Glaive Is Acing Hyperpop, Failing Math Class

Two years in the past, a shaggy-haired fifteen-year-old named Ash Gutierrez spent his free time enjoying video video games and streaming TV exhibits. He was no one particular on-line, both—his social-media accounts had been principally adopted by family and friends. Then COVID occurred, and his story—like so many individuals’s—modified. Gutierrez’s highschool, in Hendersonville, North Carolina, pivoted to distant studying. He sank into ennui. So he wrote a music known as “Life Is Ache” and recorded it with a microphone that he’d bought for gaming. Happy with the end result, he rechristened himself “glaive,” after a weapon from Darkish Souls III, a role-playing online game, and uploaded the monitor to Spotify.

Ash GutierrezIllustration by João Fazenda

Lots of people listened. Gutierrez recorded extra songs in his bed room: “Sick,” “Astrid,” “Pissed.” Inside a couple of months, he had whizzed by the steps that result in pop stardom—EP, report deal, tour announcement. He nonetheless managed to get to his Zoom chemistry class.

Talking over Zoom from his dimly lit bed room the opposite day, Gutierrez mirrored on his productiveness. “I might get upset so simply,” he mentioned, explaining the place his lyrics got here from. “I might in all probability get upset about something if I actually wished to”—even “that it’s too heat out.” Behind him had been partitions that he’d lined with Sharpie doodles within the type of Basquiat and lyrics he’d thought up and scribbled down. (“My mother mentioned if I get actually well-known she’s going to take the drywall and promote it.”) He was sporting a gold sweater, and his eyes peeked out from behind bleached curls that had been impressed by Afghan hounds. “I used to be, like, ‘I actually like the best way that canine appears,’ ” he mentioned. Different inspirations: ladies (“that’s at all times a kicker”), dwelling in a small city, and “simply, life, man!”

Gutierrez is seventeen now, and has a bouncy vitality that echoes his music. The b.p.m. (beats per minute) on his songs usually exceeds 100 and sixty, about twice the pace of a resting heartbeat. Beneath his Auto-Tuned vocals, he layers within the types of scratchy early-Web sounds that would have come from a Home windows 98 pc. A typical, Holden Caulfield-esque refrain goes, “I wanna slam my head towards the wall / She doesn’t actually like me, she likes alcohol.” The songs are like bite-size episodes of “Euphoria.”

Critics name the music hyperpop—a burgeoning style of maximalist techno dance pop. However Gutierrez doesn’t take into consideration labels. “I’m simply chilling,” he mentioned. He had no formal coaching, however discovered the singing a snap. “For some motive, I perceive keys and all that. And I nonetheless don’t actually know the best way to play the guitar. I’m not that good at enjoying the piano. However I’ve undoubtedly gotten higher over the previous 4 months.” YouTube tutorials and Reddit boards have helped.

It may be robust to make time for music, touring, and faculty, which is in-person once more. Generally he rapidly works at on-line math assignments in inexperienced rooms, minutes earlier than their deadlines. He leaned towards the display and whispered into his Neumann microphone. “My dad and mom don’t know this, however I’ve a 54 in math class proper now,” he mentioned. “With seventeen absences. And the max I can get is ten! However Imma finagle it. I promise. I’ve time.” He made a cringe face.

There’s additionally the problem of classmates who at the moment are followers. “There’s been some picture-taking in class bogs and ladies freaking out within the hallway,” he mentioned, squirming.

There’s loads to note. His wrists are wrapped in beaded bracelets. The blond hair is new. “I really feel like somewhat pop lady now,” he mentioned, cupping his face together with his arms, as if he had been Child June in “Gypsy.” His dad and mom and his sister are in his nook. He confirmed off his alternating lavender and cream fingernails with a high-beam smile. “My mother used to do it,” he mentioned, “however I’m actually good at it now.” He went on, “My mother’s at all times placing me on to stuff.” He talked about a shared love for the British grime rapper Skepta.

Math grades allowing, Gutierrez has laid out a fast-tracked commencement plan in order that he can get on together with his profession. A deluxe version of his 2021 EP “All Canines Go to Heaven” was not too long ago launched with 5 new songs, and final month he performed exhibits in Los Angeles and D.C.

After that, he’s undecided. “It’s no matter I would like, proper?” he mentioned. “I’d transfer to L.A. I may not. I’d transfer to, like, Delaware! I haven’t thought that far out.” ♦

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