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.”