Phosphorescent, singer/songwriter Mathew Houck embarked on a slow-burning journey that saw his music rise from dusty homespun albums to critically lauded and internationally recognized songs as he pushed on through the years. Houck wrote songs and toured solo while in his early twenties, taking on the Phosphorescent moniker in 2001 and releasing several albums before signing to heavyweight indie label Dead Oceans with the release of 2007's Pride. Relocating from Athens, Georgia to Brooklyn, Houck assembled a cast of various bandmates, touring relentlessly through the 2000's and finding more success with each new album. 2013's career highlight Muchacho would be Phosphorescent's best-received work to date. The album sold better than anything that came before it in Houck's catalog and included standout cut "Song for Zula," which was used in multiple films and television shows across the globe. After starting a family and moving back to Nashville, Houck took several years off before re-emerging with 2018's C'est La Vie.
Mathew Houck was born in 1980 and grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. He moved to Athens, Georgia around the turn of the century and began making music solo under the name Fillup Shack. 2000's self-released Hipolit and a tour of Spain and England would be the only activity as Fillup Shack before Houck took on the Phosphorescent moniker. Early output from the project was at times more drifting and experimental, filtering Houck's plaintive folk and country songwriting through layers of fuzzy production. This style informed 2003 debut album A Hundred Times or More and its 2005 follow-up Aw Come Aw Wry. By this time Houck had left Georgia for Brooklyn, New York. The project reached the next level when Houck signed to Secretly Canadian subsidiary label Dead Oceans. The label started Phosphorescent's run with the release of third album Pride in the fall of 2007. While still touched by the woozy, ungrounded approach of the earlier albums, the songwriting was hookier and more focused, beginning a move away from experimental urges and into more polished material that would continue with subsequent albums. More straightforward indeed, the next offering from Phosphorescent was 2009's To Willie, a collection of sincerely delivered Willie Nelson covers with Houck's wavering voice high and clear in the mix. Fourth album Here's to Taking It Easy arrived the next year and was followed by extensive international touring. In 2013, fifth album Muchacho was released, a hybrid of traditional country influences and a more electronic-leaning take on the experimental textures that defined earlier albums. The album was Phosphorescent's best-received work to date, gaining critical praise across the board, as well as enthusiastic responses from growing numbers of fans. More touring ensued and enough new interest in the group resulted in 2015's expansive live album Live at the Music Hall. Over a decade of touring and nonstop music making saw Houck slowing down significantly as major life events unfolded over the next few years. He began a relationship with bandmate Jo Schornikow, who had worked with him during the making of Muchacho, and the two moved to Nashville and started a family, having two children in quick succession. During this downtime, Houck wired up his new Nashville dwelling with a recording studio and began a drawn-out writing process for what would become Phosphorescent's sixth album, 2018's C'est La Vie.