Off the Track with Twin Shadow – A Conversation About His Night Rally Tour
There is a candor that musician George Lewis Jr. inhabits in bringing his latest album, Eclipse, from paper to record. His band, Twin Shadow, play songs about the relationship between love and loss— a universal truth that hits like a shot in the heart. However, attached to his artful and sincere lyrics are synthesized and contrasting flavors to make your jam all the more appetizing.
Eclipse debuted back in March and it included hit songs such as “Old Love / New Love” and “To the Top,” the latter of which was used in John Green’s film adaptation of PAPER TOWNS. His synthpop brand of music has always exuded a cinematic quality, as though it was attuned to soundtrack a great action scene or thrilling reunion of two lost lovers. Just you check out his music videos below.
Twin Shadow kicked off his Night Rally Tour last month, and is set to descend upon Dallas come Friday (9/11). But while you wait for him to venture our way, check out our interview with the man himself. We dive deeper into his music through a profile where he discusses his tour, latest album, and how his music took shape and came to form.
Alright, before we get into this, I have a quick confession to make. Back in 2010, I went on a date with this girl and it was our first date. I picked her up and everything. Typically, before something like a date, I would spend the day before working on a mix. I threw in a couple of songs off your Forget album along with a couple other bands. While we were on our way, “Yellow Balloon” came on and she said, “I really like your taste in music,” and thus sparked our musical relationship and now we’re happily married, still jamming your records. So, thank you for your work, sir.
Twin Shadow: “That’s awesome! That’s an amazing story. Thank you. Thanks for telling me that.”
Yeah, no problem. What are some of those most important songs to you that kind of captured a moment in time like that, that you still think about today?
Twin Shadow: “I’m trying to think. God, there’s so many of them, you know? There’s so many. I’ve had so many moments like that. I’m really bad with names of songs [Laughs]. You know, through different phases of my life. I remember the Fugees ‘Ready or Not’ being like the soundtrack to my early childhood.
That’s a good one.
Twin Shadow: “Just hanging out with my best friend, who I’m still best friends with, at the basketball court. That’s how we connected, on music. We would always sing that song while we were playing basketball. Things like that. Yeah, I’ve got a million of them. That’s probably a pretty important one though.”
That’s awesome. Yeah, speaking of soundtracks – although different context – your track “To the Top” was used in PAPER TOWNS. Did they come to you to include that in their soundtrack?
Twin Shadow: “Yeah. They were interested in having that put in there at the end of the movie. People always say that about my music: ‘it sounds like movie credits music.’ I thought it was pretty appropriate to go for it and have that song be in the movie.”
Yeah, I’ve always thought that as well. Your music has a very cinematic quality to it. But I really liked “To the Top” at the end of PAPER TOWNS. I found it be very effective. What do you think is the most effective use of a song in a movie to you?
Twin Shadow: “I mean, obviously, the ’80’s movies are really great at having those big banger songs at the end of them. I watched Lars von Trier’s movie called MANDERLAY (2005) and he uses David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ at the end, which I always thought was kind of like a crazy movie that was very quiet throughout and then, to have this like huge, really kind of like for such a dark movie to just a happy song with heavy material, I thought was really cool– the use of that.”
Yeah, man. That movie is pretty crazy. How’s the tour going for you so far?
Twin Shadow: “It’s good! It’s been good. We’ve traveled through Canada. We saw more of Canada than I’ve ever seen in my life [Laughs]. That was cool. We’re now back in the states, in Chicago. We’re actually going to Canada again tomorrow to play in Toronto, which is exciting. Then, we’re back down to Chicago and onto doing some tour dates with Death Cab for Cutie and finishing up the rest of the tour. I guess we’re at the quarter mark.”
Yeah, that’s pretty sweet. We’re excited for you to come to Dallas next Friday.
Twin Shadow: “Yeah, I’m excited. I always love Dallas.”
Yeah. I think the last time you were here, you played at the Granada Theater but I think you’ll like this South Side Music Hall. It’s got a good atmosphere and sound. So, I think you’ll like that.
Twin Shadow: “That’s cool! Yeah. I’m excited to be there. I think we have a couple days there and I might, during the off time, rent some motorcycles and drive around a little bit.”
When you play so many shows around the world, at some degree, each of them begin to become the same. So what makes a show stand out to you? What makes it a memorable experience?
Twin Shadow: “I mean, it’s all about the audience really, you know? We may be very consistent but you’re not just talking about one person’s energy. You’re talking about high level eight hundred, nine hundred people in a room. There’s a collective energy that happens and yeah, that’s what changes the night and that’s what makes it interesting.”
To talk about Eclipse a little bit– when you ordered your track list, was there any kind of rhythm or rhyme or equation to the way that you order it?
Twin Shadow: “I mean, I do my best to just think about how would I want to hear a record play out. I think that’s getting harder and harder to do because I don’t think many people really listen to records as a whole anymore. I don’t even do that so, it’s tough to do that. I usually get a lot of advice from other people.”
Yeah. Tame Impala released like five of their tracks as singles before they dropped Currents; that’s seems to be the new direction now.
Twin Shadow: “Yeah, that’s the future. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’m not sure how a record, as a long form record, I don’t know how long that will be around for anymore.”
I hope for a while. I read that you had about 60 or so songs prepared for Eclipse and then you brought it down to what’s actually on the album. Is that true? You made like a greatest hits out of it?
Twin Shadow: “Yeah, something like that. Yeah. You know, not all of them were finished but there were 60 or so real ideas.”
What’s been the most interesting feedback that you’ve gotten from someone about how they saw themselves in your music?
Twin Shadow: “Yeah. I’ve heard all kinds of things and it’s really kind of amazing to hear. You know, just like the story you told me. I think when you make art, I think it connects with people and they oftentimes feel like you’re talking about them or talking to them directly. Yeah, people have told me lots of amazing things. I can’t remember one particular one off the bat right now but, yeah.”
I saw an interview you did where you talked about changing labels and, at the time, your relationship with Warner was relatively new. Now that it’s been a little bit, have things been smoothing out pretty well?
Twin Shadow: “Yeah! I think everything is great. I’m really happy over there. I love the people I work with and yeah, I’m excited for whatever we’re going to do next together.”
Me too, man. Do you have any plans of putting out anymore music videos other than “I’m Ready?”
Twin Shadow: “Yeah, eventually. You know, with touring and everything, it’s kind of hard to get a music video done.”
Twin Shadow: “Maybe something for ‘Old Love / New Love’. I’m not sure yet.”
Yeah. Speaking of “Old Love / New Love.” To me, it’s about the unhealthy cycle of old love becoming new love. It’s a pretty universal feeling so, whenever you run into old love, you feel like you’re ready but you’re never ready for the pain that comes with it. To you, in your eyes, what makes love last to you? Do you think it’s healthier for people to go through relationships of heartbreak to learn from it?
Twin Shadow: “Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think every relationship that you ever have involves that, even between your parents or your friends. I think all of them, you have your trials and tribulations with them and it’s all a learning experience and all ultimately healthy as long as you don’t keep repeating yourself. I mean, the song is a little bit about someone trying to get back into your life and have you repeat what has happened but then again, you know, to the top I try and talk about how sometimes doing everything all over again, even though it’s all messed up, it’s also important.”
Awesome, man. As a last question, I used to write for my university and the question I always ended on was if you could teach a college course of your creation, what would you teach?
Twin Shadow: “College course of my creation… It’d probably be how to drop out and go live your life.”
And cruise around on motorcycles?
Twin Shadow: “Yeah, if you want [Laughs].”
Twin Shadow stops in Dallas next Friday. You can purchase tickets on songkick.com.
“I’m Ready” (Official Music Video) – Eclipse album
“Five Seconds” (Official Music Video) – Confess album
“To the Top” performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden: