So, for people who don’t know, please introduce yourself. Who are You
and what do you do?
My name is Brian and I compose and perform electronic music under the moniker Shapeless Shadow. I am based in Brooklyn, New York and have been living here for about 4 months. I’ve had an interest in electronic composition since an early age but have been active in releasing electronic music for 2 years or so. I have one official EP currently released, which Gergaz will be re-releasing through their site.
What’s Your musical background?
I started getting interested in music when I was around 13 years old after stealing a lot of my sister’s albums that she had lying around, mostly popular rock and hip hop type stuff. I’ve always had a love and appreciation for electronic sounds though since I was one of those little kids that played Nintendo and Sega obsessively. 8-bit sounds are still something I absolutely love and equate a lot of that sound to what I am doing today. Later on I picked up the guitar and have played in different types of bands but electronic music has remained a constant obsession for me no matter what band/project I’m involved in. I love collaborating but I often find myself wanting to do things on my own…We’ll see what the future holds for all that.
Where do you get your inspiration / motivation from?
That’s a tough question to answer, but I’d say I’m mostly inspired by what my friends are doing artistically in their own lives. I’m lucky to have very talented people around me and when I see them perform or create I tend to want to do that as well. I also get a lot of motivation when I view or experience a work of art and am moved emotionally by it. Those moments can be few and far between but when it happens it can quite a motivator to work hard on your own art. A more obvious motivator is to make music so that I have an excuse to travel around playing shows and meet new people. I’ve worked crappy jobs and music has always been a means of escaping from those situations for me.
You have a great visual on cover/www, its your work? (http://shapelessshadow.com)
Thank you! My friend Paul Coates actually did the artwork. I wish I did but unfortunately I’m not much of the visual artist… I met Paul a while back when we were both visiting New York and he offered to draw up some
designs for me. We ended up staying in close contact for a few months and he sent over some really great artwork and a finished website that I am currently hosting my album on. I’m terrible at articulating how I want things to look so I gave him pretty much free reign on the designs. Paul is really patient and attentive to detail so it was great to work with him.
How would you describe your sound?
I’d say my sound could really be summed up as controlled chaos! It’s a lot of frenzied drum patterns with loads of synthesizer arpeggios and intertwined melodies. I really wanted to throw as much at the listener as I
could on this EP and I think I succeeded in that goal. This EP was also an experiment in making music that sounds like it’s on the brink of falling apart and contains a lot of seemingly unrelated compositional elements. Most electronic stuff I hear today is a bit boring to me so I guess I subconsciously
wanted to create something that was a little over the top and crazy.
What’s your usual LIVE set up?
My live setup is currently going through a major overhaul that I am very excited about! For a while I was just playing tracks off my laptop and controlling elements with an effects processor, which was obviously painfully boring to both the audience and myself as a performer. Within the last 6 months or so I got my hands on a really great MIDI controller that has added a lot of flexibility and spontaneity to my live show. I can essentially
trigger any part of any song in real-time using Ableton Live and create remixes and new renditions of songs on the fly without any restrictions. My setup is small, consisting of a laptop, effects processor, and MIDI controller, but simplicity is crucial for me to keep things consistent.
How do you approach a tune? Drums first? Melody?
My process for writing a track varies a lot, which keeps things interesting. I couldn’t imagine making every track the same way although I suppose that would have some benefits. I generally start with a melody synth line or a drum pattern, or perhaps a sample I’ve had lying around. I recycle a lot of ideas that don’t always get used and try to make them work in different contexts. It’s mostly just a lot of experimentation until something clicks musically and I find an angle to approach the track. Once I have a basic structure I’ll begin working on building different movements within the track. I’ve always loved artists who incorporate a lot of segues and buildups/ breakdowns in their sound so it was inevitable I’d do the same. The music is really all about movement for me. As long as the song goes in some particular direction the steps I take to get there are irrelevant mostly.
Why do You want to release Your own music on GERGAZ netlabel?
Gergaz approached me a few months ago about releasing my EP and I was really impressed with their roster of artists and the type of label they are running. I come from a DIY music background and I firmly believe in the idea of artists helping each other without the stress of trying to turn a profit. I am also interested in working with the label because it will help in getting my music heard by more listeners in a region of the world that I can’t realistically play live in on a normal basis. It made perfect sense to join Gergaz and be a part of a really eclectic mix of artists. Maybe someday we can all meet and have a beer!
Are You looking for an independent label deal or a major label deal? (Why?)
I am open to any label that puts out records that I find inspiring and has a genuine love and appreciation for music and the creative process. If the label wants to get me rich though I won’t complain! I’m a big fan of labels like Warp and Ghostly International who seem to balance creative freedom with making a profit for their artists. I care little about making money with my music but it wouldn’t be bad if I could focus solely on that and pay my rent.
What are your influences outside of music?
My main influence outside of music is probably just my desire to contribute something creative to this crazy, weird world we live in. If I weren’t making music I’d probably be terribly bored and depressed so I do it mostly out of necessity. As long as I can keep making music that I am excited about I will always be influenced to keep going. When I was writing a lot of the tracks for the EP I knew little to nothing about electronic music, so the learning process because my main influence at that time. Music isn’t as much of an influence on me as just needing to do something to stay healthy and fulfilled. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but creating music has always been something that has kept me grounded.
What do You have planned for the rest of the year?
The rest of the year I plan on finishing up a full-length album I have slated to be released sometime next fall. The new album is going to consist of some older tracks from the EP as well as a lot of new stuff. It’s coming together pretty well but I see that being my main project for the next few months. I also want to do some remixes and just take everything day by day. It should be an exciting new year for this project and I hope
everyone enjoys what I plan on releasing. Most of my rough ideas can be found here http://soundcloud.com/shapeless-shadow Thanks for reading and I appreciate the interview!