Sacred spaces can trick you. There’s a breathless power in the impossible angles of vaulted cathedral ceilings—a special stillness in the way afternoon light hits stained glass. Such environments can take your breath away whether you’re a believer or not. It’s a sentiment that the songwriter Adam Klopp, who works with under the name Choir Boy, knows all too well.
“My earliest experiences participating in music were in a religious context—hymns being sung by the congregation, and then church choir,” he writes over email. “I remember a few specific instances feeling a powerful sensation while singing a hymn and I’d associate that feeling with the veracity of its content. I think a lot of people hold onto those memories when they’re experiencing dissonance with their faith.”
Especially given the name—which was originally bestowed upon him as a tween as a barb at his religious upbringing—that history is easy to project on the music he’s made over the last couple of years. Even when he’s writing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters or penning classic love songs, as he did on his 2016 album Passive With Desire, there’s a sense of regal devotion that permeates the material, a quiet stillness that’s hard to shake. “I definitely reference and play with concepts and scales that would be present in some more modern sacred music,” he admits.
Klopp is also sure to emphasize that his religious childhood isn’t the only thing that informed his music. As much as hymns sparked some of his earliest musical experiences, he also points to a long love of pop music as fuelling Choir Boy, beginning with a record of Muppets’ Beach Boys covers he listened to when he was a small child. After detours through the punk music, cut short by hernia surgery (“If I tried to say ‘Oi’ out loud I would probably get another hernia,” he deadpans) he’s settled on a version of pop music that lives somewhere in the subconscious—resurfacing strange memories and reinterpreting old mythologies in hypnagogic synthesizer leads.
“Sunday Light,” a new single released today, does draw on Klopp’s history in the church. It’s the sort of song that overwhelms you. Buried in the vaporous synth lines and swooning vocals—which recall the 80s most dreamily sedated synth pop hits—is a sense of quietude and piety that echoes the architecture, if not the spirit of holy spaces. To wit, Klopp says that the song in part meant to grapple with the strangeness of religious ritual. “My experiences with it were unfavorable,” He said. “I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect because it’s considered a sacred ceremony and is therefore highly secretive. Despite the murmurs of weirdness I’d heard prior to my first encounter, I was still pretty shocked.”
There’s not much of a sense of that in the song itself—which is as magnificent a piece of music as Klopp has recorded to date—but the lyrics trade in the secrecy and confusion of ceremony: “You are one of us, one of us, one of us, you are one of us.”
It’s eerie and upsetting but still a beautiful song nevertheless, so you should listen here in advance of the release of the 7″ on October 20 on Dais.
Choir Boy tour dates:
October 14 – San Diego @ Space*
October 15 – Los Angeles @ Echoplex*
*with SRSQ (ex-Them Are Us Too) and Some Ember
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