Drifting in from Seattle, singer-songwriter, alternative recording artist, and producer Thavoron gifts us with a cathartic and transcendent 9-track album entitled, 'Ugly.'
Growing up on artists like Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, The Smiths, and Fleetwood Mac led Thavoron into the realms of creative artistry, which would later shape into a raw and poignant alternative sound. Now residing somewhere between the sounds of BANKS, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, FKA twigs, and Charli XCX, Thavoron not only strives to connect with the listener but to pave the way for Southeast/Asian-American and queer artists alike.
Introducing ourselves to Thavoron's new album, 'Ugly,' we're met with the upbeat introductory track, "Chevrolet." As a heavy and crunchy rhythm guitar takes off into this lively alternative atmosphere, Thavoron makes his way in and tells a story of passion and vulnerability. While wearing his heart on his sleeve and drenching us in his breathy and whispery vocals, Thavoron offers a deeply reflective and detailed lyrical portrayal that anyone can relate to. The worry and passion in his vocals, paired with the song's melodic and rhythmic instrumentals, are food for the soul.
Moving into the delicate second track, "You," Thavoron opens the song with a melancholy and chilling acoustic guitar melody alongside his ghostly reverbed vocals that sing a haunting and emotional song. We love the softness of this piece; Thavoron does an impeccable job of painting all sorts of heavenly scenes in our imagination while his vocals sway with the distant and tender acoustic guitar. Once a plucky and revered electric guitar picks its way in, instant chills run through the spine and send us into sonic bliss.
Hitting play on track number three, "strangers," the song gently opens with a plucky acoustic guitar, a downtempo kick drum, and soft shakers. As Thavoron makes his soothing and tranquil vocal appearance, he begins to reflect on how he and his partner were once strangers but have built a love like no other. As we move into the hook, Thavoron continues to sing a desirous and sensual message while paying a sweet and endearing tribute to someone who makes his world go round. A brilliant cinematic and Americana outro then closes the song with nothing but emotion.
Making our way into the fourth track, "Run," we're greeted with a hazy and dreamy alternative soundscape through warm acoustic guitar melodies and Thavoron's reverbed vocals. He jumps into the thrilling hook while telling an honest and vulnerable tale of loving someone a bit too hard and finding ways to ruin the good things in life. We love the anthemic feel of this dynamic piece; from the vibrant and electrifying hook to the soothing verses, Thavoron has truly showcased his creative abilities in terms of song structure and storytelling.
Reaching the album's halfway point with "bend, or," the song opens with the distant sound of a child's laughter and a delicate acoustic guitar melody. Thavoron later makes his whispery and chilling vocal appearance while laying it all on the line and making his saddened emotions known. The ongoing appearance of a child's voice in the background evokes this sense of nostalgia and how we were once these innocent beings who later grew up to face the world's harsh realities. As Thavoron makes his way to the outro while making some upsetting realizations, he closes the song with immense emotion and introspection.
Onto track number six, "Change," a melancholy electric guitar arrangement melts through our speakers alongside Thavoron's soft and revered vocals. We can feel a similar vocal affinity to acts like Cigarettes After Sex, especially when paired with the distant and emotional instrumentals. Listening to Thavoron's lyricism, he portrays his love while remembering the tragedies that come with involving himself with this specific person, a reality that far too many have to face. Thus far, we adore how Thavoron crafted the record to be a sonic reflection of pages from a diary.
Drifting into track number seven, "I REMEMBER YOU," a heavy, emotional, grunge-like electric guitar haunts our speakers in nothing but sadness and reflection. As Thavoron begins to serenade us with his soothing and dreamy vocal stylings, he enlightens us on the memories of a lover and their many peaks and valleys. Once again, we're wowed with Thavoron's chilling vocals that deliver the utmost debilitating and gut-wrenching emotions alongside his twinkling and fragile sonic landscape. We're also wildly impressed with his ability to connect with any individual who finds themselves in turbulent and challenging love affairs.
Brightening the atmosphere with the eighth track, "for your love," the song opens with a shimmering and sparkling electric guitar that later halts and allows Thavoron's angelic vocal range to shine in the spotlight. This song offers a slightly filtered sonic landscape, where Thavoron's vocals and the accompanying instrumentals sound like they're through a phone, representing some sort of miscommunication or distance. This is a shorter piece, longer than an interlude, but more minimal than any other song on the album, perfectly portraying a relationship's demise.
Last but certainly not least, we make our way to the outro and title track, "Ugly," which opens with a melodic and somewhat upbeat acoustic guitar melody. As we greet Thavoron's otherwordly vocals one last time, we must mention that he has this innate way to capture our undivided attention with each melody, lyric, and emotion he so perfectly portrays. We truly appreciate the heaven-sent instrumentals and overall atmosphere that Thavoron brings to this beautiful outro piece; he closes the album on an emotional note of acceptance, which anyone can relate with.
Feel seen and heard with Thavoron's latest 9-track album, 'Ugly,' now available on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Thavoron. We highly appreciate the overall relatable and emotional approach you've taken with your latest album, 'Ugly.' Where did you find inspiration to create this record?
Thank you so much! I found the inspiration to create this record after releasing my debut EP, 'Bold,' feeling like I had taken this huge mask off and showcased my art fully for the first time in my life. I wanted to take it a step further and create a project that speaks to topics I know best- the ugliness of life, especially your twenties. Going through situations where I've minimized myself to fit into someone else's world or not giving myself the love I fully deserve, it's all really ugly. But learning to see past that to find beauty in all situations in life is what I think this album is about.
When crafting the sonics and instrumentals for 'Ugly,' did you have any artistic influences in mind? Were there any artists or bodies of work that helped shape the record?
When crafting the sonics, I wanted to channel my indie/alternative/folk influences.. some artists that have helped push that would be Faye Webster, beabadoobee, Gracie Abrams, Phoebe Bridgers & Maggie Rogers.
Did you work entirely solo when creating the record, 'Ugly?' Or did you collaborate with anyone to help bring your vision to life?
I actually produced the whole album myself. Most of the songs on it are songs that I wrote as little poem entries here and there. They develop and write themselves, honestly. I'm just a messenger for my emotions. Some songs such as 'bend, or' and 'I REMEMBER YOU' I threw ideas around with my best friend, Aislinn Hall. She's not a musician but an amazing writer, and I have so much fun writing with her.
Which song from 'Ugly' was the most challenging to create in terms of emotion and vulnerability?
I think the song that was the most challenging to create in terms of emotion and vulnerability would be 'I REMEMBER YOU.' I went through so many different demos of the song, trying to specifically translate emotion sonically. It originally sounded super upbeat. But the slowness, reverb, and lingering of the song are so reminiscent of the feeling of fantasizing over someone and remembering things the way you want to instead of seeing them at face value, simply because it's easier. This was abhorrent- coming to terms that these are real feelings I'm going through and then leaving to muster up the courage to brave myself for the rest of the world to hear how I felt in this specific situation.
How did you want to make your audience feel when listening to 'Ugly?' What impact did you want the record to have?
The only emotion or impact I want anything I ever put out to evoke is a sense of validation and understanding. I feel like as a queer Cambodian-American artist, it's hard to fully relate to songs that aren't written from your perspective, so I want to offer anyone within that intersection (or even out of) to feel seen in my music. That's all I can ever ask for.