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Launder's Breathy Shoegaze Should Turn Him Into an Indie Star

Listen to John Cudlip's first project as Launder, produced by Day Wave's Jackson Phillips, and featuring DIIV's Zachary Cole Smith and French singer-songwriter Soko.

Alex Robert Ross

Alex Robert Ross

Photo: Sara Corona

You won't find much online about John Cudlip, the Californian singer-songwriter and guitarist who makes hazy, driving shoegaze music as Launder. Though his new five-song EP, Pink Cloud, sounds assured—dreamlike but measured, heady but still reachable—this is the 27-year-old artist's first release. In fact, he only played his first proper show two weeks ago, at The Factory in Los Angeles. "It went great," he says. "It was perfect. It couldn't have really gone any better."

Still, Pink Cloud, streaming below ahead of its release tomorrow, is the product of years of tinkering. Cudlip grew up listening to his dad's classic rock records and graduated to Harry Nilsson and The Zombies before settling into the more airy music that would inform Launder: John Phillips, Pavement, the Brian Jonestown Massacre. He wrote around loops, picking out guitar melodies and running them over one another until something stuck.

But unlike the bedroom songwriters who've taken over in recent years—Alex G, Lucy Dacus, Dylan Baldi, Soccer Mommy—who seem to thrive on isolation in their writing, Cudlip emphasized collaboration throughout the whole process of Launder's EP. Day Wave's Jackson Phillips produced all five songs on Pink Cloud, French singer-songwriter Soko sings backup on four of them, and Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV (a friend of Cudlip's for years) plays guitar on two. As Cudlip sees it, Launder offered everyone the opportunity to branch out for a little while. "It was just fun for everybody," he says. "I think with DIIV or Day Wave, everyone else's project has a direction. This was something brand new where people could go in any direction."

He tried to cultivate that atmosphere, too: "I didn't want to be too pushy about it. I think I trust everybody else; they really could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. I was really into everything Cole was doing on guitar, for example: it was natural, it didn't really take long, it fell into place really quickly."

The three already-released singles from the EP—"Annie Blue," "Fade," and "Keep You Close"—seem to have picked themselves. The first two fall back on looping, laconic guitar lines that would play as well in an arena as they would inside a small club in LA. Those are the songs that will likely turn Cudlip into an indie rock fixture over the next year or so. But he's got a brilliant knack for melody, and he knows when to let a song breathe. "Wonder" is a glacially paced song, delivered in breathy whispers, exhaling into its chorus whenever it gets the chance. There's more than enough here to suggest that Launder could construct a fascinating full-length. He already has "a bunch of demos" ready to go, and he's anxious to have an LP out before the year ends.

In the meantime, listen to Pink Cloud below.

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