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.

INTERVIEW: INDIE ELECTROPOP SONGSTRESS, GAVIN TUREK

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Last month, we had the opportunity to see Gavin Turek perform live at the Hotel Cafe — and while Gavin may have started the evening as a little known Los Angeles musician, she was going to make sure no one forgot her name that night.

Like a technicolor butterfly dressed in hot pink lips and a multi-colored fringe dress, Gavin’s body was already pulsing along to the rhythmic chatter of the gathering crowd even before the set began. Her aura sent waves of energy throughout the room as she proved her professional training in dance was not put to waste. Not only was Gavin able to jive and shimmy all night, but she also impressively maintained the silky smoothness of her vocals without losing her breath. (Dear Gavin’s personal trainer: whatever her cardio routine is, we want in!)

If there’s one thing Gavin was sure to keep in mind throughout the night, it was that her entire presence from beginning to end was a sensational performance. Next Friday, Sept 6, Gavin will be hosting an encore performance at the Bootleg Theater timed with the release of her EP, “The Break Up Tape.” We caught up with Gavin to talk about her musical history, inspirations and what curious listeners can hope to see this week.

LA CANVAS: Did you always want to become a musician? Where and when did this aspiration come to you?

Gavin Turek: I’ve always loved to sing but thought I wanted to be a professional dancer. It wasn’t until college that I realized music is the only career path for me. It was in the beginning of college where I started writing a lot and making my own little amateur beats. I got addicted to the process and since I was also falling in love for the first time, I had plenty to write about. I showed my family some of the songs I wrote and my sister Hana was particularly impressed and ended up putting those songs online.

LAC: I read somewhere that you first met TOKiMONSTA on MySpace. How did you two seek each other out for this collaboration and what about her style influences your own songwriting and collaboration together?

GT: Yes! It’s insane. She just messaged me and I responded immediately. At the time I wasn’t sure her style would fit the music I envisioned for myself, but I was really impressed with her. She had already established a brand, was incredibly talented, and producing great music in a male dominated genre. I thought it would be great to at least meet and see what we came up with. Every time I write a song for her, the music dictates the lyrics and emotion; I’m forced me to be honest, vulnerable, contemplative, lonely, etc.

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LAC: I know that aside from working on your upcoming album, you’ve also been collaborating with a lot of producers and artists in the electronic music world. How would you describe your own style of music and what draws you to this electronic music trend? How would you say electronic music complements your own sound?

GT: Good question. Growing up in LA and being exposed to so many different kinds of music, I have always spanned [my musical influences] from folk to reggae to classical to disco . . . I love it all. With that said, figuring out what kind of music I wanted to make was difficult. It started off more influenced by indie rock and now it’s naturally evolving into more of a electronic sound due to the recent collaborations. I feel like music that I need to write to chooses me, in a way, and I hope I continue to experiment and write regardless of the genre.

LAC: What’s the songwriting process like for you? What are subjects you like to write about?

GT: Usually I start off with a melody and gibberish. Then a word or phrase will pop out and I’ll build off that. Sometimes I start with a feeling or a word and let that motivate my lyrics. I love writing about transitions; whether relational, emotional, physical, spiritual, forced or accidental . . . the “in-between” time is a fascinating place to be. Then there’s break-up songs, which I’ve written a handful of. I rarely write about perfect relationships and being in love. Conflict is much more interesting.

LAC: I always feel that not all artists are performers and not all artists are comfortable with being on stage. You are obviously the complete opposite of that. Is there someone you look to for inspiration as a performer?

GT: I loooove being on stage because I see it as my time to release all the energy I’ve pent up throughout the week and truly not care what people think of me. It’s strange in that I often feel much more self-conscious off stage than on. As far as inspiration goes, I really enjoy watching old performance footage of Tina Turner, Diana Ross, and Donna Summer. All of those woman exude an unbelievable amount of confidence, charisma, and beauty in their performances. They have such control of their voices and bodies; every word and movement is intentional . . . it’s amazing. I can only hope to be that captivating!

LAC: Can you tell me a little bit about what goes into preparing for each performance? You have a background in dance as well as singing, but do you ever choreograph your moves before going on stage or is it impromptu?

GT: I prep for every show pretty much the same way. My favorite thing to do is to run in place and/or spastically dance throughout my set in my room. I usually use my deodorant as my mic, I blast the music, and go for it. My neighbors hate me. Right before I go on stage I warm-up, eat the same protein bar I always eat, pray with my mom, and go over the set in my head. Most of my movement is impromptu but there’s a few moments in the set where I break out in full on choreography. Generally, I feel pretty ridiculous when I do that but the audience really seems to like it. No shame!

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LAC: As artists, I’ve noticed there is always this drive for continual self-discovery, both personally and musically. How do you see yourself growing in the coming year? Where do you want to head as a performer and musician?

GT: I see myself transforming in many ways. I see myself being more comfortable in my skin and becoming a better communicator. I am learning more and more that pursuing music can not be all about me. It has to be about people. Whether it’s people that work with me daily or people I meet at a show, I want to continue learning how to communicate more effectively and genuinely. Musically, I feel like I have merely scratched the surface of the potential of the songs, the lyrics, and sound. I am so excited to continue to collaborate while honing in on my sound even more. The stage show has to continue to get better, tighter, more captivating, new dance moves! [I want to] see myself playing huge venues so I’ll be putting in the practice hours this next year . . . that’s for sure.

See Gavin Turek perform at the Bootleg Bar on Sept 6. Tickets can be purchased here.