Throwback Thursday: Twin Shadow Interview from 2010 | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, June 19th, 2024  

Throwback Thursday: Twin Shadow Interview from 2010

The Persistence of Memory

Aug 21, 2014 Twin Shadow Photography by Tommy Kearns Bookmark and Share

For Throwback Thursdays we are posting classic interviews from the Under the Radar print archives to our website. Under the Radar used to keep its print articles exclusive to the print magazine and so there are a lot of older articles that aren’t to be found on our website. For this Throwback Thursday we revisit our 2010 article on Twin Shadow, our first interview with George Lewis Jr. It was in honor of his debut album, Forget. The interview appeared in our Pleased to Meet You new artists section, but two years later Lewis appeared on our cover, for a special In-the-Studio 2012 section, appearing with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth. Twin Shadow is working on his third album, the follow up to 2012’s Confess. Read on as George Lewis Jr. discusses the beginnings of Twin Shadow, the long distance relationship that inspired Forget, and his childhood musical tastes.

A vivid documentation of a relationship’s deterioration over the course of time and distance, Twin Shadow’s debut album Forget was in large part inspired by Brooklyn-based songwriter George Lewis Jr.‘s own transcontinental romance.

Lewis, who essentially is Twin Shadow on record, admits, “I’ve had an on-and-off-again relationship with this person who lives in Denmark, and that’s a huge part of this record. Losing someone because of space is a thing a lot of people deal with, and it’s such a hard thing because you’re torn between compromising your own time and space to push extra hard to get literally across thousands of miles to be with someone.”

Lewis acknowledges that he’s still involved in this relationship but grows reticent when pressed for more details, instead coyly revealing, “A lot of the record was also about my impressions of love and relationships before I’d actually experienced it, just observing it in other people.”

Beyond the thematic content, Forget‘s electro-pop pulsations seem incongruous with Lewis’ more recent artistic endeavors. Growing up in Venice, Florida, he developed a late-adolescent fascination with the halcyon years of punk, thanks to a friend exposing him to an early Sex Pistols live film. Without much of a guiding impetus, Lewis hit the road in his 20s, peripatetically hopping around overseas, residing in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden for brief stretches. Later fronting a No Wave, punk-influenced band (“Kind of angry like Fugazi,” according to Lewis) while splitting time between Brooklyn and Boston, he quickly became disillusioned with music making, at which point he retreated back to Berlin to work with his sister on theater projects.

Out of the blue, Lewis received an email from Eddie Bezalel, the New York-based manager of Cymbals Eat Guitars. Bezalel inspired Lewis to consider making music again and became his manager. “He asked if I had songs, but I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do. So I came back to Brooklyn, and it became very obvious what I needed to do. I had to indulge myself in the things, pre-punk rock obsession, that interested me. It was Boys II Men, 2 Live Crew, and California gangster rap. That was Florida to me. And The Cure and Morrissey. Creating music that was a lot more complex in my mind than just being an angry kid.”

So the nascent seeds of what became Twin Shadow were planted. And while The Cure and Morrissey influences seem more prominent than rap or R&B, the record exudes a certain youthful wonderment. With production duties assumed by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, who’s also releasing the record on his Terrible Records imprint, Forget is a tightly condensed nine-song album largely devoid of filler. Lewis points to filmmaker Ingmar Bergman as an inspiration for his writing and editing process.

“One thing that inspired me was when I saw The Seventh Seal, and there’s the actor and his wife and they’re in this caravan, and death is leading these people whose lives he’s taken and they’re dancing over this hill. In the movie it’s beautiful, and you go back and you read his director’s notes, and there’s a poem describing how it should be filmed, and it’s still beautiful. And my thing with writing the lyrics is that I wanted to write down ideas and words and just take what’s potent and put it in the songs and leave the rest to myself. We live in such an era where there’s so much amazing shit going on, but the pile of trash is growing so much faster than the pile of good stuff, and a sin you can make is to add to the pile of bad stuff, so to trim it down is so important.”


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