"Recently relocated to Seattle from Denton, Texas, Sundae Crush has delivered a LP that could easily have been called Hushed. It’s a gentle, quiet, soothing record—the kind of cozy bedroom pop you play underneath the blankets while it rains outside your window, or while you’re picnicking in your backyard on a sunny day. But there’s something a little weirder and fuzzier around the edges of Crushed than there is in its mid-2000s twee forebears. Under its bright and shiny exterior is a lot of sadness and anxiety—truly reflecting the dual meanings of its title. Take “Chat Room Messages,” which begins with the whispered, pared-down whimsy of a lovestruck Belle and Sebastian song before revealing itself as a story about total disappointment. “Hey you don’t know/I read, your chatroom messages,” the song goes, “Okay well never mind/I’m not going to stick around and waste my time.” Over warbling chords and aimless, cheery guitar plucks, “Ice Cream Run” sounds at first like a cutesy, if slightly off-kilter, ode to a chilled-out summer. “The sun is out and the sky is turning pink/I got some In-N-Out and I don’t know what to think.” Suddenly the song turns into a repeated mantra of self-doubt: “I know that it’s true/He doesn’t like you/He doesn’t like you.” That slight, easy-to-miss tinge of darkness and despair turns Sundae Crush’s pleasant, dreamy songcraft into something a lot more intriguing and complex than that of their sonic peers."
Sundae Crush sound exactly like what their name implies: the feelings of eating ice cream sundaes and the unrequited love of having a crush. That’s not an easy balance to strike, at least not with the level of tenderness and affection that Sundae Crush infuses into their music. The Seattle via Denton, Texas dream-pop act weave chat room laments with irl sadness, resulting in a vibrant sound that’s just as easy to dance to as it is to wallow in your own feelings. We caught up with the band to talk about how the merge these ideas, the penchant for bright colors, and their first ever AOL Instant Messenger screen names.
You’re originally from Denton, Texas. What brought you out to Seattle?
We had a lot of friends moving up here after finishing college – for work, relationships, the music scene. The south is tough to be in sometimes with sexism and racism still very present, even at shows. It feels like there’s much more space here. We love the enthusiasm towards music and natural beauty of this city.
Whenever I read about or hear about your music, it’s always brought up how vibrant and colorful it feels. What draws you to such jubilant sounds in your music and aesthetic?
Maybe it has something to do with how 1/2 of our band are designers. Maybe cause we’re friends. Maybe we’re having fun.
Beneath the shimmer and humor, there’s a lot of longing and heartbreak on the new record as well. Do you find it’s easier to cope with these types of feelings through bright colors and snark?
Definitely. I go through darker feelings, but when it comes to dealing with it, bright colors and snark are fun ways to grieve. It’s not really humor to me, these are all personal songs, but I think the situation itself can be so ridiculously terrible that it can be funny. (Finding terrible things written about you in chatrooms, toxic masculinity, dating people who aren’t true to you, seeing someone for there internet persona).
You recently played a double-release show with fellow local act Baywitch, who also directed your “Dating Game 3000” music video. How did you get connected with Lila? Have you found the Seattle arts and music community easy to integrate into?
We played a show together that I (Jena) set up with a booker via Tinder. So technically, we met through Tinder. When we played together, we just hit it off. I think it was hard starting out because we were all new to the city, but was easier after we actually started to know people and make friends.
Your latest EP, Crushed, opens with a track called “Chat Room Messages” and it even samples the AOL Instant Messenger sound effects. Care to share your first AIM screennames?
For newcomers to your band, what can people expect from your set at FolkLife?
Sounds like your friend is holding your hand about to buy you ice cream after a weird day. Matching jumpsuits.
More daydream pop than dream pop, the songs have a light and gauzy vibe that never fully transcends reality, the whole thing remaining personal and grounded despite the escapist tendencies.
Tracks like ‘Chat Room Messages’ and ‘Ice Cream Run’ are anthems for bedroom kids of our generation, finding solace not in vast soundscapes or grand adventure, but rather TV and the internet. Which isn’t to say the whole thing isn’t beautiful―the half-paced, blissed-out ‘Swept’ is like lying in the bathtub and imagining you’re bobbing down some lukewarm river, and the pastel-coloured heart-ache of ‘Dating Game 3000’ and ‘Contestant’ provide some much needed comfort for your worried mind.