Origin stories reenact familiar myths; this one begins with a kid alone in a bedroom, trying to make something no one has heard before. Hailing from San Francisco, Filipino-American artist April Harper Grey started making music as underscores in middle school, when years of noodling around on GarageBand culminated in the realization that, if taken seriously enough, this whole “trying to be like Skrillex” thing might amount to something great.
For years, underscores released a steady stream of one-offs via SoundCloud, which endeared her to like minded artists and a burgeoning community of fans, but it wasn’t until 2017, with the release of EP skin purifying treatment, that the project stepped out of its solitary origins and began to capture the attention of a much larger audience. In 2021, Grey released the debut underscores album, fishmonger, which was written and recorded in that same childhood bedroom amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
That collection launched Grey from recording vocals in a car to opening for 100 Gecs on the U.S. leg of the 10,000 Gecs tour. Before hitting the road, underscores released yet another collection, boneyard aka fearmonger, a collection of seven tracks that manages to sound like both the climax of and the morning after the craziest night of your life. On the heels of 10,000 Gecs, the first underscores mini-tour sold out in NY, LA, Chicago, and Grey’s hometown of San Francisco. Since then, Grey has played Lollapalooza’s Main Stage, Electric Forest, FVDED in the Park, and Corona Capital CDMX.
Independent since the project’s inception, underscores signed to Mom+Pop last year. She also debuted “Count of three (You can eat $#@!)” – co-written with Dylan Brady (of 100 Gecs), Cashmere Cat, Benny Blanco – on 100 Gecs’ Dog Show Records. Since dropping boneyard aka fearmonger, she’s produced music for Alice Longyu Gao, glaive, Whethan, and renforshort. The world eagerly awaits the next underscores knowing it will jolt us out of reverie. That is, after all, Grey’s ethos: “When people listen to underscores, I want their initial reaction to be, ‘This is ridiculous.’ But the more they listen to it, they should hear the nuance in it, the heaviness in it, and I hope they connect with it on some kind of emotional level. The ultimate goal is to turn people off, then win them back.”
Purgatory at The Masquerade