By Chelsea Booth
All Photos By Anthony Sokolov
It’s a crisp October evening. Evan Gordon of Trafton, sits across from me in his modest Lower East Side apartment, and raises a shallow wine goblet to his lips, taking small sips of the water he poured for himself. Evan’s legs are comfortably crossed. His golden locks, still dripping wet from the shower, are deflated and hang just below his shoulders. His Bradley Cooper blue eyes twinkle as he tries to hide his excitement through a nervous smile.
“I’m not afraid of pop music,” he proclaims.
It’s true, he’s not afraid of pop music; he embraces it. In fact, if Justin Bieber circa 2015 and Lorde had a musical child, the product would be Trafton. His lyrics are smart and introspective, his production is crisp, and his vocals are effortlessly smooth. But it’s his apt for songwriting, which really makes him stand out. It’s obvious he’s spent years on his craft. And the results are songs like his newest single “Hyperreal,” that once you hear, you physically cannot get it out of your head.
Co-written and produced by his friend Luke Davis, “Hyperreal” is mysterious, inviting and intimate. It is a double edged sword kind of a song, which captures the universal experience of meeting that amazing person, only to fall into the inescapable realization that the real person will never be able to live up to the person you’ve built them up to be in your head. “It’s definitely a dark thing. It’s like, ‘Fuck, I’m really in deep here and you’re not. This isn’t what I needed it to be.’ You know?”
Trafton’s Facebook page has a grainy video of him doing a mesmerizing cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” In the video, his hair is up in a fluffy top knot type contraption and he’s shirtless, which feels less like a strategic choice, and more like a coincidence; perhaps it was laundry day. In his flowery falsetto, Trafton sings at a volume just above a whisper and as we watch, we don’t digest him as a sexual object (which is not to diminish his attractiveness), but instead, we see him as a real person. Trafton is a person who we’d feel comfortable striking up a conversation with in the elevator. And that’s exactly what makes Trafton so great. Unlike most pop music, he’s not trying to sell you anything. He doesn’t need any ostentatious fluff. Trafton is simply his authentic self, making music as honestly as he can. And it’s really fucking good.
As an independent artist, with only a handful of songs, Trafton has an impressive following of roughly 48,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, which is only growing. However, what’s more impressive is that he does it almost all himself.
The New Hampshire born and raised musician has always gravitated towards pop music. At the age of three, Evan started dabbling with music when his dad brought home his great grandmother’s grand piano and he wrote his first full-fledged song entitled “Fear of Life” when he was just nine years old. When I joke about how melodramatic and funny it’s for a nine year old to write a song called “Fear of Life,” Evan takes a more serious tone. “I mean that’s how I was—like super introspective, usually on the sadder end of the spectrum. That’s the kind of music I’ve always written.”
It’s that type of authenticity and passion (often a rare feature coming from someone who proudly makes pop music) that makes Trafton’s music stand out from the rest. He cares about songwriting, lyricism, and imagery, and genuinely wants to make pop music with musical and personal integrity.
“Pop music is for the masses. The point of pop music has always been to get in touch with the public– the sentiments and emotions and experiences that everybody can– or a lot of people can– relate to,” Evan explains, brimming with enthusiasm. “There’s so much within pop music. It’s not just one thing, but I’m not into all pop music,” he admits. “I think that there’s right now like this wave of really incredible, honest like totally innovative pop music. That’s the pop music that I want to be a part of. I’m not tryin’ to just write radio hits– at all.”
Leaning towards the future, Trafton has a lot to look forward to: an expanding fan base, an upcoming EP and eventually live performance. “I’ve literally been writing the album since I was 16. It’s a huge part of my life. It has to be everything that I need it to be,” he says. But when I ask Trafton what would need to happen for him to feel like he’s really made it, his eyes glaze over with wonder and curiosity.“What will make me feel like I’ve made it? I don’t know. I’ll probably never be a 100% satisfied. I feel like I’ve never been satisfied. So then that leads me to thinking about what my biggest dreams are. I guess if I could share my music and share my artistry and be a unique figure for a lot of people, then I think I would feel like I did it. I don’t want to be like be super famous because that’s not the goal, but I feel like I want to spread my music to the point where that would be what would happen. I don’t know. Ask me in like a while.”
Listen to Trafton’s newest single “Hyperreal” here.