TO NO COMPARISON: PORTLAND’S SHY GIRLS TALKS MOONLIGHTING FOR HIS MUSIC
Portland’s Dan Vidmar, otherwise known as Shy Girls, is an up-and-coming vocalist-slash-producer-slash-artist that has been slated to aid in the City of Roses’s R&B resurgence, but he’d be the last person to tell you that. Similar to a majority of this music generation’s genre-transcending artists, Shy Girls hates labels and hates to be compared, especially when it involves the words, “sexy,” “baby-making,” or “The Weeknd.” But in what other ways could you describe vocals that are airy in tone yet sultry and emotional in delivery? How else are you to supposed to treat clear production, with melodies that are minimalist and captivating at the same time? What else can be said for songwriting so delicate and empathetically-driven? As far as Shy Girls is concerned, he says to let the music speak for itself. Check out the interview below to see what he has to say for himself.
LAC: How’s life? You’re on tour right now and released the Timeshare EP a few months ago, what’s life been like since?
SH: It’s been good. Tour’s been like a bunch of highs and a bunch of lows, but overall it’s been great. We’re having a good time going through it and the EP has been doing really well, we’re pretty satisfied with the reception.
LAC: It’s not your first project though, right?
SH: It’s my first release technically because Sex in the City was kind of a collection of demos that sort of became “released.” Its really just something I sort of started sharing around with friends on SoundCloud and I packaged it up and released it on Bandcamp, Timeshare is the first actual release.
LAC: How did you get in touch with Cyril Hahn to make “Perfect Form”?
SH: Cyril got in touch with me after he heard “Under Attack,” and basically said that he was looking for a vocalist and releasing the track on PMR [Records]. I was super stoked because I loved his remixes and I was a big fan, so I was all for it. We approached it where I gave him an a cappella because I knew he was used to remixing vocal stems, so I gave him just that. I recorded the song in the studio as I pictured it in my head, sent it to him and let him do all the production.
LAC: That’s not really a normal way to make track though is it?
SH: Yeah, it isn’t. But we sort of strategically did it that way because I felt that’s how I work best. If I’m sent a track and it’s really busy or there’s a lot going on, that sort of gets in my head and I can’t really sing or create the melodies I would otherwise. And he also works that way where he starts with an a cappella – like the Destiny’s Child remix – where he took the vocals of the track and built around that. We just kind of figured out over a couple emails that that was the best way to approach it.
LAC: So I understand that you work in a hospital emergency room. Did that impact the writing process of your music in any way?
SH: People ask me that a lot and I don’t know if I can say that it impacted me directly. I think that maybe down the road I can look back and say something like, ‘Oh, that time in my life was totally sculpted by the things I saw at work,’ but I think it’s really too immediate right now to say that. I can’t quite connect the dots yet. I mean, I do see a lot of people at work – a variety of personalities and experiences in general. Most people go through their day seeing a certain spectrum of behavior and I feel like I see a much larger spectrum of behavior so that probably in some way effects how I approach the personalities I saw.
LAC: I think the idea is that working in a hospital, you see people on the edge of their emotions, and in turn, whether by coincidence or not, translated into Timeshare, which is noted for its high-emotion.
SH: Well yeah, the idea makes sense because working in the hospital you see people that are feeling intense emotion, much more than you or I. It’s still hard [to make the connection] though, because when I come home from work, I tend to shut that part of my life off because I have to. It’s the only way to do that kind of work, is to leave it at work. It’s hard for me to think that ‘Oh, work is affecting me,’ in an immediate sense, because it isn’t really.
LAC: Given that, what did influence the EP?
SH: I guess it was just a lot of social experiences. In the last two years, there have been new friendships made, changes in relationships, transitioning from this point where I was sort of working all the time and spending time alone into this world where I have a lot intense relationships with people and being able to navigate that world. I guess that was that.
LAC: So where did the name come from?
SH: There really isn’t a good story, to be honest. It’s kind of a random thing, but it does kind of make sense with the music, to me at least – there’s kind of a feminine side to it, an intimate sense about it. I think also when I first started doing it, I had to come up with it at some point and I needed a name to put onto this body of work I created to send to my friends.
LAC: Why don’t you like the term “baby-making music”?
SH: I think people hear the soprano sax solo on “Under Attack” and some of the funkier elements or even just the fact that it’s slow and they just associate that with baby-making music. I understand it, I get where people get it, but at the same time it’s just like people have one word for something, and if anything falls anywhere remotely close to it, they just label it. Nowadays anything that’s slow is labeled “sexy” or “baby-making.” It’s basically a cop out.
LAC: Artists nowadays seem to be constantly transcending genres, thus hate genre-labeling.
SH: I guess I never really think about that at all, like how other people are going to label it. Because for me, my job is just to make music, whereas (I think) it’s the job of the critic to place the label on it, and they will. But it doesn’t affect how I make music.
LAC: Did you ever think about how people were going to perceive it? Or was it more of a, “Here I made this, I hope you like it”?
SH: Yeah, I mean I didn’t really think that far ahead in regards to how people are going to perceive it. But you do always think about it a little bit, but for me it was more like, ‘how would I perceive this, is this something that I would want to listen to?’ And if so, that’s good enough for me. I’m not really thinking, ‘Oh, I hope people see it one way or another,’ I’m more thinking about how it sounds to me and if it feels good to me.
LAC: So what’s after the tour?
SH: Been working on a lot of new music that will probably be released as a full length album, I’ve also been working on a lot of new guest vocals, maybe a few more surprises within the few months. As far as for Timeshare, we have some remixes to put out, a music video and more touring in the spring.
Shy Girls is doing Los Angeles a favor and gracing us with two appearances as opposed to one. Catch him this Thursday at The Spare Room and on Friday at Bootleg Theater opening for French Horn Rebellion.