• About A Band: Twin Shadow

    Twin Shadow's George Lewis is a musician who completely transcends being locked into any specific genre. His work ranges from '80s-inspired new wave to R&B, from dance to rock. It can just as easily be listened to in the confines of your bedroom as it can in the car with the windows down (even he admits: "I really should just come up with an answer for how to describe my music, but I never really have one. It changes from record to record.") And with an upcoming U.S. tour, a new album coming out in early 2015, and a performance in Hawaii this month to celebrate our new UO store opening, we have a lot to look forward to from the LA-based musician. We caught up with him about recording his new album in a cemetery, FKA Twigs, and making music that goes "all over the place." 
    Promotional Photos by Milan Zrnic

    What are you up to right now?
    I’m currently in an Uber car in Los Angeles going to pick up my motorcycle. I was working all night at Paramount Studios mixing the last song on my record, and I was physically so tired after it that I couldn’t even get on my bike, so I took a cab home.

    What kind of motorcycle do you ride?
    An old 1972 Bonneville.

    Let's talk about the new album. How has your sound changed? And where did you work on it?
    I tried to get more focused with it, more minimal and simpler. I’ve been trying to trim the fat recently on a lot of my songs. I started working on it in the Los Angeles Hollywood Forever Cemetery—there’s a chapel in the cemetery that I rented out and built a studio in.

    What was the writing process for the new album? Do you start on guitar and expand from there?
    No, I rarely start on guitar. It’s weird, guitar is the first instrument I took time to play well, and now I don’t ever really play it. And I’m a really bad piano player, but I write all my songs on the piano. It usually starts there and then it kind of gets layered. I write the idea down and slowly build drums around it, and then fill it with everything else.

    Your songs can be played pretty much anywhere, so how do you keep your songs from being pigeonholed into a certain area?
    I don’t try, but I just don’t feel like I do genre-based music. So there’ll be one song that’s more dance, R&B, or rock-leaning. But they never fit 100 percent into one place or genre, which I think helps. I think a lot of people set out to make a dance record, or make a rock record, or an updated R&B record. And I just don’t really think about those things when I’m working. It’s just about songs. It’s spontaneous and rarely becomes one thing. It kind of goes all over the place.

    Who would be your dream collaboration?
    Probably someone like Burial. He’s probably the most innovative sound maker around. The old me would have said Bob Dylan.

    If you could redo the score to any movie, which would you pick?
    That’s tough. I only say this because I really loved the movie, but I really loved the music in it as well, but "Doom Generation." I’d love to do music for a Gregg Araki movie.

    What other up-and-coming musicians are on your radar right now? Do you have a favorite album from this year?
    Obviously I think the FKA Twigs album is a really cool record—I’m excited for all of the sounds she’s bringing to the table.

    You recently performed live for the Public School runway show. How did that happen?
    I’ve been doing music for them since they started doing runway shows. They contacted me a long time ago and really liked my music, and said their first collection was partially inspired by my music and my look. I went to go visit them in their office, and just hanging out with them they’re such solid people and exciting to work with. It was the first time I performed live: I usually just write the music and send it over and they play it. It’s really exciting to have a constant collaboration in the fashion world with people I really care about and believe in. It doesn’t ever really feel like a job, it’s just an amazing creative experience. Before Twin Shadow my job was writing music for a dance company, so it’s kind of been a part of my world doing things like that.

    What's your favorite city to play?
    It’s always fun to play New York, because it’s kind of like a homecoming. I haven’t been living there recently so it’s nice when I get to go. We were just in Berlin and that was amazing, and also were really blown away by a recent show in London. We haven’t had that type of reaction from the UK audience before. Really, any place where people show up and have a good time is a great place for us to play. I’m also really excited about playing Hawaii! We’ve never been there before.

    What are your essential guitar pedals and effects?
    I used to be really dedicated to what that was, and now I have this thing where I like finding shitty pedals that sound terrible and playing through them because I like the challenge of making them sound good. One pedal that I’ve used forever is this really cool Ibanez pedal from the late 70s that’s like a compressor, chorus, and auto-filter all in one. Right now I’m really into playing my Gibson Les Paul and this weird Kramer shredder guitar. It’s weird, I have a real love/hate relationship with the guitar. Some days I never want to look at one or hear one again, and some days I’m like “This is the greatest instrument ever.”

    UO is hosting a special UO Live performance by Twin Shadow on 12/12 at Honolulu's Republik. Stop by the store to get a wristband for the show!