In a world where more people are making and releasing music than ever before, has the unlikely independent duo Almostalways found a new secret to getting music heard in 2021?
Almostalways consists of two friends, Max Whittaker and Jake Dahn, who have been making music together since 2014. After years of creating and producing music, they finally released their first EP, “All the Things That You’ll Never Know,” in 2019 and have been releasing new music consistently ever since. They have since released two albums and another EP.
Most would agree that this is an impressive amount of content within two years. But when it comes to Almostalways, it is even more impressive considering their situation. Whittaker is a full-time nursing student at California Baptist University and Dahn, a freelance videographer in LA, works at an art gallery. They also live over an hour away from each other.
While recording and producing separately, the band has been able to work on content by sending projects back and forth. Whittaker writes the music and records the main guitar parts and vocals and sends it to Dahn to add different production elements and synths and ultimately give it that Almostalways sound. Once they have done this with a whole project, they will get together to finish it.
“If I can describe it in any way it’s like we’re both working on the same sculpture and I want it to look like a person,” Whittaker said. “I can give it arms and legs and stuff, but it doesn’t have any features and then I can give it to Jake and he’ll like carve a face into it.”
Jacob Holcomb, sophomore applied theology major and independent artist, shared his thoughts on Almostalways’ music and the feelings it creates.
“Almostalways is a type of refreshing familiarity,” Holcomb said. “The music is unique and creative but feels so personal and genuine. It’s evident that lots of heart comes directly from the artist into the music.”
Almostalways has a very different and peaceful sound. Whittaker explained it as the type of music that is difficult to market because it is hard to fit into one genre. This has made it a challenge for Almostalways to get their music in front of listeners and gain more attention.
“I feel like it’s been more of making amends with the fact that it’s not successful in any way,” Whittaker said. “But that’s not a depressing thing. The music gets used in ways I didn’t think it would, also. But overall, we have a pretty low listener count generally. At first I was kind of bummed like spending a lot of time to make something I’d hoped people would hear.”
Whittaker expressed feelings that a lot of independent artists are feeling in today’s age of modern music. With more people creating and releasing music, it is difficult for independent artists to be heard. But Almostalways may have found the secret to getting independent music heard in 2021.
Almostalways released their single “Sisyphus” in May 2020, and it uses the imagery of the figure from Greek mythology Sisyphus, whose tale Whittaker connected to on a personal level and wanted to use for something he was going through at the time.
“So, that song, at first no one ever listened to it, and then out of nowhere, I checked my stats, and I don’t know where it started but probably a good six months later all of a sudden it got added to all these Greek theme playlists.” Whittaker explained. “There’s like eight. And one of them is kind of popular so, oddly enough, we’ve been able to get a good amount of listens from them.”
Unknowingly, Almostalways found their way into a small community of listeners that focuses on music about Greek mythology or that makes references to Greek mythology in their lyrics. An entire subgenre that expands over many playlists consists of thousands of committed listeners. Being put on almost 10 of these playlists has shot up Almostalways monthly listeners from about 180 to over 1,500.
“That’s small for an established artist, but for us that’s huge.” Whittaker shared. “That’s more than we’ve ever had.”
Through connecting to this small but intimate subgenre, Almostalways is finally starting to get the attention their music deserves. Independent artists struggle to get heard by audiences and have to think of new and creative ways to get noticed. In this case of Almostalways, it was by accident. But will Almostalways use this newfound success of this single to make more music to fit this audience?
“If Almostalways has an ethos to it, it’s being authentic as possible, so, if I can authentically make another song about a myth and mean it, then I will. But it would feel contrary to the color of the band to be like ‘Oh, this works so I’m gonna do it again you know?”
Dahn, shared his thoughts about the band’s unique sound and authenticity.
“I don’t think that Almostalways is meant for everybody,” Dahn said. “Lyrically and sonically it’s totally different from a lot of music. We could very easily turn it into a pop-indie band using different sounds and music techniques, but Almostalways kind of turned into this really unique little universe of really cool deep lyrics and fun sonic textures.”
Accepting the fact that their music will not reach a lot of people, Almostalways is not willing to hurt the integrity of their music to keep building on wht they have experienced. Through this success, it shows that listeners are connecting with the music and listening to more.
This is the push that the band needed to get their music heard and reach more fans. Through staying true to themselves and continuing to create authentically vulnerable music, it is safe to say they will continue to build, reach more listeners, connect more hearts and create more fans.
“Sisyphus,” as well as the rest of Almostalways’ music content is available on all streaming platforms. Listeners can look forward to where this new success will take them as a band.