When D.C. venues were ready to reopen after COVID-19, indie pop duo GLOSSER was ready to perform. The two, Riley Fanning and Corbin Sheehan, formed the band pre-COVID out of a shared aesthetic vision and passion for music storytelling.
Their first album DOWNER was released in January 2023, however they have decided to release a deluxe version exactly one year later containing four new tracks – two remixes, a reimagined song, and a cover – that they are hoping will give it a second life and allow them to continue performing around the area.
The band explains that they have spent many shows opening for touring bands that traveled through D.C. “We made music and then venues started to open again,” Sheehan says. Rather than having the “typical grungy” D.C. band experience, they uniquely went straight to club shows.
They make a great team, as they write each of their songs together. Fanning is the voice of GLOSSER, while Sheehan’s role falls more on the instrument production side (keys, guitar, drums, etc.). “Basically, I wanted to start a band,” Fanning says. “I had never done any type of music before, but I was just a huge music fan and had a secret dream that I wanted to sing … I interviewed a bunch of people and posted online about it, and basically Corbin found me because I was in this Facebook page for D.C. musicians, but at the time I was offering to do band posters and stuff.” After their first meeting, they immediately went back to Sheehan’s house and started writing that night. “Ever since then, we’ve been in a band.”
The two discussed what they wanted their music to sound like, and bonded over artists such as Beach House, Weyes Blood, and Mazzy Star. “We were huge Lana Del Rey fans and just huge regular pop music fans,” Sheehan says, “So then when we went to make a record, I guess we were listening to so much different stuff from pop Taylor Swift all the way down to the original Beach House and other indie pop bands like that.” He describes themselves as music fans first, and musicians second.
They decided they needed a name that would evoke imagery that matches their sound and style. Fanning’s original name for the band was Clover, but decided that would maybe get lost within the internet. “I really wanted it to be one word and I liked the idea of something like Clover’s vibe … One day I was just sitting there and was like, ‘Wait, what about GLOSSER?’”
Their first release as GLOSSER was their 2021 self-titled EP, led by the single “Lost in Your Life”. Fanning describes that project as “very classic dream pop.” They have now pivoted to calling themselves indie pop “because at least with this last record, we went more straightforward with pop-ness,” she says, mixing the world of those dream pop band with other influences like Taylor Swift, Lorde, MGMT, and one of their favorites right now, Phantogram. “We just kind of pull from everywhere.”
To describe the album DOWNER, Fanning says, “We’re sad, but we’re still partying.” DOWNER chronicles the mix of emotions that coincide with coming of age and young adulthood, which Fanning realized she wanted to highlight after writing a few songs. “Once I got a hold of that idea, I was able to write the rest of the songs and things were just coming to me.” That time during late high school and college when you are 18/19/20 years old is a rollercoaster; you are having fun with your friends, yet crying all the time and depressed by not necessarily knowing what the next step in life is, she explains, which their debut album tries to capture. “I don’t mess with the lyric side of it at all,” Sheehan says. “I think Riley’s a really good storyteller so I will let her do that. For me, I always latch on – We wanted the record to be dance-y/poppy, but still sad.”
GLOSSER’s songwriting process is always different, whether one of them finds an interesting chord progression or path they want to take and brings it to the other, or they figure everything out together. “Sometimes we sit together and just start playing on things and see if anything comes out. Sometimes we do things separately, and I’ll text it to him or he’ll send it to me,” Fanning says. “Usually an important thing for us is that we both really like the vocal hook.”
Sheehan adds, “We’ve built a lot of songs around not one lyric, but a phrase and progression, and that’s kind of what we’ve been doing recently in our new era.” This was often the case with DOWNER, which they fully wrote before recording in a Philadelphia warehouse studio with good friends Michael Cummings and Sophie Coran. This process took months, as they were living part-time in Baltimore and part-time in D.C. having to drive back and forth to Philly every couple of weeks.
“Sometimes different people would be there on days, like this drummer Arjun or this really great synth player Logan, and we would show them the songs,” Sheehan says. “Depending on who was there, sometimes we would just start working on something and then we’d come back a week later. It was a really weird way to make a record.” They look back on it as a fun experimental experience of trial and error.
GLOSSER is still based in D.C. and grateful for the lively music scene. “We love D.C.,”
Fanning says. “We’ve had a lot of great experiences, especially since the venues here are so supportive.” They first met at DC9, which eventually was where they also had their first performance as well as headlining show. “Honestly every venue we’ve played we always come across the kindest people … We’ve met a lot of great bands in the area; everyone seems to work together.”
As for the future, they are definitely planning to release more music this year, as they already are in the writing and recording processes. They hope you enjoy the reimaginings on DOWNER (Deluxe) that include the E.M. Hudson Remix of “Disco Girls”, the Twig Twig Remix of “Movies”, the track “Mystery”, and an alternate version of “The Artist” featuring Sophie Coran.
Make sure to keep an eye out for GLOSSER’s performances in the D.C. area, as well as upcoming new music. Find more about the band here.
Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.