Born Evan Windom, Saro makes “dark electronic-rooted R&B with gorgeous falsettos and grooves,” as one press release proclaims – and, honestly, that’s a spot-on assessment.
He’s been at it for a few years now, and his origin story in the music scene provides a shocking and entirely unexpected pop connection: he began by singing and writing with his close friend, the late Simone Battle. Yes, of GRL – a girl group that I covered in depth years ago.
Just when he was about to release his debut self-titled EP in 2014, Simone tragically committed suicide. It not only caused him to rethink his music, but take on a stage name as an homage to The Smiths‘ “Pretty Girls Make Graves.” (“And sorrow’s native son / He will not smile for anyone“).
He channelled his mourning into his eventual debut in 2016, called In Loving Memory. He’d later collaborate with Flight Facilities and tour with Miguel, and then release a second set called Boy Afraid at the end of 2017.
Comparisons aren’t always helpful, but I’d say that his music would fit in snugly in a playlist alongside acts like BANKS, Frank Ocean, James Blake and The Weeknd. Vocally, he gives me Olly Alexander of Years & Years vibes, as well as the sweet, language-transcending urgency of Sigur Rós‘s Jónsi.
Sigur Rós isn’t the only Icelandic royalty I’m hearing, either. “Snowblind” – his new track released on Friday (May 3), and the song that got my attention from first play – has a kind of Björk “Hyperballad” quality with those skittering synths as Saro, who is openly gay, dives into love without abandon.
“Taken by surprise with the sun in my eyes / I feel you inside, and I feel you inside and out…”
“There I was…thinking I was incapable of love when a swift gust pushed me from the ledge, and I began to fall. ‘Snowblind’ is about love grabbing you by the throat right after you deny its existence. To be ‘snowblind’ is to be temporarily robbed of sight by the reflection of sunlight on snow. The ‘ignorance is bliss’ feeling and inability to see the good from the bad is how love begins–however temporary the sensation may be,” he wrote of the song on his Instagram.
Amusingly, his only input on his Genius page a year ago is: “do not fall in love.” And now, here we are…in love. You know what that is? Growth.
Quality music from a fellow member of the queer community is always a thrill. Although we’re involved in nearly every aspect behind-the-scenes – from songwriting to styling to dominating Stan Twitter – it’s not like the market is exactly oversaturated with us on a mainstream level. Let’s keep working on championing our own, shall we?
“Snowblind” is a taste of what’s to come from Saro’s Die Alone EP, due out this summer.
And if you’re into it, he’s got plenty of recent releases to feel (inside and out), from the pulsating “Eyelids” to the mesmerizing “Nothing Remains” to his DVBBS club-ready collaboration, “Somebody Like You.”
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“Snowblind” was released on May 3. (iTunes)