Published Sep 24, 2010The bedroom has always been the studio of choice for the introspective artist, but nine times out of ten, a bedroom recording actually sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom. Twin Shadow (aka George Lewis Jr.) is in the minority, a proud musician and producer with the ability to transcend his limited means by applying a slick new wave sheen to his songs. On debut album Forget, Lewis has an advantage, having received help from Chris Taylor, who's enhanced albums by the Morning Benders, Dirty Projectors and his band, Grizzly Bear. (Taylor also signed him to his label, Terrible.) Lewis definitely has the content, growing up amongst the Ringling Brothers, the Baptist church and the weirdoes on Venice Beach. With a rich set of silky pipes that recall the '80s croon of distinguished frontmen like Ian McCulloch and Edwyn Collins, he brings life to his stories with some intricate and metrical soundscapes. "Shooting Holes," for one thing, sounds like a lost B-side to Arthur Russell's "Get Around To It," with its swooping strings, iridescent synths and elastic rhythm section. Forget is whimsical and pensive, an album defiant of genre that's designed to be fully absorbed through your headphones.
What made you sell your album online for one dollar? How did that experiment work out?
We wanted people to get into the music early. The record wasn't due to come out until September 28, so releasing it through my website for a dollar seemed to be the best way to get people talking about the music early on. I also don't usually steal from the dollar bin; it seems to have been a good experiment.
How did you hook up with Chris Taylor?
A good friend gave him some tunes. I didn't hear anything for a long time, then one day I got a rad email from him. He was stoked; I was stoked.
You're known as a "bedroom producer." Why bring in Chris to help out?
Because I wanted a bigger sound. I know that everyone now is a "bedroom producer," which I think is great, but often times I hear "bedroom" music and it sounds small, just like a shitty little apartment. I had big ideas for this record and I wanted them to be put next to music that could reach a greater audience.
For a bedroom recording, it's far from lo-fi and quite vivid. What were some of the tricks you used to achieve such a rich-sounding album with such low-budget means?
I was very focused about what I wanted the record to sound like; I worked to the best of my ability to not make it sound like it was underwater. It still sounded a bit that way, so enter Chris Taylor. I wanted the record to be pop and so did he; we took my recordings and added things that Chris thought would make the record shine more. And we mixed it on a big board and asked ourselves constantly, "What would Quincy do?"
You signing to 4AD made complete sense. What was it about that label, specifically, that sold you on the idea?
There are many reasons, including the history and the bands that are, and have been, associated with the label. It probably made sense to me the way it makes sense to you. I also met the people at 4AD and was amazed by how great they were.
Time Out rated you as one of New York's most stylish citizens. How does your fashion sense communicate or influence your music?
Music gives you the chance to be greater than yourself, just as fashion can. I am attracted to the look of anything that has been crafted with great attention to beauty. I want to look as my music sounds to me.
Over the last few months, you've become the latest obsession for the indie music blogosphere. What have been the ups and downs of this attention?
Have I? It's all ups for me right now; people are listening to my music, which is important, because I make it for them. Obviously when you become exposed for sharing something personal to the world, you are subject to criticism that is or isn't justified, but I see it all as a positive thing.
Does your twin sister play any part in Twin Shadow?
Not really, but she will probably take my place when I retire.
Do you see yourself as more of a producer, musician or singer?
I see myself as all of those things equally, but it took a long time to feel that way.
Your bio calls you a "troubled son." What kind of trouble did you see growing up?
I knew that question would emerge one of these days. I tell my "gory" stories to people I know and trust, everyone else can listen close to the music and hear the same stories. There is so much more music to make, so many stories to tell.
I've read you saying you're a very forgetful person, hence the album title. How often does your memory affect your art?
Well, that's the funny thing; I am not forgetful when it comes to making my art. I am forgetful when dealing with the business of my art making, or in my relationships with people. (Terrible)