Indie pop artist So Much Light is trying something new in 2019. Damien Verrett established a reputation for blending catchy hooks and electronic production with wild visuals on his 2017 album “Oh Yuck.” Since that release, he’s toured the U.S. and performed with Geographer, Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers, Rituals of Mine, and Yvette Young.
In April 2019, Verrett released a new single called “Heal.” The song was inspired by his time teaching production skills to unhomed youth at The Creation District, led by Grace Loescher.
“It really demonstrated to me my privilege,” says Verrett. As a bedroom pop artist, he had taken for granted his own access to music gear in his home studio. “They have this one-hour block with me once a week, and that’s the only time they get to work on their art in this professional setting. There are many quite talented artists who simply do not have the time or the resources to work on their art.”
In Summer 2019, he played second guitar on a tour of Asia with the reunited indie band American Football. It was tough to learn 14 songs by the underground “math rock” band, known for complex rhythms, song structures and time signatures.
“The thing that tripped me up the most is that every single song is in a different tuning,” Verrett says. “There’s not a lot of room for error. On a normal guitar tuning, you know where F is, you know where G Flat is, just by looking at [the fretboard]. But if you get off the road with an open tuning, it’s a serious problem.”
Verrett had about three months to learn the American Football touring repertoire, and only two day-long practice sessions before hitting the stage at Fuji Rock Festival. The show put him on stage in front of about 10,000 people, the largest audience of his career. The American Football tour hopscotched to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok, and Jakarta.
Damien Verrett joins Insight to talk about touring with American Football and a preview of his dive into minimalism on his latest project. “5 Minutes” is a visual E.P. consisting of five songs, each one minute long, sequenced into a single music video. He teamed up with his friend and frequent collaborator John Tierney for the visuals.
“He’s an incredible videographer [with] such good ideas,” Verrett says. “We really relate artistically.”
Verrett drew inspiration from pieces like “Whack World” by Tierra Whack for the project. He challenged himself to write one-minute songs as an exercise in minimalism, informed by how the music streaming services reward brevity.
“You really have to trim [a song] down to fit it inside of one minute,” he says. “No intro, nothing repeats. If you can communicate very articulately within one minute, maybe that’s all you need?”
The “5 Minutes” visual E.P. will be released on the So Much Light YouTube channel and music streaming platforms on October 2.
So Much Light will be on a U.S. tour with The Speed of Sound in Seawater and Catbamboo in October, ending with a show at Holy Diver in Sacramento on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. For a list of upcoming So Much Light shows and ticket information, check out his events page.
Listen to the new EP: