From TikTok to Tour Dates, Eyedress Reflects on Growth and Changes from the Past Few Years
WORDS by ALIM KHERAJ
PHOTOGRAPHY by ASHLEY OSBORN
When Idris Vicuña, known professionally as the singer-songwriter and producer Eyedress, first noticed that his song “Jealous” was blowing up on TikTok, he low-key panicked. “I was paranoid,” he says over the phone from Los Angeles, where he lives with his girlfriend and young son. “It made me wary of people who were around me. Going viral is something that means a lot to a lot of people, but for me I was just trying to ignore it.”
Ignoring it forever, however, wasn’t an option: “Jealous”, a propulsive Joy Division-esque fire- cracker, now has over a hundred million streams on Spotify and more than one million videos on TikTok have used the song in some way. All that would be overwhelming for any artist, it happened again for Eyedress. Twice. First there was “Romantic Lover”, another song taken from Let’s Skip to the Wedding, the album that also housed “Jealous”. And then came along “Something About You”, a breezy, sun-dappled love song featuring Dent May taken from his most recent album, 2021’s Mulholland Drive. Currently, there are more than 250,000 videos featuring the song.
“I’m grateful,” Eyedress says. “When everything blew up, I had just had a baby and it was during the pandemic, so it was really the perfect thing. It’s helped me with my life. It’s helped make the creative process so much easier for me. I got a lot of support from fans. I’m just doing what I can to improve my life and record the best music I can. The fans gave me that power.”
The success of “Jealous”, “Romantic Lover” and “Something About You” is also vindicating for 31-year-old Eyedress, who has been working professionally as a musician for a decade and playing music in some capacity since he was a child. His life has seen his family relocate to America from the Philippines when he was young, only for them to return to their home country when Eyedress was fifteen. While he had played in punk bands as a teenager, when he was 20, he started making beats on his laptop while living in Manila, giving them away on the internet for free.
His beat-producing altruism got the attention of a local promoter, who introduced Eyedress to the vocalist Skint Eastwood. Together, they made wobbly, psychedelic electronica, which led to Eyedress signing a record deal with Abeano Records, a subsidiary of XL in 2014. When they parted ways, Eyedress signed to indie label Lex Records, based in Camden, London. Pivoting It is what you make of it. away from electronic-based production to grunge, punk and shoegaze-inspired alternative indie, what followed was a torrent of creativity: four albums, including recent record Mulholland Drive, two collaborative mixtapes, numerous EPs, and, most recently, a collaborative album with Californian-native alt-rocker Zzzahara, titled The Simps.
“There’s just been ups and downs,” Eyedress says of his career, giving a nervous chuckle, a habit he has when he’s trying to underplay something off. “But it felt like it all paid off. At the same time, it just reminded me that I still have to keep working. There’s so much to do. Even now. I just want to be consistent and make cool stuff. I take music seriously, but I don’t want to act like I’m super serious about everything; it’s embarrassing.”
Speaking to Eyedress, you sense that while there’s obviously intention when it comes to his music, he also subscribes to a laissez-faire way of life. In fact, he even went as far as to say that his music was “not that deep” in a previous interview with the magazine Insider. “I was trying to play it off,” he says now. “You know how some artists will use all these flowery words to describe their shit. I’m like, ‘just listen to it, man.’ It is what you make of it.”
In a way, what Eyedress says about his music lacking depth makes sense when taken liter- ally. Rather than painfully construct vibrant and ever-shifting soundscapes, he adopts a more hip-hop orientated approach, where loops, repetitive lo-fi guitar riffs and drum machines build up the foundations of a track. Even melodically, songs like “Romantic Love” and 2017’s “Separation Anxiety” have a monotonous, sometimes dissonant quality.
“Maybe all my songs sound the same,” Eyedress says. “Maybe if someone knows, like, notes and everything. But for me, I’m just sharing the vibes that I’m taking in every day. My music is my personal life, so obviously there is depth and layers because it’s representative of my history and what I’m going through. But the music is not that deep. I don’t think anything crazy when I make a song. I’ll just think, ‘today I want to make a 60s rock song. Tomorrow I’m going to make an 80s R&B song.’ But with the lyrics, it’s always deep because it’s about my life. But musically, it’s more about it being a new challenge every day. ‘Can I make this kind of genre? Will it even sound good if I do it?’”
Every Eyedress album is, essentially, a collection of moods, although they are often punctuated by moments of sharp social commentary, like “Brain Dead” on Mulholland Drive, which is about racial tensions in America and suicide, and “Spit On Your Grave”, a murderous head- banger that could be read as an allegory for police abolition.
He was living in California during the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020 that spread across America following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “You could feel the tension between the people and the police in the air,” he says. “It was a scary time. It just felt like the world could just end. It was also in the thick of Covid, too, where there were no vaccines yet. It felt like a hopeless time.”
What also didn’t help was the distance from his family. After spending years trying to make his career happen in Manila, Eyedress relocated to America nearly four years ago. He hasn’t seen his family in person since. “It sucks. I cry about it sometimes,” he admits. “But music was not working for me out there. Out there, showbiz is the biggest thing and I wasn’t trying to be a star. The kind of stuff I did just wasn’t digestible out there.”
Eyedress is surprisingly candid when it comes to sharing his feelings. Like many men, he says he used to be embarrassed to show vulnerability, although growing up, becoming a father and having a good support system has allowed him to open up about any mental health struggles he might be having. He’s also left behind partying to extremes and old behaviors he describes as “toxic”.
“When I was young, I was just doing people dirty, was into drugs and going out,” he describes. “It kind of became an unhealthy lifestyle. When I found my girlfriend and we decided we wanted a family, my life became about wanting something real. It wasn’t about getting fucked up all the time.”
Nowadays, life for Eyedress is pretty chill. He skateboards when he can, hangs out with his family and friends and records as much music as possible. He’s playing Coachella later this spring and is already working on a follow up to Mulholland Drive. Various major labels are also sniffing around following his popularity on TikTok. “Signing to a major has always been a dream of mine as a musician,” he says. “I’m just taking it a day at a time.” He gives another chuckle.
“I don’t know… it’s all overwhelming.”