With the release of her new single “nite swim,” the California based up-and-comer attempts to assert herself as an artist concerned with dissecting the intersection between private and public.
Shadows’ lead single for her new upcoming record “Digital Pacific” beautifully pairs her introspective lyrics and pop prowess into one thematically dense track. Fascinated by the impacts of a digital world, Shadows’ draws on literary references to paint a picture of relationships gone by. The track is backed by a flurry of shimmery synths and driving percussion that provide a proper stage for Shadows to thrive, both sonically and lyrically.
Shadows spoke to COLLiDE about her process, influences, and environment.
“Digital Pacific” will be your debut LP. Tell us a little about the process of making it and how did that experience differ from making shorter EP’s or singles like you’ve done in the past?
I created this album with a concept in mind, so every song and visual had to have at least one (if not multiple) links to the concept. The concept is abstractly autobiographical: my life online (“Digital”) and my life in California (“Pacific”). For the longest time, I felt like there were no artists creating serious works about how our lives online bleed into our analog lives. So I wanted to create a body of work that illustrated this overflow. In terms of creating, my process was basically the same except I always had the themes/concept running in the back of my mind and I put a great deal of effort into creating sonic & visual links. It was the same process, but a larger scale, which meant more attention to detail!
I imagine putting out your debut LP comes along with some nerves. What’s one thing you’re hoping listeners will take away from this record?
You’re totally right – it is definitely nerve wracking!
From an artistic perspective, I am hoping listeners will hear and see the amount of detail in each and every song & visual. I left no stone unturned when it came to being cohesive, thoughtful, and diligent. That being said, there is no “main message” but rather a lot of questions that I hope the LP inspires. I hope it inspires reflections on how life online impacts our day to day lives.
A question I think of often: is the internet a portal or a mirror? Does it give us the ability to go into an alternate world and be someone other than who we are, or does it act more like a mirror in the end, telling us a lot about ourselves? What do our online behaviors tell us about ourselves and others? How does it affect our lives in our own worlds? Can we really go unaffected by mean comments and public likes/dislikes and unfollows and unfriendings, by simply hiding behind an avatar? And so forth. Everyone is different – but in my case, I’ve found that my life online has a huge impact on my mood and my ability to exist IRL.
You’ve laid out “Digital Pacific” to follow the path of a California road trip. Looking back on it, how do you think where you live and your environment has impacted the things you’ve made or the way you’ve made them?
Absolutely. I moved to California in 2008, and it’s basically been like another character in my story. Living here has completely shaped my life, my music, and my relationships. I mean this in a literal sense as well as a figurative way. For example, if I had not lived here, I doubt I would’ve met my collaborators who helped shape this project. Additionally, I struggle with seasonal depression, so I’m not sure I would’ve even had the energy to pursue this career or maintain this resilience had I stayed living in New York City where I really suffered for 8 months of the year. In a more metaphorical way, everyday that I wake up and feel the sun on my face, I feel like I have a friend, a hope, and a reason to keep going. I am eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to live in Los Angeles. It would’ve been difficult for me to neglect the importance of my environment in this establishing piece.
“Digital Pacific” has a real focus on growing up and existing in a digital age and its adverse effects. I think an interesting way this has manifested amongst artists like yourself is having such immediate access to decades worth of endlessly diverse music via streaming services. What/Who has been an influence of yours that people may be surprised to learn about?
I think most people probably don’t know that I am a classically trained pianist, and I definitely consider classical music to be a big influence to me! My favorite composers are Chopin, Debussy, and Ravel. Also love Bach but for different reasons. I think if you listen to my music with this in mind, you might hear things like arpeggios (like in the verses of “Hallelujah California”) and flourishes that are inspired by classical playing.
Other than that, I’d say the singer/songwriter canon is a huge influence – so like Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Vashti Bunyan (underrated legend), Fiona Apple, Elliot Smith, Paul Simon, Damien Rice, etc. Perhaps this is most evident in songs like “battery life.”
Also vocal jazz – like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I think they’ve had an influence on my vocal stylings – “Hallelujah California” again is a good example of this. I think it would be fun for people to listen back to that song in particular like an influence scavenger hunt with Chopin, Joni Mitchell, and Billie Holiday in mind.
Why “nite swim” for the premiere single?
“nite swim” was one of the first songs I wrote for “Digital Pacific” in 2016 — it was highlighted early on as a fan favorite, and for that reason, it was always supposed to be a leading single. At this point, with so many delays due to COVID, it’s a very old song to me! But I think it sets the scene and reminds me of the first time I visited here: wide-eyed intro to LA, big rolling hills and houses, palm trees and blue skies and mansion parties. It’s meant to be like a Sofia Coppola film – really graphic, symmetrical, and syrupy sweet. It’s actually a very sarcastic song, though I’m not sure everyone will get that upon first listen. As I was creating my album, it took a much darker turn – so while this song feels a little like looking through a time capsule to me, I think it’s effective in taking everyone on this journey from more upbeat (with “nite swim” at track 2) to more defeat by track 18.
Before you go, who is one California artist you’d like to recommend to our readers?
Can’t just pick one, have got to list a bunch of amazing artists who happen to be friends, based in LA: Total Brutal, Ella Vos, TRACE, KITTEN, Kaela, Jxst J, In.Drip., So Below, and Chelsea Jade.
You can listen to “nite swim” here in preparation for “Digital Pacific” which is out February 12th.