Review: SMALLTALK "Grand Prismatic" Single
Written by Melissa Zhuang
Jakub Vanyo is man of many names and many talents. He goes by VANYO, Nonaphoenix or most recently: SMALLTALK. “Grand Prismatic” is SMALLTALK’s newest single of the new year and was released on Jan 30, 2020. A Great Lakes native who currently resides in Nashville, Jakub dived into the music world at age 16 with his band of friends titled: Heyhihello. Together Heyhihello recorded acoustic covers with Poppy (before she was THE Poppy), made weekly vlogs titled Monday Minute to talk about band/life stuff, and created original song content. From there, he found himself pursing music production and song-writing, and in 2017 signed with Purplebeat under the name of SMALLTALK. Under the name of VANYO, he produces, writes, co-writes, and crosses over to the world of film/tv by creating musical content for shows and films. Examples include: FOX, CBS, NBC, Grey’s Anatomy, CMT’s Music City, Under Armour, Siesta Key, Ball in the Family, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, Selling Sunset, AFTER (2019 Film).
This year, through detailed Facebook posts and a beautifully edited video featuring a narrated montage of forrest landscapes, Jakub has been on an on-going journey of opening up about his debates with death, ideas of suicide, loss of faith, and drinking struggles. Jakub writes:
“I’ve been releasing music now for almost 15 years, and I’m just now writing and releasing songs that are actually from within myself. I had a lot more success with the other songs- and I’m proud of them, don’t get me wrong- but I was always afraid to write about what was going on inside my head.”
Now, here’s the twist: if you turned on the radio and listened to “Grand Prismatic” on a sunny day, you wouldn’t be thinking about “making misery my best friend.” I found myself boppin’ to the bubbly beat of SMALLTALK’s songs and I had to scroll back through the lyrics to realize these songs were deeply personal songs about self-exploration and pain. This pop beat paired with an electro voice walks into a catchy chorus that’s hard not to hum along to. SMALLTALK himself perfectly sums up this song as “another happy sad song,” because it’s got a snappy beat with synthesized high-hats, expertly mixed bass and auto-tuned harmonies.
Jakub typed out the back-story to “Grand Prismatic” in a Facebook post and quoted Grand Prismatic Spring from Yosemite as an inspiration to the song.
“It’s scalding hot, filled with bacteria, and breathtakingly beautiful. I found myself drawing parallels between the spring and the process of grieving. It’s natural to resist the pain of grief- any sort of existential pain is difficult to process- but when we fully embrace suffering, we begin to work through it. We can recognize our attachments and begin to let go. It’s painful, but it’s beautiful. Jump on in. — (Don’t jump on in, the National Park Service will be mad).”
I went ahead and looked up the spring and it’s known as the United State’s largest spring. It’s the famous one that’s pictured on all the Yellowstone borchures and sourvenir magents and I gotta say it’s really quite beautiful. I can see where the inspiration comes from: it’s got these layers of vibrant greens, blues, and oranges and it’s the perfect visualization of “Grand Prismatic.” If it wasn’t boiling at 160 °F I could see how fun it would be to jump into those waters.
This is one of those rare songs that you could listen to at a friend’s picnic or turn it around and blast in through your car speakers with mascara streams running down your face at night. You can decide how you wanna do it.
“Gotta get it outta my system
So i can be somebody
Don’t give a damn about an outcome
If I could be so lucky
Go ahead and put one foot in front of the other
Keep my hands at arm’s length in case i go under “
Follow SMALLTALK at his socials:
Instagram: @ jakubvanyo