Last week, Ryan DeRobertis, the pop-music-sampling whiz kid formerly known as Saint Pepsi, released his debut album as Skylar Spence — and for the first time, really stepped away from his laptop. “It’s the only record that I’ve put out that I’m singing on,” he tells Vulture. “The Saint Pepsi stuff was mostly about working with samples and doing weird things with them, with music that already existed. With Prom King, I wanted to move away from that. 95 percent of the instrumentals were recorded by me.”
Prom King is a tinseled, shamelessly effervescent album for anyone who feels remotely nostalgic about disco, new wave, and/or dance parties without chaperones. Adding to that is DeRobertis’s boyish pitch, which gives the album an endearing let’s make out under the bleachers during the homecoming game quality. Although this makes Prom King somewhat of a sonic departure for the 22-year-old, he says he still has an affinity for digging up preexisting material and putting it in a new context. This approach is on full display throughout the video for “Affairs,” premiering here on Vulture. DeRobertis reached out to found-footage aficionado David Dean Burkhart to create a VHS collage that incorporates clips from old commercials and foreign dramas at rapid speed until a surreal effect is achieved.
“I always thought that advertisements in the ‘80s and ‘90s had a sort of glamour that actually worked,” says DeRobertis. “We frown upon it now because it was a cheap way to sell things, but for me those artifacts stand alone as artistic achievements rather than something you’d use to sell a product, and when we re-contextualize them they look really cool. They tell a story rather than do what they were made to do.”