Estrada’s Latest EP Public Secret Offers A Refreshing Blend Of Shoegaze & Synthpop
On his current release, the California-based artist takes listeners on a journey full of turbulent emotions and catchy melodies.
Earlier this year, the California-based shoegaze and indie artist Estrada released his single “Esta Noche Que Salí”, bringing together a mix of hooky beats and foggy walls of sound, influenced by early synthpop, new wave, and underground music. The single came from his newest EP Public Secret – a showcase of how shoegaze can evolve as one of the most understated yet nuanced and emotional genres in the current scene. Always relatively niche, it placed emphasis on raw emotion in a quieter way, gaining its name from artists’ habits of staring at their shoes. Yet embodying this kind of sensitivity and shyness was another part of the scene’s emotional appeal and it is this that Estrada does so well in the new EP. He’s a master at playing with different moods and sounds yet ultimately allowing the listener to sit back, relax, and take from it something new each time.
Public Secret kicks off with the heartfelt “iwantuall4me”, with a catchy melody interwoven with smooth walls of synths and guitar. It’s not easy making a shoegaze track catchy in the same way a pop track is – but what makes Estrada such an appealing artist to watch is the way he manages to combine the genre’s shyer side with synthpop sensibilities to make tracks that could easily hold their own on radio, not just on the internet.
Estrada’s knack for combining emotions is evident in “Floating”, which he described as a combination of ‘scared but hopeful’, using soft shoegaze guitars and surprisingly powerful drums to combine this turbulent mix of emotions. Getting listeners in touch with their inner feelings is just one part of the story. He also has a keen ear for which motifs and hooks repeatedly grab the listener’s attention, regardless of what mood the track is aiming to create.
Another highlight is the moody, slightly sorrowful “finally found you” where deep bass, pads, and a hypnotic yet slow and spaced-out drumbeat give the sense of an old soul in a young body when it comes to the California-based songwriter, with a smart approach to what music needs right now on top of it.
Certainly, Estrada seems to be leading the way when it comes to online fan interaction. Around the time of the release of his first single, Estrada already stood out with a wealth of TikTok followers and other online connections. In fact, in our previous coverage of the single, we looked at how he’s carved the kind of intimate space of local shoegaze scenes, but online. “Floating” gives a good indication of how he has done this – this is the sort of emotionally immersive music that makes you feel something different each time you listen to it. The track is, in fact, the perfect dreamy counterpart to other parts of the EP showing the subtle yet very full range of moods it takes you on.
“Esta Noche Que Sali” indicated an EP that could have either been more post-punk or even synthpop oriented – or, on the other hand, something more restrained, vulnerable, and emotional. On first listen, it’s interesting to see how Estrada has truly leaned into the more underground influences behind his work.
The titular track, “Public Secret” is smooth and pop-like, but still carries the underground edge that Estrada has managed to so carefully balance with more mainstream synthpop. Raw, honest vocals laced with just the right amount of fry lament that “if you said that you felt the same/this public secret won’t be so secret anymore” over hazy but booming drums and a summery, shimmering guitar riff that kicks in towards the end of the track.
“Alternative” is a big umbrella term, but if this new EP brings to mind any less obvious alternative subgenre compared with its surface sound, it’s pop-punk without the anger or rebellion. Yes, Estrada fits into shoegaze very well – and his ability to popularise it amongst a new generation of fans makes him a rare gem. Yet from his first single to the smart and memorable drumbeat at the start of “Floating”, there’s a reason his work is catching on – and it’s the raw energy and honest, unashamed, and outspoken emotions that make it close to rebellion even though its roots are in a more intimate place.
Ultimately, Estrada doesn’t need to do anything bold or push the boundaries of genre to be so good at combining his influences. The thing that ties his work together is the emotional balance and his ability to reach people. At the heart of it, it’s – just the right combination of personal and wider appeal, shyness, and relatability that proves how much Estrada has earned his fanbase – and why he’s such an exciting artist to watch in the future.
Featured Image by Bryan Acosta