Is Tom Krell fucking with me?

“I’m like, breathlessly bowled over by emotion right now, but I’m keeping it together so I can do this interview,” he says. Folding his lanky, six-foot-plus body into a booth at Silver Lake’s El Siete Mares, he leans over a plate of fish tacos. “I’m a little bit of a live wire,” he assures me, looking anything but. “I’m also good at masking.” He stares off into the parking lot and smiles, serene, lost—possibly in potential thoughts to tweet.

Prior to meeting the 32-year-old artist, who records as How to Dress Well, I half-expected him to have heart-eyes. His Twitter personality (display name: “literally your boy”) is twee, his updates liberally spangled with emojis and the word “cute.” Sample post: “Yesterday was his bday and today I'm working in the room Mike did thriller in wtf how did my life get this cute.”

Krell first arrived in 2009 in a then-fashionable cloak of mystery to woo the underground with foggy, R&B-adjacent bedroom recordings. Seven years later, he’s evolved, like the internet, to embrace things that are bright and earnest. His latest album, Care, has moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney movie (one of the cool ones, like The Lion King), big name collaborators (like Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers), and a near-off-putting level of naked emotion (with lyrics like “And when you walked in, oh/I felt my heart go right into you,” from single “Can’t You Tell”). It’s accompanied by a Twitter-approved persona. Krell rejects gendered sexual attraction, and calls his most recent single “consent pop.” He embraces Top 40 hits in a way that, 10 years ago, would’ve been dismissed as corny. He’s fluent in emoji. Long gone is the lo-fi cloudiness that made his lyrics unintelligible. He wants to be your wokest bae.

But in person, on this stifling August afternoon, Krell is Buddha-calm, articulate, and even a little smug as he discusses his work as a doctoral candidate in philosophy (“There is no God. That’s just the basic fact of the matter.”). He just moved to L.A. from Chicago at the start of the year, but already looks at home in the gentrified neighborhoods east of Hollywood: record label T-shirt, cropped trousers, grape-colored sneakers, phone addiction.