At first, the only sound is a dull ring in your ears. It persists, even as the rest of the information makes its way into your fuzzy brain. You struggle to process what you just heard, what you saw, what you can't deny is true, for it is only through and after this uncomfortable process that the beat can take over, that you come back to life.
That's what "Froggie" captures, the first track from Will Eastman's latest LP Hilo, an album written in direct response to the self-shattering and life-changing news that the Washington DC producer, DJ, and U Street Music Hall owner was adopted.
"In an instant, nothing seemed real," Eastman says. "What I knew about my background was based on a fabrication. In a way, my life had been an illusion. I began to distrust reality itself, at the very time I would be forced to recreate an identity. I needed to throw away everything I thought I knew and start over. It was necessary to forge a new identity, but also to survive psychologically."
"Froggie" is the stark realization, the slow creep of denial, and the strange alienation of acceptance. It's also the driving beat of momentum and the victorious melody of a new man.
"'Froggie' is named for the raining frogs in the book of Exodus, one of the plagues visited upon Egypt by God to compel Pharaoh to release the Israelites from enslavement," Eastman says. "The Hilo story begins with me learning the truth - my truth - a truth so strange and unexpected it was like frogs raining from the sky. Afterward, nothing would be the same."
Hilo is, in full, the product of Eastman's lugubrious reinvention, but it's triumphant, just as Eastman is the better for having faced and shaped his reality rather than let his reality shape him. It plays more like an outward celebration than inward reflection, although all its disco and house inspired joviality hangs like dressing over a window of insecurity.
"Hilo is a dialogue of dichotomies: anxiety and adventure, ecstasy and terror, free fall and uplift. Each low answered by a high," he says. "(It's) Music about birth and destruction, and the ways we hurt ourselves and others. Songs about yearning and satiation, loss and wealth of spirit. About loving someone more than oneself. The graceful way a simple gesture can save someone's life. The ways we can burn every ounce of energy we have yet keep going. Forever."
Hilo's release date is TBD, but you can hear "Froggie" below exclusively on Billboard Dance.