Eyedress knows exactly what it’s like to make something out of nothing
Idris Vicuña, better known by his stage name Eyedress, is a 30-year-old musician doing what he loves—expressing himself creatively through music. Aside from incorporating visual elements into his songs, he’s just glad to be able to turn his art into a career. Growing up in the Philippines, Vicuña never imagined getting signed and being able to make music with artists who inspire him, including his girlfriend, Elvia, who he just had a baby with.
We caught up with Vicuña about all of his upcoming projects and what it’s like to live your dream as a result of hard work and dedication.
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How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I’m an all-around artist. I don’t necessarily make one genre of music, but I guess most of my popular songs are on the indie-rock, post-punk side of things. But I also do SoundCloud rap stuff and produce hip-hop music for my friends. I’m not just a singer-songwriter. Sometimes I know when to step back and just make the music. I’m like a DIY artist. Most of my videos, if I’m not directing, I’m really involved. I also add my two cents into everything, even with merch and clothes I design.
How did you start to make music and become an artist? What got you started?
When I was younger, I would play in bands, and one of those bands I started playing [in] wanted to make songs that would get on the radio, whatever that meant. It was when I was in my 20s, when I started trying to compose just your normal pop song structure type songs, like chorus-verse-chorus-verse. I was 22, and I got picked up by [XL Recordings] in London. It was the same label as Adele and Radiohead, but they gave me my first break.
I was only 22, and they flew me out to London. I was back and forth for a year or two. It was interesting because I was just a bedroom musician at the time. I was doing electronic music and just doing that from my room, and it was crazy when they flew me out because they started having me open in opera houses and huge 1,000-cap venues. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time.
After that experience, I stopped working with them, and I got signed with another label, which is the label I’m working with now called Lex Records. They’re known for putting out MF DOOM records. It was interesting that they picked me up because I always saw them as a hip-hop label, but I know they also fuck with indie bands. It just made sense, and I’m a big MF DOOM fan. I approach my music in a hip-hop producer way. The way I see my music is like making beats, and hopefully one day hip-hop artists will sample me.
I bring hip-hop in because a lot of my favorite hip-hop producers sample a lot of psych rock and ’60s and ’70s records. I just try to make music like that, old ’70s, ’80s-sounding songs.
I’m not original, per se. I just pay homage really, and I try to make a good song despite the style not being anything new.
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What’s your approach to the visual side of your work? How do those visual mediums translate to your music?
Most of the time my approach is lo-fi, so I have a lot of VHS videos. There’s something about nostalgia that really draws my aesthetic. I’m really into old films even, and I feel like movies directed by Stanley Kubrick would resonate with the kinds of sounds I’m trying to make. Take The Shining, a really beautiful horror film, but it was shot in a really surreal, beautiful hotel up on the mountains. I try to make my music dreamy and surreal.
Out of all the music you’ve released, is there a particular track that you think really encapsulates who you are as an artist and what you’re about?
The one I’m most known for right now is the song “Jealous,” and I think that whole song and the video reflects who I am lately. I’m a skater, so you see in the video I skate, and I’m wearing a Death Row sweater. I grew up in the hood. Just like a mixture of skate culture and punk rock. I think that song lyrically represents me. It was only a couple of years ago, but I was a little immature. I still feel pretty youthful even though I’m 30 already. I just try to keep that spirit of being creative alive, and I’m never really trying to lose sight of that side of me. Music’s always been something I did for fun. It’s crazy that it’s become something I can make a living off of. I’m just grateful. Music for me is just a therapeutic thing [where] I get to vent and get things off my chest.
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What are you working on in the future for fans to look forward to?
I’m just working on my brand right now. I’m dropping a new collection. My brand’s called Paranoia. I dealt with a lot of mental health issues growing up, but I’ve somehow managed to turn it into a brand. I have a lot of side projects coming out. I have an album with my friend YUNGMORPHEUS, which will be coming out this year. It’s more like lo-fi hip-hop beats. My friend MORPHEUS does all the rapping. I’m just a producer. My band the Simps are dropping an album this year as well. It’s like an indie, synth-pop-type band.
I got another Eyedress record on the way full of all types of different songs. I’m all over the place. Right now I’m working on a song called “Mulholland Drive” because I live down the street from Mulholland Drive, and I’m just trying to make a sick, dark ’80s song about Mulholland Drive. I make music with my girlfriend Elvia, but we just release it as Elvia. We recently released a new video. It’s a song about our son called “Cotton Candy Skies.”
Can you talk a little bit about that song? What’s it like making music together? What's it like making music in a family project?
We just wanted to express how grateful we were that our son was born during this pandemic. It was scary for us at first. All these obstacles were in the way. I think this is just like a song of appreciation for him and our family. Usually [with] music these days, I don’t really hear a lot of songs that talk about that kind of stuff, so we just wanted to tap back into our values.
That’s awesome. Is there anything else you think would be important to say about who you are as an artist?
My song “No Love In The City” is a really angry punk song, but you can see where I’m coming from. I was born in a third-world country. I was born in the slums, and I didn’t really think anything that I’m doing now could happen to someone like me. It’s a privilege to do music, and I grew up in America and the Philippines, but when I moved back, it’s very classist out there.
I’m from the streets, so I represent that you can come from nothing and still make something out of yourself. I feel like that’s something I’m really proud of as an artist and as a person. I really didn’t have much growing up, so it’s a blessing, and it just goes to show if you really keep at something and stay passionate about it, your dream could come true.
It’s a cliche story, but that’s the only thing I got. That’s all I’m proud of. Most people that I’ve known in music are pretty privileged. I couldn’t even afford to go to college. I stuck to this because my best friend was like, “You should do music and treat it like a job,” and eventually taking it seriously really paid off.
I hope kids growing up in a similar kind of context can relate to that because anything’s possible, and it just takes time for people to see that, but eventually, it pans out.
You can read the full interview in issue 391 featuring 100 Artists You Need To Know.