320 kbps, LAME-encoded
Please note: Due to manufacturing delays, LPs and CDs will ship in early August
It's 2020, and everyone is exhausted. Things are falling apart, and then there's the day-to-day stress of simply existing in the modern world. Screens are everywhere, we're all tethered to our phones and social media; trying to keep up with it all seems just as impossible as unplugging altogether, especially when we're all feeling that neverending push to always be productive—inspiration and motivation be damned.
For NYC artist Photay (a.k.a. Evan Shornstein), none of this is particularly conducive to living a healthy existence, let alone being creative, but he's decided to face it head on. Waking Hours, his second full-length (following 2017's Onism), is a meditation on time and, more specifically, our obsessive need to fill every moment with activity. "It's about getting back to a really simple notion of just celebrating your existence and not necessarily attaching this huge story of who you are and what you do," he says. "It's about finding comfort in just being."
Photay's search for calm is at the very core of Waking Hours, and while he admits that making the album was therapeutic, it shouldn't be mistaken for some sort of healing ambient excursion. The LP is largely electronic, but frequently verges on pop and extensively features Shornstein's own vocals. The music is intimate and inviting, but it also suggests that Photay is perhaps at his best when he's blurring genre boundaries. "I really truly love so many different types of music," he says, "and for this album I opened things up and gave myself the freedom to go anywhere."
Note From Evan Shornstein:
"In the process of writing this record I felt a growing sensitivity to time and impermanence, questioning how I spend my waking hours versus how I should spend my waking hours. Perhaps this is a product of growing older, or living in New York City, or maybe just our culture? I made this record in a city as opposed to Onism which was primarily conceived in the woods of upstate NY. This time around I felt challenged by my own notions of “productivity.” Waking Hours is a reflection of my own drive and an omnipresent feeling that we’re never doing enough. I think this pressure is exacerbated by the times we live in and not strictly unique to our physical location. Up until very recently, the pace of our world has been speeding up. This speed has felt normalized by our culture, our peers, our technology and our screens. Moving slowly, being still, doing nothing, spending time “off the grid” feels like the highest form of rebellion.
Fast-forward to present day and the current pandemic crisis, a vast majority of us have been forced to do just that. Most of our busy lives have been put on hold, forcing us into uninvited stillness. Does this shift our priorities? Our consumption? Does it change the way we think about our lives? How we spend our time … our waking hours?
This record navigates through the times we live in. A response to cultural pressures and social norms. In these controversial times, I am asking questions and creating lyrical reminders. The lyrics are a daily meditation. Sentiments to revisit over and over again as our lives ebb and flow.
This album is about time, stillness and peace within."