In the dark, cavernous space of Los Angeles’ 1720 venue downtown, the lights went out, ambient chords played over the speakers, and a countdown started ticking on the screen. Excited cheers echoed through the crowd. BolderBeat was lucky enough to catch Crywolf (aka Justin Taylor Phillips) on the last stop of his U.S. tour for his latest album, widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I], and the night proved to be an unforgettable experience.
As the countdown ended and the room went pitch dark again, Crywolf took the stage and began to play the first haunting notes of the album’s opening track, “ATHETOSIS [here’s the lullaby you made me promise never to write].” And so began a tumultuous journey into the psyche of an artist whose specialty is taking listeners through a whirlwind of deep emotions.
Crywolf himself has evolved immensely over the years, from his start as a melodic dubstep artist and the release of his first Ghosts EP in 2013 when his recognition in the music world began. Over time his style grew and changed as he came to develop an emotional sound that straddles both the indie and electronic genres.
As an artist who deals with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, music has always served as an outlet for Crywolf. widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I] is an even further testimony to this fact. The album is largely inspired by the inner turmoil he experienced after getting his hard drive and thousands of dollars of equipment stolen in Chile. Flinging himself from piano to drums to guitar laced with his soulful falsetto, listeners got to experience a sliver of the passion that fuels his work.
His frenzy soon slowed as he stepped down from the stage and walked into the crowd. Haunting melodies that make up tracks like “Anachronism”, “Akureyri”, and “Slow Burn” from the debut 2015 album Cataclasm rang through the space and delighted his older fans. Attendees also got to hear a rendition of “Halloween, 1987”, a surprise to fans as he has said previously that he would never play that particular track live again. The crowd also got to watch a part of Crywolf’s recently debuted music video for “CEPHALOTUS”, which was shot completely underwater and features Phillips actually holding his breath for four minutes straight. He stated the inspiration behind it came from a desire to visualize his internal pain and struggle.
Crywolf’s fans are the very definition of what one would call a “cult following”, with every voice singing along ‘til the last note, and every face uplifted to the leader of their pack. Any person who wasn’t already converted left baptized in a turmoil of emotions.
We can’t wait to see where he takes us next. Keep up with Crywolf and stream widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I] here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.