A New Sound: Q + A with Twin Shadow

By NICOLE FREDERICK
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George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, has made a name for himself as the soulful bad boy of R&B, putting out albums filled with layers of synths and drum machines that carry that nostalgic 80’s sound. Lately, he’s left this familiar aesthetic in favor of a more contemporary angle with his current album, Eclipse. On hearing this news, we tracked him down for a phone call while he tours to get updated on his major artistic change, moving cross country from New York to Los Angeles, and of course, what brings on his obsession for motorcycles. And, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery:

LA CANVAS: So, what’s up? How’s tour life these days?

TWIN SHADOW: I’m in Lawrence, Kansas today. First day of really nice weather. Kinda been a strange reunion tour for us. Old high school friends realize you’re in a band and they come out to see you. My kinda brother from another mother came out with his kids and stayed out and partied with us which was very cool.

LAC: You moved to Los Angeles from New York only two years ago. How has your transition here been? What have been some of your favorite pros to living here?

TS: The transition was pretty smooth. I met a lot of people: bar owners, party promoters, people in magazines. I met a lot of cool people very quickly and I felt like I had full access to all Los Angeles had to offer. L.A. is a very peaceful place, yet, I imagine this is gonna change for me pretty soon—and that’s sad but that’s my fault. I like that LA doesn’t fully feel saturated yet. It’s a place were you can go out and do so many things but also be by yourself and find peace. New York keeps you grounded, though, because you never really forget that your sharing a space with such a huge amount of people and I hope I don’t lose appreciation for that.

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LAC: So I read a little fun fact that you lived and recorded this album partially in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Explain, please!

TS: I didn’t live there, necessarily, but I spent most of my time there. But, anyone who decides to record in a cemetery has to kinda put themselves in a place where their okay or else you’ll freak yourself out. I had a car and it was always hard to unlock and some nights I would run to car and fumble with the keys but that was about it. I don’t doubt that there is paranormal activity, but I didn’t experience any.

LAC: Everyone has been mouthing of on how Eclipse has a much different feel than your albums Forget and Confess. How do you feel the response from critics and fans has been to the new album?

TS: I feel the majority of my fans are enjoying this record and accepting the change. I can kinda see that from being on the tour and people are showing up and even with the last recorded some of the hardcore fans thought it was moving in totally different direction, but you will always have that. I don’t pay too much attention to critics so I can’t really comment on that. There will always be people who wanna put you in a certain box. I prefer to just play the music and see what people have to say in person.

LAC: I love the album artwork for Eclipse. The image of you raising your arms while being in shadow is so subtle but powerful. What was the inspiration or ethos behind it?

TS: The art was influenced by the record and vise-versa. We talked about everything being black and white and how the music is kinda the color and black and white is like the framework. We did a couple different shoots for the record, one at the beach, one at the cemetery, one at the imperial dunes. We knew when we saw the shot of me with the tassels that was it. And you take 100s of photos and the images we thought about lunar eclipses, black and white, shadow and everything just felt right. We didn’t think about it that much and it just made sense with the circular motion with the arms.  Someone saw it and said something weird that it looked like a cowboy and I never thought of that way. It’s interesting how an image can be perceived.

https://soundcloud.com/twin-shadow/sets/twin-shadow-eclipse

LAC: On a little less serious of note, since coming to Los Angeles, what are some of your favorite places to hang on your downtime?

TS: I like riding my motorcycle up and down L.A.’s streets and going up to Angel’s Cross is amazing. I like the Griffith Park Observatory. I like going to Little Dom’s restaurant. I like going to my boy’s house in Silver Lake. He has a great back yard and all the motorcycles can park there.

LAC: Obviously, you enjoy motorcycles. Adrenaline junky much?

TS: So, that’s still my main mode of transportation in L.A. I think I am a little bit, yet I’m more calm… but I kinda do wanna start racing.

LAC: Cars?

TS: Like, formula one cars.

LAC: Awesome.

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LAC: Now, who are five of your biggest artist inspirations?

TS: Lucian Freud, Bob Dylan, D’angelo, Thin Lizzy, Kendrick Lamar.

LAC: If you were stuck on an island and only had two songs you could listen to, what would they be?

 TS: Bob Dylan – “Sad Eye Lady of the Low Lands” //  D’angelo – “How Does it Feel Untitled”

For more of Twin Shadow, follow him on SoundCloud & Instagram.

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