Eyedress on ‘Mulholland Drive,’ self-image & how nostalgia inspires him
Eyedress has released his new album, Mulholland Drive. Alongside the new record, we bring you our cover story from issue 396.
I met Eyedress (aka Idris Vicuña) in the middle of the pandemic when he cold DMed me to collaborate on a track for his new album. It was a refreshing encounter. His ask pulled me out of my creative funk, and working on a track from afar with a new homie was exciting. After all, he’s down for anything. He pairs an eagerness to get things done with a relaxed attitude.
Eyedress has a knack for injecting excitement in you. Getting into his work, looking through all of his music videos (there are so many) and keeping up with all the new music and clothing drops was thrilling for me as a faraway friend and fan. He creates enthusiasm simply with consistency, and his ability to genre-jump like crazy left me feeling a little intimidated. Finally sitting down with Vicuña in L.A. at his home off Mulholland Drive, meeting in person was the opposite of that propulsive attitude that I saw online. We sat on his front porch, smoked some weed from Seth Rogen’s Houseplant brand and here’s what unfolded.
You talk about how the Philippines was a rough place to grow up, but what about it do you miss that is nostalgic to you? What are the things you can’t get here in the U.S.?
Mainly my parents and my little brother, but I miss the fake knockoff stuff. There’s this shopping center called Greenhills. You just find a bunch of bootleg stuff there. I never bought any. I just always thought it was cool. You’d find a ton of fake Supreme, fake off-whites, you know? I’d just go there to laugh.
I notice you include Elvia in everything you’re doing. Is that a conscious choice, or are you just always kicking it? How does your relationship intertwine with your art-making?
Well, Elvia moved to L.A. to be with me, so we’re just always together—she comes to every shoot. Sometimes the director will have a concept that doesn’t have her in mind, and I’ll always be like, “Wait a minute, where’s my girlfriend?” It’s funny: I’ve had to tell some people, “Yo, I can’t be with no other girls in these videos.” Some people will write stuff as if it’s a movie and I’m acting, but I just can’t. My girl is always down. We always made videos, too. When she first moved here, we had a lot of time to ourselves, so we’d just go out and film.
Yeah, it’s a conscious choice. As she wouldn’t exclude me from things in her life, I wouldn’t exclude her from what I do. Even in animated videos, she’s in it. When I love someone, I do everything with them. She’s coming on tour with me. She can trigger a sample. She knows how to play the guitar, too. Watch, me and Elvia gonna start a band with lil Boaty. We’ll see. That’d be cool.
I think a lot of artists find the one style that’s working for them and stick with it and never deviate. But you are really good at making music in a lot of different genres, and I love the fact that you let your creativity go off in these different directions. What do you think it is about your brain that allows you to so freely jump from making beat tapes or rapping or doing indie rock?
I guess just because I grew up on all of it. I remember being young and, “Oh, we’re on the way to the club, and we’re just gonna play some rap shit like Lil Wayne.” And then, “Oh, I want to go to a show. Radio Dept. is playing. I wanna go to that, too.” It was just like that.
I grew up on TRL, so I had that well-roundedness. I feel like [with] TRL, you’d see hip-hop on TV, [but] you’d [also] get the best of the rock stuff. I got into shit no one listened to. Once I went in that direction, [I] started digging for stuff. I think it was hip-hop, though, that made me like older rock music ’cause I’d see hip-hop producers sample ’60s psych-rock shit, and I’d be like, “Oh, this ’60s psych-rock shit is fire, bro!” I’d discover shit like that, too. It was weird because I thought if I did research on all that rock shit, I’d find a lot more info on it, but it really came through from the hip-hop stuff. I thought, “That’s a crazy way to find new bands.” Before that, I was only finding music from skate videos and magazines.
You’re really good at linking and building. Any tips for fans who are out there making music on how to get in touch with their favorite artists or how to connect with the people around them to make a community from music?
I think I’m like this because I just help and extend my hand. I’m really serious about my work, so if someone is going to work, I’m going to work too and do my best. No matter who it is, whether it’s someone on some folk shit or some hip-hop shit. As long as I know the end result is going to be fire. Everyone’s just trying to do their thing. Like with skating, I didn’t care who I skated with, as long as they wanted to skate. Now it’s music, so it’s [like], “Who wants to record? Who wants to film a video for the song that we just recorded?”
Just put yourself out there. I met everyone organically somehow. It comes with your timing, where you’re at in your life [and] who you surround yourself with. That’s really the thing—who you surround yourself with. I used to be surrounded by people trying to drag me down. Now I feel like I’m just surrounded by people all trying to do the same thing, you know? Just kill it. Everyone I know, especially in L.A., they’re all just trying to get to the next chapter in their life. We’re all here creating with each other, trying to do what’s going to make us happy the next day. Every new song is a new joy for me.
Is there usually no budget for your videos?
For the ones that are just on VHS, no. I just want to make shit ’cause sometimes reality just looks cool. It’s easier on a VHS cam. It’s just gonna look cool. Just the little effort that goes behind it is all it takes, and you can have infinite shit. I bought a Sonic Youth DVD in the Philippines, and it had all of their videos in it. I thought, “Damn, I want to make one of these one day.” You can compile all this shit one day, interviews, every fucking thing and then just sell it as one big DVD. “Buy my life,” but you have to have a lot of cool shit on it so people are like, “OK, this is actually tight.” That’s why I have a lot of vids. I just want to make shit. I just get so bored.
I really like that video you just dropped for “Spit On Your Grave.”
That one was very hot. [Laughs.] I was wearing a suit the whole time. It’s summer in L.A., [and] we had to film in a warehouse with no air conditioning, but we got it done. It’s work sometimes. The director did his best to make it comfortable. Brvinfreeze did the “Jealous” video, but this was his first HD video. He used a red cam and shit, and I was like, “Dude, you should throw some of your cool analog VHS shit in there.” He was like, “No, just let me have this!”
But yeah, he originally just made shit on VHS, so it was cool for him to have a crew and have people just get shit done for him so he could just focus on directing. He was so worried. That video was so hard to make. I was the positive energy for him saying, “Everything’s going to be fine.” He’s just that kind of artist. [He] worries about every detail.
Now that you’re a father, do you feel like you’re making any changes in the things you sing about or trying to actively change anything about your music because of that fact?
No, especially with rap shit. It’s just getting more toxic. [Laughs.] I’m a healthy person. I’m with my family every day. I practice what I preach. Did it change anything? I’m not going to write a bad song about my girlfriend, even if we go through shit. I’m not gonna put her on blast. There’s nothing to hide. I always keep it real. My next single is about my parents.
You got the new album Mulholland Drive dropping soon. Did you notice any lyrical themes that kept coming up when you were writing? What’s your favorite song off the new album [or] the song you’re most proud of?
I love all of them. I’m proud of all of them. Just to make this album and have this clear mindset, it’s different for me. It’s still the same shit, though. I was so clouded making all my previous albums. This one was like, “Oh damn, I get to work with all my favorite artists. I get to sit in the backseat sometimes.” I sent you my song, and you added layers of your world into it. I felt at ease. Everyone I asked wanted to be on it. It was just beautiful. People just wanted to be there. It’s a milestone for me. Not in an accolade way, just in a way that I never thought I’d get to this point.
It’s so fun when you get to work with people you always wanted to work with.
Yeah, but that wasn’t the goal. This album was just a celebration for me. The only deep thing is really a song about my family and songs that talk about me and Elvia’s relationship. There’s a lot of those, but one that stands out is “Body Dysmorphia” because after her pregnancy, she was really putting herself down with how she looked. It’s fucked up. I have fucked-up teeth, so I feel that way too sometimes.
I tried to get her to focus on what’s inside, her beautiful qualities. I’m the same type of person. I post a lot of pictures of myself, but I’m actually mad self-conscious. I was born in the slums. Especially people in the Philippines [who] would say I had the abs of a street person. Shit hurts, bro. When I was growing up, I was so skinny. I ate so much, too. I just had a fast metabolism.
So you say you’re self-conscious, and I was going to ask why you always wear sunglasses in every photo and video. Is there any correlation to that self-consciousness?
I just don’t feel confident being seen the way I look without shades. I hate being in front of the camera—that’s why I wear shades. I used to take Valium at all my first shoots when I was starting to film. I used to pop Valium and get fucked up and try to forget that I’m doing all this stuff in front of the camera. It’s so uncomfortable, but my best friend was a director, and I was trying to help him execute his vision. He’d be like, “Dude, stop being a pussy. Just fucking do this,” and I’d just suck it up and be stressed and self-conscious and feel like, “I look so dumb.” Even with the rap videos, I feel so dumb. Everything that I film, I feel dumb.
Do you feel more confident now lately, or is it the same?
I’ll never change. I’m still the same person. I don’t think that material shit will ever change. It will always come out. That toxicity just bleeds into everything I do.
This cover story appeared in issue 396, available here.