Spotlight: Shadows On Stars (Interview w/ Brian Vincent)

Album Art: Nick Bilardello - Crooked Engine; Photography: Harper Smith

A Spring album, for some glam punk  foot-tapping from pastoral settings. In a coltish compilation of keys and chords, Randa Smith and Brian Vincent take Portland on a magic carpet ride that state has never seen before, with their debut album, self-produced, Shadows On Stars. And it only starts there. Shadows On Stars take electro-dream-punk to cloud nine with in every track beginning with their recent single, I’ll Be The Light. (Check their LP Trailer here). And as their energy italicizes all things euphonious, so do their octaves and every guitar, drum and lyric between, coasting through rays of Telepopmusik and Metric.Even so, their music stands alone as these ardent spirits lift their soles (and souls) to a new generation of sensory overload in the sonic department.

After some amplified buzz around Twitter on the group’s debut track, Now You’re Mine (back in mid 2011), the two have managed to beat the skinny-black-jeans-and-plaid syndrome and come out as fresh-chill Northwesters with some new wave tricks. And they have have set the tone for a fresh genre where not only undertones of electro-punk breakthrough, but also rock, funk, some classical and fuzz-folk. Yeah. That’s about right for this all-inclusive genre shabang.

As young names to the state of Oregon, Randa and Brian share nothing shy of solace for Portland, “Oregon is like a magical garden from a sci-fi movie or something. There is a sense of freedom that comes with knowing that you can escape to a remote environment at any time and that sentiment definitely comes out in our music.” Exactly what we can all look forward to and what they are eager to share. In an up-close with Brian Vincent, some soft light is shed upon their perspectives on music, getting started, what they are most excited about, and how the duo plan to grow as artists in the developing months on their early success. Dont’ miss their full album available on Soundcloud below and their band site Enjoy!

——-  Interview with Brian Vincent of Shadows on Stars, by Angela Gleason ——-
AG: Young, stylish, eye-candy duo from Oregon. What keeps you going in an industry saturated with indie bands, and what do you feel sets your music apart? 

BV: Stylish, eye-candy??!! We love you already! Shadows On Stars is driven by an utter disregard for categorization. People always ask us, “what kind of music do you two make?” or “what genre are you guys?” Our response is always something to the effect of, “ummm…” We know that sounds strange, but we really don’t worry about what we are in comparison to what else is out there and that’s what has helped us be successful thus far.

AG: Wading between electro-pop and new-wave punk, from where do you draw your artistic inspiration for sound appeal, and are there other so-called categories of music you see yourself exploring in your early career? 

BV: We both have extremely eclectic taste in music, so it’s difficult to pinpoint one or two specific artists that inspire us. One minute you might hear us blasting Zebra Katz, the next you might hear us bellowing some mid 90’s Mariah Carey at a party. There are so many brilliant things to take in from music past and present that we could probably write a book answering this question, so in short our goal is to soak in as much music as possible and figure out what is translatable to the Shadows On Stars language. We’re just big ‘ol fucking sponges of all things that we think are awesome.

AG: How has your environment, (being more remote than the common + cliché media music scenes), influenced your work? And when did things really feel like they were taking off? 

BV: Oregon is like a magical garden from a sci-fi movie or something. It’s just absolutely beautiful out here, so we both spend as much time as possible outdoors. Whether it’s the beach, mountains, or wine territory, we’re no more than a two hour drive away from solitude. There is a sense of freedom that comes with knowing that you can escape to a remote environment at any time and that sentiment definitely comes out in our music. We’re not tied to a label and we don’t try to write a certain type of music. At this point in time we’re still taking off, so there’s really not a ton of pressure. We’re free, so to speak, and we’re going to stay that way. If someone ever tries to take that from us we’ll just disappear into the wilderness.

Photography by Harper Smith

AG: What were some of your greatest challenges breaking into music and locking into a direction?

BV: The greatest challenge thus far has been remaining patient. Overnight success takes a long time and we still haven’t even had ours. Chasing a career in music is an extremely humbling journey, so we’ve really had to push each other to stay positive and focused. As a result we’ve become a great team, which is a reward in itself regardless of where our music takes us.

AG: Where were you when you first heard yourself on the radio (or have you yet?!) and what was that like?

BV: Funny you ask that because just a couple of days ago we had our first on-air radio interview. During the segment the DJ actually played our record “Now You’re Mine,” and it was the first time that we had the chance to hear ourselves on the radio. It was kind of surreal and didn’t really hit us until after the show was over. All of a sudden we were like, “oh shit, people were actually listening to that!” We’re still waiting for the day that we accidentally stumble across one of our songs on the radio though, that will definitely be a milestone for the both of us.

AG: Where do you see music headed today, in terms of sound and messaging? Is there a particular message or sound that you aim to project and by which you distinguish yourself? 

BV: One thing that we love about music today is that it’s entirely unpredictable. The progression of music sharing on the internet has inspired a creative climate where more good ideas make it to the ears of listeners than ever before. Our generation is turning over stones that we didn’t even know existed in years prior and as a result we’re hearing some ground breaking stuff. What distinguishes Shadows On Stars is our energy, and that energy comes from who we are as people. We’re convinced that if you come see us perform, or share a bourbon with us, you’ll believe in what we’re trying to accomplish because all of it comes from an honest place. In other words, we’re not out here trying to come up with a strategy to distinguish Shadows On Stars from other bands, we’re just simply being ourselves and luckily that’s been enough so far. The day that it’s not is the day that we’ll quit.

AG: Can you speak a to the music scene in Portland today and how it has changed over the years, and what sets it apart from say, New York, LA, SF, even Austin or parts of Europe…. ?
BV: We’re definitely newbies to the Portland scene, hell we’re newbies to the any scene for the matter, so it’s difficult to speak on how it’s changed over the years. The one thing we can say is that it’s an extremely small city with an insane amount of creative people. The city of Portland has a population in the ballpark of 500,000 people. Of that 500,000 at least 495,000 are musicians or visual artists. Please don’t check these numbers against the census report, because we all know that the census report is bogus. In all seriousness, it’s almost impossible to go out without meeting somebody with creative/artistic aspirations. Portland is a small place with a massive creative punch and we fucking love it here!

AG: What are you most excited about with your debut album release?

BV: We’re excited for listeners to hear our music as an entire body of work. 
When we were putting this project together we weren’t focused on singles or any of that industry bullshit. We just zeroed in on making a complete project that represented not only the diversity of our listening tastes, but the diversity of our human experiences. Shadows On Stars is an “album band.” If singles come out of that process then so be it, but we’re more focused on developing cohesive, interesting bodies of work.

AG: Where do you want to grow as music artists?

BV: We would like to grow as both songwriters and instrumentalists. Both of us are pretty good with a piano or keyboard, but we’d both love to be better guitarists. Songwriting is also an art unto itself, so mastering our writing process is definitely one of our major goals as musicians.

Photography by Harper Smith

About Angela Gleason

visual designer | writer | pianist in the basement | painter in the night | fashion critic | lush | Italian savant check me out: