TO NO COMPARISON: PORTLAND’S SHY GIRLS TALKS MOONLIGHTING FOR HIS MUSIC

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Portland’s Dan Vidmar, otherwise known as Shy Girls, is an up-and-coming vocalist-slash-producer-slash-artist that has been slated to aid in the City of Roses’s R&B resurgence, but he’d be the last person to tell you that. Similar to a majority of this music generation’s  genre-transcending artists, Shy Girls hates labels and hates to be compared, especially when it involves the words, “sexy,” “baby-making,” or “The Weeknd.” But in what other ways could you describe vocals that are airy in tone yet sultry and emotional in delivery? How else are you to supposed to treat clear production, with melodies that are minimalist and captivating at the same time? What else can be said for songwriting so delicate and empathetically-driven? As far as Shy Girls is concerned, he says to let the music speak for itself. Check out the interview below to see what he has to say for himself.

LAC: How’s life? You’re on tour right now and released the Timeshare EP a few months ago, what’s life been like since?

SH: It’s been good. Tour’s been like a bunch of highs and a bunch of lows, but overall it’s been great. We’re having a good time going through it and the EP has been doing really well, we’re pretty satisfied with the reception.

LAC: It’s not your first project though, right?

SH: It’s my first release technically because Sex in the City was kind of a collection of demos that sort of became “released.” Its really just something I sort of started sharing around with friends on SoundCloud and I packaged it up and released it on Bandcamp, Timeshare is the first actual release.

LAC: How did you get in touch with Cyril Hahn to make “Perfect Form”?

SH: Cyril got in touch with me after he heard “Under Attack,” and basically said that he was looking for a vocalist and releasing the track on PMR [Records]. I was super stoked because I loved his remixes and I was a big fan, so I was all for it. We approached it where I gave him an a cappella because I knew he was used to remixing vocal stems, so I gave him just that. I recorded the song in the studio as I pictured it in my head, sent it to him and let him do all the production.

LAC: That’s not really a normal way to make track though is it?

SH: Yeah, it isn’t. But we sort of strategically did it that way because I felt that’s how I work best. If I’m sent a track and it’s really busy or there’s a lot going on, that sort of gets in my head and I can’t really sing or create the melodies I would otherwise. And he also works that way where he starts with an a cappella – like the Destiny’s Child remix – where he took the vocals of the track and built around that. We just kind of figured out over a couple emails that that was the best way to approach it.

LAC: So I understand that you work in a hospital emergency room. Did that impact the writing process of your music in any way?

SH: People ask me that a lot and I don’t know if I can say that it impacted me directly. I think that maybe down the road I can look back and say something like, ‘Oh, that time in my life was totally sculpted by the things I saw at work,’ but I think it’s really too immediate right now to say that. I can’t quite connect the dots yet. I mean, I do see a lot of people at work – a variety of personalities and experiences in general. Most people go through their day seeing a certain spectrum of behavior and I feel like I see a much larger spectrum of behavior so that probably in some way effects how I approach the personalities I saw.

LAC: I think the idea is that working in a hospital, you see people on the edge of their emotions, and in turn, whether by coincidence or not, translated into Timeshare, which is noted for its high-emotion.

SH: Well yeah, the idea makes sense because working in the hospital you see people that are feeling intense emotion, much more than you or I. It’s still hard [to make the connection] though, because when I come home from work, I tend to shut that part of my life off because I have to. It’s the only way to do that kind of work, is to leave it at work. It’s hard for me to think that ‘Oh, work is affecting me,’ in an immediate sense, because it isn’t really.

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LAC: Given that, what did influence the EP?

SH: I guess it was just a lot of social experiences. In the last two years, there have been new friendships made, changes in relationships, transitioning from this point where I was sort of working all the time and spending time alone into this world where I have a lot intense relationships with people and being able to navigate that world. I guess that was that.

LAC: So where did the name come from?

SH: There really isn’t a good story, to be honest. It’s kind of a random thing, but it does kind of make sense with the music, to me at least – there’s kind of a feminine side to it, an intimate sense about it. I think also when I first started doing it, I had to come up with it at some point and I needed a name to put onto this body of work I created to send to my friends.

LAC: Why don’t you like the term “baby-making music”?

SH: I think people hear the soprano sax solo on “Under Attack” and some of the funkier elements or even just the fact that it’s slow and they just associate that with baby-making music. I understand it, I get where people get it, but at the same time it’s just like people have one word for something, and if anything falls anywhere remotely close to it, they just label it. Nowadays anything that’s slow is labeled “sexy” or “baby-making.” It’s basically a cop out.

LAC: Artists nowadays seem to be constantly transcending genres, thus hate genre-labeling.

SH: I guess I never really think about that at all, like how other people are going to label it. Because for me, my job is just to make music, whereas (I think) it’s the job of the critic to place the label on it, and they will. But it doesn’t affect how I make music.

LAC: Did you ever think about how people were going to perceive it? Or was it more of a, “Here I made this, I hope you like it”?

SH: Yeah, I mean I didn’t really think that far ahead in regards to how people are going to perceive it. But you do always think about it a little bit, but for me it was more like, ‘how would I perceive this, is this something that I would want to listen to?’ And if so, that’s good enough for me. I’m not really thinking, ‘Oh, I hope people see it one way or another,’ I’m more thinking about how it sounds to me and if it feels good to me.

LAC: So what’s after the tour?

SH: Been working on a lot of new music that will probably be released as a full length album, I’ve also been working on a lot of new guest vocals, maybe a few more surprises within the few months. As far as for Timeshare, we have some remixes to put out, a music video and more touring in the spring.

Shy Girls is doing Los Angeles a favor and gracing us with two appearances as opposed to one. Catch him this Thursday at The Spare Room and on Friday at Bootleg Theater opening for French Horn Rebellion.

RECAP: VAPE SUPPLY CO. CELEBRATES NEW DTLA LOCATION WITH GRANDEUR OPENING

The fellas at the Vape Supply Co. have finally opened their downtown location doors to the masses, with a party to boot. And we just couldn’t say no to personal invites from owners Aaron, Joe, JC and Ben.

A quaint little shop located on East 6th and Los Angeles Street, had a vape bar in full effect with patrons testing out juice and checking out the shop’s wide variety of pens and mods. Sounds from Cornbreezus on the one’s and two’s built up the glamorous, yet laid-back, motif inside the shop.

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Then, if you were crazy enough to brave the cold, or you downed enough cans of Monaco’s cocktails to make you immune to it, you followed makeshift signs and were directed to the 7th floor rooftop terrace. DJ crew the Beat Junkies’ Babu graced the tables after Pasadena’s DJ Serts held it down for most of the evening’s rooftop festivities with his choice hip-hop selection. A mixture of dope sounds and a clear downtown view made it certainly worth the chill

The Vape Supply Co. downtown opening celebration was beyond appropriate for its second store reveal, especially when comprised with quality folks, good drinks, good music and good food. Did we forget to mention there were tacos? Yeah, there were tacos.

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Photos courtesy of: Roy Mananquil

LONESOME ROAD WARRIOR: DESIGNER ELLIOTT EVAN

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L.A. based menswear designer Elliott Evan single-handedly designs and creates all of his items at his secluded studio located in the edges of downtown’s Art District. There he meticulously and painstakingly constructs his pieces, primarily his one-of-a-kind leather jackets made out of thick animal skin, e.g. buffalo and horse. Additionally, his studio doubles as a garage where he also quietly works on restoring classic two-stroke motorcycles. His discreet and solitary way of working on both his clothing line and street bikes reflects not only the kind of guy Elliott is, but the type of person he designs items for – the lonesome road warrior.

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As a graduate from San Francisco’s Academy of Arts University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design, the 27-year old’s rigid architectural clothing also shows his readiness to artfully experiment. Elliott’s Gothic pieces are usually well tailored with prominent large collars (that at times convert into a hoodie), sleeves that are fitted with constricted elbows, and shoulders with sharp edges. However, even with a flare for dark distinctly shaped pieces, he also instills a level of masculinity, high craftsmanship, and functionality to his well-constructed garments – something that stems from assembling machines.

His second collection premiered early this year at NYFW, his third collection recently had a soft release, and he just  celebrated the launch of some of his items at Church Boutique. We visited Elliott at his studio so he could tell us more about his approach to menswear, his creative process, and the moral obligations of using leather.

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LAC: What’s your approach to menswear?

When I approach menswear there are obviously confines to what a guy is willing to wear. If it becomes too crazy then it becomes just out-there fashion. Although with my stuff, I will go out there and make these crazy shapes – but at the end, it’s about masculinity and making a guy feel like a guy. Usually the places that I focus on are the sleeves and the shoulders. If you don’t have strong shoulders, it’s like all elements of a man are lost. Some of the things I have been striving for are these accentuated shoulder points. You can see the articulation in the sleeves as well. For me it’s important to get that strong arm shape. That kind of element is super important. It’s tech within fashion. I build motorcycles, and it’s all the same. I approach a jacket with the same mind set. I like stripping it down and re-assembling with crazy construction.

LAC: What is masculinity to you?

I have in mind this perfect guy who is looking for freedom, he’s looking for escapism, and at the end of the day he still has to be a man with a perfect jacket. A perfect jacket can change how you feel and act, and I want to be responsible for that; for someone to wear one of my jackets and feel masculine.

LAC: Do you think it’s still masculine to be into fashion?

When I was going to design school there was a strong stereotype and that was something that I was constantly approached with. In our day and age it’s changing. If you are dressed a certain way you can exude power, confidence, and feel maybe a little bit more manly. For me with clothes it all comes back to this feeling of insecurity when I was a kid. Now, if I’m wearing a certain something, the clothes speak for me. I don’t have to do anything. That is a powerful thing for me.

LAC: When did you start becoming interested in fashion?

I always knew I wanted to be involved in artistic things. At 16 I was interning at a store then I moved to the bay area for business school. That didn’t work out so then I ended up in art school.

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LAC: Where do you think your clothing falls into, everyday wear or more costume because it’s so unique?

I’m always evaluating. That’s one of those things, especially because the art school side can make me fall into the costume’ish area but in the end it needs to be worn. I still have to maintain a level of well constructed jackets. There’s that great quote by Bill Cunningham, “Fashion is the armor to survive everyday life.” I create the armor.

LAC: What do you think of the fashion in LA?

Well there’s a strong sense of this LA fashion scene, and I just don’t want to be a part of the same type of silhouettes that they are doing. I want to experiment with something a little different. I just had a release at Church. They have a few selected pieces. They’re the only ones who have my stuff right now. Church has been the biggest step forward.

LAC: Do you feel like an outsider with the other designers here?

With me I do feel a little outside of the circle just because of the way I construct. But everyone here does such great work.

LAC: Let’s talk about your second collection that showed at NYFW…

That collection was closest to my heart. It really showed the guy I have in mind. It was a lot of fun, first time in New York.

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LAC: Who are the designers you are looking to right now?

Carol Christian Poell. He has a message to what he is doing. I strive to have my construction like his.

LAC: Your image is so dark, how intentional is that?

It’s just expressing that darkness a lonely artist often feels.

LAC: How did you get into building bikes?

Again, it’s all about that ideal badass guy. If you’re a rider, your jacket is a necessity. So, I had this archetype for what a cool guy was. I just started hoarding and building bikes. It’s just another art project.

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LAC: The motorcycles you work on are classics. Do you intend to also make timeless clothing or are they of the times and are you going to change as time passes?

I want everything I make to last, especially when using animals. You want to make sure you are using it correctly. The leather pieces I use are left over pieces. They’re not perfect and I like to integrate those imperfections into my jackets.

LAC: Do you feel you have to respect the animal when using its leather?

Oh yeah. I hope I’m doing it justice because I want for it to come to life. And I’m not doing a mass production. I’m doing a single jacket out of scrap leather from a different production who had no use for it.

LAC: What’s next?

Well NYFW is just around to the corner again, so I want to refine my work.