Arts & Entertainment, Lifestyle, Reviews

Artist to Watch: glaive

At 16 years old, I was getting my driver’s license, stressing about Advanced Placement exams and spending too much money on Starbucks after school. At 16, Ash Gutierrez is making what I consider to be the future of hyperpop.

Hyperpop is a relatively new musical movement characterized by catchy hooks and somewhat chaotic production. It takes general pop music and puts it on steroids, latching onto more outlandish sounds that can be overwhelming at first. However, the production is addictive, and I find myself coming back to these songs more than I ever expected. These songs give me the same rush as chugging a Starbucks cold brew. I can’t help but dance along to the electronic sounds blasting through my Airpods.

The genre has been steadily gaining popularity throughout the 2010s, with popular artists including Charli XCX and the late producer and icon SOPHIE. Though it may not appeal to the radio or the general public, hyperpop has a dedicated fanbase.

One of the most promising young artists to venture into the genre is Ash Gutierrez, who releases music under the name glaive.

North Carolina-based artist glaive began releasing music in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, glaive has two EPs: “cypress grove” and “all dogs go to heaven” out on streaming services. At such a young age, he signed to Interscope Records, home to incredible stars such as Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, J. Cole and Olivia Rodrigo.

My favorite body of work from glaive is “all dogs go to heaven,” his newest project and an essential listen for fans of hyperpop. Even general pop fans may find a hidden gem in this incredible release.

Here, glaive fully leans into the controlled chaos of hyperpop, especially on songs like “stephany” and “i wanna slam my head against the wall” — my personal favorite.

“i wanna slam my head against the wall” begins acoustically, with a guitar leading in the background. The production quickly changes to the faster-paced electronic sound glaive is known for. The song describes his desire for numbness, his struggle with a breakup and his disillusionment with celebrities, all sung over a beat that never fails to get me dancing.

glaive spotify artist page
Hyperpop musician glaive’s page on Spotify. Sixteen-year-old Ash Gutierrez began releasing music in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and has since been signed to a notable record label. ILLUSTRATION BY SHANNON DAMIANO/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

“all dogs go to heaven” is deceptive. The production, like on “i wanna slam my head against the wall,” is exciting and fast, but none of the songs on the EP are particularly happy. “1984” burns with anger at an ex-lover while “synopsis” takes some blame for the demise of a relationship yet attempting to make things right. I find myself torn between dancing to the immaculate production and crying at the painful lyrics.

glaive’s songs are unexpectedly mature and nuanced. He has a strong connection to his emotions and can expertly communicate them in relatable ways. He also has a strong grasp on his sound, something many young artists take a long time to find. 

Relatability in music is immensely important to me. I don’t mean music that relates to my personal experience, but music that can communicate a feeling or situation in a way that even I — who did not go through the same thing — can feel. glaive does this so well that I keep coming back to his music. 

I was a bit thrown off when I found out he was so young. I expected a project that sounded transitional, like a young artist trying to find his niche in the massive music landscape. However, his EP “all dogs go to heaven” is shockingly mature and sure of itself. It’s full of moments that feel like they come from a seasoned artist, not one who began releasing music less than two years ago. It is an extremely impressive feat and showcases glaive’s incredible talent.

I don’t say this often, but it is definitely a must-listen for those curious about hyperpop, fans of hyperpop and anyone who enjoys good, fun music that packs a punch.

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