even suggested naming the record after the chorus lyrics. I really like how the track brightens up for the chorus, it feels like a breath of fresh air.

There’s a swatch of darkness embedded within the track, but the light of the chorus pierces through it, where Kerekes asks “If life in your glass world makes you feel so alone / Then why don’t you say so?,” suggesting “I’ll meet you somewhere when the world turns dark and cold / If you would just say so.” It’s thoughtful without being invasive, self-aware without being egotistical. 

Life in Your Glass World is an incredibly apt title for what it’s felt like physically and emotionally over the past year. Though we’ve been enclosed and tucked away, our surroundings still felt transparent, fragile, vulnerable. As much as we could see out, others could see in; as much as we thought that our foundations were stable, we were made painfully aware that they could shatter at any moment. And yet, from the way light can radiate and dance against glass – both shattered and in-tact – from the way transparency can also yield healing and understanding, the title feels more like a beacon of hope rather than a monolith of despair.

I turn to the last lines of the album, ones that, in their simultaneous simplicity and purity, should be plastered on every single wall and billboard on earth:

But at the end of the day, there is beauty in tragedy

I hope you find what you need

I hope it’s everlasting

I hope you learn to love yourself

Life in Your Glass World is out now via Run For Cover Records.


photo courtesy of artist/Run For Cover Records

vern matz – “Funny Water”

Last week, indie duo vern matz released “Funny Water,” the second official single to their upcoming sophomore album and follow up to last year’s gorgeous debut Minnesota Dancing. The self-proclaimed “hi-fi DIY hooligan folk-rockers” specialize in soft, honest, sentimental slow jams (“Earthboy” and “Burnt Coffee” are our favorites) tinged with the slightest bit of brightness and hope, even those that deal with intense vulnerability; past single “Fish Tank,” which Daniel Belgrad wrote while recovering at a Minnesota pain rehab clinic, spoke about “habituation being more powerful than misguided cathartic activity,” the twang of guitars and earnest tone of his vocals. About the new track, the duo had this to say:

Odd tasting water and jangly acoustic guitars set the stage for a song that moves in slow motion but rushes by. As if looking back on life through a kaleidoscope, Vern’s world is slanted and enchanted: a modern love note to 90s slacker jams and lost loves.

The guitars are strong, reliable, propelling the track forward with a sense of resilience despite the narrative pointing towards stalled paths and emotional frustration. Each verse is just esoteric enough to be breathlessly beautiful, but it is the last verse that especially emanates with wistfulness, where Belgrad explains “in the evening/ there is snow outside / what a simple cry the sky makes when it’s lonely.” Though bogged down by hesitation, he reminds himself “pick it up, pick it up,” the guitar solo that bursts forwards afterwards almost like a surge of validation from the universe. 

“Funny Water” is out now.


photo courtesy of artist

Drug Store Romeos – “What’s On Your Mind”

In June, London trio Drug Store Romeos will release their debut album The world within our bedrooms. The Fader called their unique sound “Dadaist dream pop” (which I adore) and the descriptor couldn’t be more accurate – their stunning past singles “Frame of Reference” and “Now You’re Moving” showcased avant-garde, atmospheric synth melodies and the dreamy vocals of Sarah Downey, somehow unpredictable and familiar all at once. Their most recent single “What’s On Your Mind” is the calmest of the three, but no less gorgeous – the band explained the track earlier this week:

The last half of the song is sort of our interpretation of a mental journey through realizations about past situations that send you down rabbit holes of thought that end up linking to other rabbit holes. During this journey you go through positive and negative emotions, but the negative emotions are not inherently bad and can lead to positive change. ‘What’s On Your Mind’ is also about perspective change and was made for listening to at 10pm as you’re settling in for the night.

Awash in a sea of pure choral synth, Downey asks a nameless persona “what’s on your mind?/ I’ll tell you what’s on mine,” knowing that they haven’t been “seeing eye to eye” recently and attempting to bridge the gap between them. We’re never really sure if the positive will outweigh the negative in the long run, but, quite honestly, the ambiguity simply works here; when listening to the bassline radiating like cascading waves after the chorus, there’s a small glimmer of hope, or melancholy, something just as fast-acting and long-lasting. 

The world within our bedrooms is out June 25. 


photo by Neelam Khan Vela

Pleasure Systems – “Corpse Pose”

Pleasure Systems is the solo project of Philadelphia based artist Clarke Sondermann. Visiting the Well, his upcoming album out later this week, will undoubtedly be one of the most beautiful releases of the year – that is, if his first three singles are any indication. Written and recorded in isolation in the year after experiencing the loss of a partner, Sondermann wears his vulnerability on his sleeve in Visiting the Well, solidifying it as a powerful and brutally honest processing of grief. His most recent single “Corpse Pose” just might be the most intimate of the three, combining perfectly layered synth and glass-like vocals delicate enough to shatter. Sondermann explained the track upon release:

A lot of this record is about feeling trapped in cyclical memories – some positive, some negative – and the fear that comes from these memories replacing the actual existence of a person. I wrote this song in particular about the traumatic memories that stemmed from the night my partner died, and tried to recreate some of the repeating scenes in the arrangement. I found that the only thing really capable of breaking these thought cycles was allowing myself to create fantasies of alternate “endings” that allowed for more resolution or meaning, which was ultimately my intention in making this music – willing meaning into existence. 

I’ve found that the experimental, four-dimensional nature of synth and choice effects are highly indicative of the jagged, unpredictable, uncomfortable expanse of grief, and, ironically enough, far more human that way; Panda Bear’s “Tropic of Cancer” and Cindy Lee’s “Heavy Metal” are two perfect examples in the way it portrays loss, mourning, and healing in beautifully postmodern constructions. This track is no exception; Sondermann’s voice is the embedded softness within the expanse of glitchy, metallic instrumentals, relaying a narrative haunting as much as it is honest and genuine: “Picture you there/ I’m washing the blood from your hair/ I’m crying in the stairwell/ You fold out of corpse pose/ You rise again/ I open the window/ I can’t hold you in.” It is as if we see the long journey of healing in an accelerated fashion, especially given the second chorus — synth swelled to triple the size it was before, atmospheric, vast – where it is instead his body that unfolds, that is lifted by the person lost. “I watch as we glide/ away from these bodies/ away from these lives,” Sondermann breathes before the track melts away into the ether. 

Visiting the Well is out March 26 via Orchid Tapes. 


photo by Emily Burtner

Dad Sports – “Many Faces”

Last week, Ottawa indie pop trio Dad Sports released their stunning debut EP titled I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!!. If that exuberant title doesn’t give away just how wonderfully offbeat they are, then their music sure will – following the quirky, colorful singles “Name & Place” and “Out 4 a Breather,” standout single “Many Faces” showcases their unique amalgamation of jangle, electro, and emo-tinged pop, with the energy all wrapped up with a comforting ribbon of earnestness and sincerity. Lead singer and guitarist Miguel Plante, who also engineered and mixed the EP, explained it to us: 

“Many Faces” was first written at a point in time where I felt I had no space to just be myself. I felt like I wasn’t able to distance myself from all the things happening around me and take a second to process it all. I was obsessed with the idea of isolating myself from everyone around me in a place where I could hideaway and decompress. I’ve always spent most of my free time in my bedroom unpacking my own emotions to turn into music so it makes sense that I’ve always valued having a space where I felt in control and didn’t need to stress out. I finished writing the song after opening up to my friends about how I felt and I realized that a place of comfort doesn’t necessitate isolation – it can also just be a conversation with someone you love and trust where you feel safe to open up.”

Plante’s calm vocals – as well as the beautifully vulnerable narrative – are accompanied by jangly guitar and electronic drum machines, which, when all combined, give the track this textured nostalgia that’s difficult to pinpoint; it feels familiar and warm, and yet feels as if it is expressing something completely original. The track seems to evolve from self-consciousness to self-realization, from feeling embarrassed about wanting to be alone with your thoughts to being encouraged to do so – in the first chorus, Plante admits “I think I’d rather stay alone for a little while,” in the same breath apologizing for oversharing (“I’ll try to recollect my thoughts / They’re all over your bedroom floor / And I can’t seem to find the door). But soon that shyness fades when their friend assures them that their emotions are valid, and that they’ll never judge them: “you take solace when I say I’ll be here/ exactly when you need me.” 

I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! is out now. 


photo by Lucas Kuhl

Willows – “Kiss”

Last month, Russian indie quartet Willows released their debut EP Take Care. Though the album only has four tracks, they all showcase a careful balance between dream pop and post-punk, with impassioned vocals and memorable melodies. Our favorite from the EP has to be the fantastically upbeat, pop punk “Kiss,” a track that frontman Roman Solonovich explains is about “the feelings and emotions when you first fall in love.” In that sense, the instrumentals and vocals are brilliantly euphoric but, in its mile-a-minute tempo, also tinged with a unique, starry-eyed anxiety, as if attempting to evoke the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, the quickening of breath, an elevated heartbeat. The chorus softens, the choral oohs and ahhs peppered in between Solonovich’s croon all adding to the aura of modern romanticism. 

Take Care is out now.


photo courtesy of artist

LUHA – “I Will Find You”

Today, LUHA – the solo pop project of Paris-based artist Léa Beneteau – releases her stunning debut EP Is It Today Or Tomorrow. Centering on the themes of “uprooting, uncertainty, and ambivalence between past and future,” the EP is equal parts melancholy pop (“Call You Back”) and dreamy r&b (“Still the Same), and, at choice moments, even ventures slightly into IDM through its cerebral, textured synth. At least, this latter genre is what our favorite track, “I Will Find You” seems to embody. LUHA explained the gorgeous track to us earlier this week: 

I wanted to express this feeling of vagueness and uncertainty that we can have at certain moments of our life or of relationships. I wrote it during the lockdown, and it resonated particularly well with that feeling of being in a middle ground, stuck in the urge to move on but kind of want to stay in the present. 

Though partly about confinement, the track musically expresses something far more expansive in tone – the concentrated bursts in the instrumentals sound as if Beneteau is singing inside active fireworks, each line expelled like neon colors shooting across a darkened, pitch black sky; the moments where it slows and swells are akin to the ash and smoke falling down to its spent fuselage. It does not remain in this slowed state for too long, however, choosing instead to propel itself again into that dark void, portraying that frustrating, perpetual loop one can be caught in when stuck in contemplation. 

Is It Today Or Tomorrow is out now. 


photo courtesy of artist

Fox Academy – “Pretty” (ft. Sipper)

Over the years, one quality that I have come to associate with Fox Academy is immediacy. This is a quality in particular that I have always craved when it comes to music – its ability to hook its claws into you fast and swift and not let go for the entirety of a song’s duration. The Portland duo’s two most recent LPs Rabbit (2020) and Angel Hair (2019) were albums filled with these conceptual hooks and claws, with honest, simple narratives and pure, unguarded emotion – “Apple,” “Star Earring” and “Fishing” remain our favorites out of the bunch. Quite simply put, Michael Todd Berland and Christian Novelli’s ability to romanticize absolutely anything, no matter how small or mundane, is exceptional. 

Unsurprisingly, their newest single “Pretty,” featuring vocals from NY based-artist Sipper, also has that breathless immediacy – the lo-fi guitar is somehow both coarse and velvetine, the synth flourishes both sharp and soft in composition; Berland’s vocals perpetually rest in this impassioned monotone that has since become part of his signature. Both sing of extreme self-consciousness, of wasted time, of lost love – if Berland’s verse provides the monochrome outline for the track (“I don’t wanna waste my time/ You don’t need to save my life / What’s so funny? / I don’t know”), Sipper’s chorus fills in the stark outline with soft pastels. “Even from my good side/ I don’t look right/ I hate where my mind goes / half the time” he sings in a half-defeated, half-melancholy tone, admitting that “I don’t wanna be here/ if you’re not.” As the track fades out, it begins to feel like we’ve just cycled through the stages of grief, sans acceptance. 

“Pretty” is out now. 


photo courtesy of artist

A. Vos – “Be the Same”

Yesterday, Austin Vos released “Be the Same,” the newest single from his debut EP Water Brings the Rapids. The track follows the Atlanta-based artist’s debut single “Sweat,” which combined the best parts of folk and dream pop to deliver a narrative earnest and honest in tone – the new track follows this blissful amalgamation tenfold, and in a manner encapsulating grace: at its core, it is a slow crescendo into the unknown, the stunning baritone vocals akin to an outstretched arm reaching for something that’s always frustratingly out of frame. That perpetual tension is solidified through the gradual build of the instrumentals, as if they’re painstakingly stitching together an entirely new world due to sheer disappointment of the old one: “things won’t be the same/ be the same/ be the same/ this time it’s different/ different/ different,” Vos repeats against the newly constructed backdrop, made even more otherworldly from Darby Cici’s (The Antlers) gorgeous trumpet accompaniment. By the track’s end, the cathartic expanse they’ve created seems to circle around you, tightening and tightening its presence until it all falls away at the last conceivable moment, leaving you back in the world that brought this pain, but not without the updated mindset to traverse it once again. 

“Be the Same” is out now. 


photo courtesy of artist