Alt Bloom is the newest project by the LA-based singer songwriter Ethan Thompson. He is one of the newest artists that I have discovered during this time at home. The music is upbeat and really sounds like summer. The catchy tunes have been a very fun addition to my playlist.
He calls his music nature-pop and he did acoustic versions of his latest songs in a series of videos, called the “California Sessions” shot in beautiful, remote places all over the Golden State. I wanted to speak to Ethan because his “California Sessions” actually had me planning my next trip to places I haven’t visited across the Pacific Coast Highway. Two of the session videos have been released for. “West Coast” and “Damn Baby.”
Alt Bloom dropped his latest single today called “Get Back” and he will release the acoustic “California Sessions” video of the song on Earth Day next week, highlighting another breathtaking site in California.
Check out his music and read our chat below where we discuss amazing outdoor travel destinations, new music and his quarantine playlist.
I saw on your Instagram you are currently staying at home in Montana.
I am. I am currently pacing my childhood room.
Montana is a not a bad place to be. It is one of the most beautiful states.
Yeah, I am very lucky. I called my parents all the time growing up saying thank you for raising me out here.
What have you been doing to stay busy?
I have been doing anything we can. First thing I did was buy a Wurlitzer from an old studio I used to work at that was selling it. I have been playing around on that a lot. I have been getting outside with my family as well. We have been doing some hiking. Me and my Dad, since the mountain is closed, it is still legal to skin up since it is national property. We have been skinning up the mountain and skiing down. We got some lovely snow days for an April in Montana. It was pretty crazy how nice the snow is. Last night we hiked up in a full moon which I had never done before and it was absolutely beautiful because the moon lights up the whole mountain because it is all white snow. We hiked up there last night and skied down.
I have also been working on cover songs, doing covers for people who request it, if I think it’s interesting, I’ll learn it and sing it for them.
Where did your name come from, Alt Bloom?
It came from the duress of three days locking myself in my house making myself come up with a name for the project. My whole thing is I come from Montana, where I was born and raised, and I have been living in cities like Boston and LA the last nine years now and the music I have been exposed to since coming to the city has really impacted me. My whole thing is blending the kid I that was raised in the woods with this city kid I have been the last nine years. It was trying to find something that matched those together and was a new path for me. Alt Bloom came together because I was slamming words together that I liked over the course of three days and finally that mixture of words came together. Within 30 minutes I called my label and said this is what I was going to call it and everyone seemed to click on it so that’s how it came to be.
I was able to listen to the new EP this week (Available in June). My favorite track was “Our Love”. Is there a story behind that song?
The basis of the song was seeing someone you have been with from afar on social media and really be like whatever they are experiencing now is what we experienced together. It started over a fun hip-hop track and then I took it home and sat with the chorus and I thought it was more emotional than we were making it, so over the course of two days we re-produced it with the acoustic hip hop feel it has now and changed some of the lyrics to match the story the chorus was leaning towards. It was written with August Rigo he is an amazing writer, amazing dude, who is from Toronto and lives in LA. It ended as it was, a story of watching someone from far away having the same experiences with someone else.
You are a songwriter, you write a lot with partnerships. What is your writing process like?
It is different for every song. Sometimes we go to places like Coachella and get inspired. There have literally been times at shows and someone has been playing a certain thing or a certain intro and I take my phone out and record and hum a melody over it because I find that particular moment inspiring. Lots of times while doing things outdoors, I’ll have melodies come into my head and lyric ideas. Once you get into the studio, it is just riding the wave. I go in and whatever producer I am working with I see what energy they are bringing in, what type of music they feel like working on, what music I feel like working on and just ride the wave. It is like yoga and meditation where you find this Zen spot you give respect to and hone in more and more each time you get into it. I try to power write out a song and spend the next hour editing until it’s done or the next six months until it’s done. It is really that special moment for me, that first hour when you are in that Zen state. The other moment is cool when it clicks for everyone in the room and creates that high we are always chasing and why we continue to do what we do and strive to get back to that high every day.
I enjoyed watching your IGTV “California Sessions” videos for this new EP that you filmed in some of the most magnificent places in California, all the way up the coast from Big Sur to Death Valley. Why did you choose these locations?
The reason I picked the locations is because I have always wanted to have my music embedded in nature. I try to have projects out in the woods as much as possible because it is my passion, my family, music, and nature. My buddy who is from Bishop, California Alex Pollini shot the whole thing. Alex He is an amazing cinematographer; he found all those locations. I hit him up immediately when my product manager came up with the idea for the trip and asked if he had any locations. He sent me a list of 50 locations across California. The selections got us from LA up to the top of California and found places that looked different at each stop. In the end we ended up with Death Valley, Red Rocks, The Redwoods, Bishop, California, and Big Sur. We did this big loop from LA to the Red Rocks to the Redwoods then back down the West coast of California driving the California HWY 1 down. I was just looking for the most beautiful locations we could see together.
Do you have any other must visit places in California for people?
I would definitely check out the places in the video series. The Sierras, if you haven’t had a chance to explore them, like King’s Canyon or even the PCP Trail, if you are interested in getting out, the amazing thing about being in Los Angeles is that you are four hours away from some of the most epic things you could ever see and just six hours from Yosemite. In the state, definitely getting out to The Sierras near Bishop, California. It is some of the most breathtaking views I have seen. It is really fun because once you get out into it you are at like 10,000 to 11,000 feet the whole hike, at night especially you see these beautiful stars because you are high up and away from the city. It is a really beautiful to escape.
I believe that once this ”stay at home” situation is over, one of the first things people will want to do is see music.
Absolutely, the most positive outing you can find. I am curious what it is going to be like at concerts with crowds coming up in the future, if having our own little masks is going to be part of, I was joking with someone it is going to be wallet, keys, cell phone, mask.
You are going to release your next single “Get Back” April 17 close to Earth Day. Is there any significance putting it out around Earth Day?
I think I would have put it out regardless but of course Earth Day is a good day to celebrate. I think once my team saw how these videos turned out, they thought it would be important to put music out around that day of celebration. We decided that the live acoustic video of “Get Back” is coming out that day. It is kind of like when people talk about Valentine’s Day. I don’t understand Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t you show the ones you love all the time. Same with Earth Day. People should Earth Day all the time.
I did take a look at some of your cover songs that you are doing on Instagram. I saw you did a Mac Miller cover that he performed, “Billy Preston.” I loved Mac. Why did you pick that song?
Mac Miller has been a huge influence on my music in the last two years. I really dove into Divine Feminine and “Swimming” and into Circles as well. I just think the way that he and artists like Tom Petty, who is another one of my favorite artists, went about lyrics was very similar where they share stories from their lives and the chorus repeats a reflection of what that is and what is going on. I have always loved that art in lyrics and that type of storytelling in lyrics and Mac Miller is someone who did that really well.
I think he was a really great guy. I covered his memorial on the night of his show he was supposed to play at The Hollywood Bowl. Most of the artists who came out and participated in that had a story in how he had helped them in some way. Some had surpassed him in popularity but they all had a story about how he had helped them in the beginning.
I will say through his lyrics and things he has written, he has helped me but I never had the chance to have a conversation with him. Especially those last two albums, how he reflects on his work and his life and his demons has always been inspiring to me. When people ask who my biggest Hip-Hop influence is I would say Mac Miller. I loved how he crafts things and shared his story with other people. It makes sense that he helped people on the other side of it in real life. That’s awesome.
You asked on your Instagram one day if you could go anywhere right now, where would you go? Where would you go?
Honestly, I am right where I want to be. Throughout my life music has brought me to so many places which has been amazing. I feel like in my spare time I love being in the mountains. It is my favorite place to be. Right now, to be home with my parents, if I was in LA, the first thing I would say if someone asked where I wanted to be, I would say locked up in Montana with my folks. I am definitely right where I want to be.
One place I want to check out is Yosemite National Park, surprisingly I have never been to Yosemite. My friends and I have been plotting our attack there for quite some time. We are trying to figure out a time we can all go for about a week and just soak up all that is Yosemite between the Rock Walls, the Half Dome and all the places that are unexplored. Every National Park has the 5-10 trails everyone does and then there are 100 trails no one goes on. I want to go to Yosemite and try to find those trails people aren’t on. If it was a little later in the year, I’d be deep into Glacier Park, but they are closed right now because of snow and Corona.
That Road to the Sun must still be frozen.
You have been?
Yes, I visited for a workshop. The Road to the Sun is a special place.
Every 4th of July I come home for two weeks and invite anyone and everyone who wants to come, especially those who haven’t been because I want them to experience it. I get about four or five people every year and I tell them to prepare themselves for one of the most beautiful drives you’ll ever be on if it is their first time. It’s just a gorgeous drive and they maintain those roads so well. It’s so scary there is a 2,000 foot drop to your right and yet they maintain it all year long.
The other place I tell people to go visit is up to Banff in the Canadian Rockies as well.
Absolutely, the glaciers up on the other side of the border in Banff are amazing. All mountains are gorgeous. There are spots in Switzerland I really want to see. Switzerland and South America are the places I want to check out. See the Mayan Ruins. In Switzerland there are these tiny mountain towns that are in these gorgeous cliff areas. You are absolutely right, the northern glaciers, northern Rockies up in Canada are stunning.
What is your quarantine playlist?
Let me see. I made one. I know that Benee is on it. If you love Mac Miller, you will love her beats. It is very similar. She is a younger artist from New Zealand. I have been listening to Baby J, Marcus G, Adam Melchor if you are into more Folk music is amazing. Benee is amazing. Steve Miller is classic. Mac Miller is on there and listening to some throwback Third Eye Blind. There you go. That’s my list.
How are you choosing your covers for Instagram?
It happens when someone suggests a song from an artist I like that I haven’t heard or was too familiar with. The Mac Miller cover was one I did because I love that song, I love that cover he did. I had been listening to it over and over again on Spotify. I have picked some from artists that I love, for instance there was a Childish Gambino song, “Sober” which I really liked but had never like really dove into the chords or lyrics. “Focus” by HER, I am a massive fan of hers. It is just things I find interesting. It is cool because the people who follow my stuff definitely like the same kind of music I listen to. It is fun taking their recommendations.
Photo By Ariana Dixon- provided by the artist