Digging through old photos last year, Pat Grossi found a faded snapshot of himself as a kid on Halloween with his two brothers, their arms flung around each other. They’re standing in front of the family house on Curtis Lane, the street in Moorestown, New Jersey, where they spent their salad days. Grossi felt so fondly about that time—and the sense of comfort that accompanied it—that he memorialized the photo on the cover of Curtis Lane, his first full-length album under the name Active Child. That Grossi resurrected the past speaks to the gauzy electronic music he makes: dipped in nostalgia and longing, with reverb as a constant echo underneath the angelic falsetto he developed while singing in the Philadelphia Boy’s Choir. Homesickness is the underlying theme in Active Child’s music, and the overarching one in Grossi’s life.
Last August, he decided to move back in with his parents in Los Angeles after working “bullshit jobs” in Denver for seven years. “My family is out here, my brothers are all out here, so the move back was a long time coming,” Grossi says. “In Denver, I just wasn’t really doing a whole lot. I needed a change inside.” He found relief in Sun Rooms, a cassette-only release with synthetic flourishes pinned to a fluttering harp picked up while accompanying a friend to a rental warehouse. The sound of Grossi’s delicate voice over the instrument elevates Sun Rooms to something sacred—though his keening may sometimes sound glacial or depressed, the music in fact becomes a testimony to the value of lifelong companionship. With the “Weight of the World,” Grossi proclaims his displacement best: So you reach and you clutch to the things you can remember/ For the scent or the touch, or the one you miss so much. “[It’s] a pretty straightforward metaphor for wanting to go somewhere where you’re just completely vulnerable to your surroundings,” Grossi says. “You feel awkward and feel like a stranger.”
Isolation comes with exploring new territories. In the past, Grossi let feelings of dislocation bury him, but now that he’s back where he belongs, his outlook has shifted. Upon returning to LA from Denver, he began recasting himself as a real musician, selling out enough copies of Sun Rooms that European label Merok picked it up for repackaging into Curtis Lane. “Before, no one really knew me as this guy who did music,” he says, “or thought of me as musical at all.” Grossi has savored the journey, but it wouldn’t be complete if he didn’t open the door in front of him. “I’ve been writing about my family, my relationships with my brothers and the excitement of being around people again. All of it has just been a really great experience to get home.” Memory lane is a specific place for Active Child, it’s just that now it has a more familiar locale.
Stream: Active Child, Curtis Lane