With its endlessly unpredictable fusion of alt-R&B and classic singer/songwriter pop, Alt Bloom offers the sonic equivalent of that purposeful escape: warmly textured and wonderfully unhurried, its songs unfold with a subtle hypnotic power, and ultimately invite the dreamy introspection that leads to much-needed self-discovery.
Alt Bloom represents the joyful outcome of a lifetime of soul-searching for Ethan Thompson, a multi-instrumentalist whose first musical creation was a handmade songbook assembled for his piano teacher when he was just seven. Collaborating with his close friend Brian Phillips (a producer/engineer known for his work with COIN, Walk the Moon, and Saint Motel), Thompson trusted his musical intuition with more boldness and imagination than ever before. Along with embracing the eclectic influence of the artists who’ve shaped his sensibilities over the years—everyone from Tom Petty to Stevie Wonder to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Mac Miller—Thompson reached a new level of open-heartedness in his lyrics. But while his storytelling reveals sometimes-painful truths about his dreams and frustrations, an utter lack of self- seriousness often finds Thompson packaging those confessions in tongue-in-cheek wordplay, and infusing a certain humor into each track.
Now based in L.A., Thompson hikes the local mountains at least once a week but continues to name the 10-hour-long, largely off-trail trek up Mount Siyeh in Montana, as his all- time most treasured journey—and a perfect metaphor for the instinct-driven creativity he brought to his new project. “For about a third of the hike you’re mostly guessing your way up the mountain,” Thompson notes. “You’re just scrambling and scrambling, and at some point it seems impossible that you’ll ever get to the top. And then once you finally make it there’s such a feeling of serenity, and it gives you a bird’s-eye view of all these things that usually weigh so heavily on your mind. Everything else falls away, and all that matters is that feeling of connection with this beautiful unknown that’s so much bigger than you.
When dreaming up songs for his new project Alt Bloom, L.A.-based singer/songwriter Ethan Thompson aims for a total lack of inhibition, a deliberate freedom in mining the musical inspiration that most deeply resonates with him. On songs like “Potential,” that means leaning into his lifelong love of hip-hop, in part by taking a distinctly rhythm-driven approach to his vocal delivery. “I’ve always loved hip-hop and loved freestyling, and with Alt Bloom I finally felt comfortable enough with myself to really show that in my music,” Thompson points out.
With its warped beats and airy grooves, “Potential” brings Thompson’s graceful flow to a lighthearted look at the lovely confusion of falling for someone, his lyrics putting a gently flirty twist on the classic seduction jam (sample line: “Come put your heart up on my sleeve”). “So much of Alt Bloom comes from never taking ourselves all that seriously, and letting ourselves be a little goofy a lot of the time,” says Thompson. “We always know that if we’re listening back to a song and end up dancing around the room, then essentially we did something right.”