Let me introduce you to Shallows, an exciting new electronic music project who recently dived into the musical deep end when they published their debut track, Enso, on Soundcloud.
“I always fall in sequence not as one,
I think I always fall where I know it can be undone…”
Hailing from Winchester, Shallows are guitarist Paul, keyboardist and drummer Matt, and vocalist Jo. Only recently formed, they were drawn together by a shared love of all things artistic – poetry, film, art installations, and well, music obviously – together with a strongly held desire, to create a unique sound, through adopting a more exploratory, and collective cross-arts approach, to the creative process.
I asked Shallows to give us some background, including influences:
Jo: “I started writing when I was 15; poems, journals, anything that came into my head. As I got older, I found singing to be quite cathartic, a positive way of vocalising and being “loud”. It wasn’t until recently that I actually realised that being creative was less about doing something different, and more about being an outlet for exploring the mind”.
Matt: “I started playing with bands at 15, getting to drum with the likes of The 45s and Aqualung. I get inspired by collaborating in the creative process. I’m really into film soundtracks by iconic composers like Philip Glass and Ennio Morricone as well music by more contemporary performers like Laura Mvula.”
“Dawn of the killing sun, life has come undone”
What about approach?
Matt: “Shallows as a project, is very different in approach, to what I’ve experienced before. It has a disparate style of music, which has it’s challenges, but is equally as exciting.”
Paul: “Yeah. The plan for Shallows was to collaborate with like-minded people and develop a coherent body of music, with varying themes and imagery, that would draw on our collective skills. The tracks we’re working on form a lose narrative that links them together, but the project as a whole is quite free-flowing, and, if an idea is good, we throw it in.”
Who does what? Well, this co-operative trio share creative responsibilities as well as song-writing and production duties.
Jo: “We all bring different elements to the project. There is a real openness, we discuss everything. We all get an equal chance to show our skills and participate in the production process and I’ve found that working so closely with the guys, has helped open up my mind to other ways of writing, which compliment my voice.”
Matt: “Paul is a great songwriter with a fantastically precise eye/ear for detail. As well as having a naturally effortless vocal, Jo writes great lyrics and melodies.”
Jo: “I feel Paul is almost like a director. In the short time we have been working together, he has learned how to get the best out of my voice. We have a lot of confidence in his opinions. Likewise with Matt. He just seems to know what both Paul and I are talking about, and, he has the technical skill to turn a noise into a legitimate usable sound.”
So what next? Well, Shallows are currently putting together new material for a live set, with a view to ultimately releasing an album.
Paul: “There are plans to play our music live at some point in the near future. That will be interesting! There’s such a natural progression to the way we are putting things together that I find it creatively satisfying and am very excited to see what comes next.”
Matt: “Short Term we are looking at writing an album of around nine songs, including instrumentals, which we’ll hopefully bring to life, when we perform in a live setting”
Shallows debut track Enso, was recently featured on the Fresh on the Net Listening Post. Written by Paul, it was inspired by a trip to Japan. The lyric is wrapped around the theme of destruction and rebirth – of facing obliteration, looking it in the eye, kicking it in the teeth and rising to the challenge of “renaissance”. Enso is a piece of trenchant electronica, interspersed with some 90s Bryan Adams jangly guitar and a rich vocal that is so evocatively deep it could have been mined from the ends of the earth.
Listen to it here on Soundcloud.
“Shallows, incredible voice! Great tune, haunting!” Zahra
Following on from Enso, Shallows have just released AM, which I’m delighted to be able to premiere. An impressive electro-indie ballad written by Jo, she cites “relationships, the body and sense of self” as her inspiration.
“It’s about losing control, throwing yourself into situations and being open to new experiences. It’s also about having different identities and exploring gender.” We won’t give away too much, we don’t want to ruin the surprise: think Sade but with less sax and more sex, swimming through white spaces between pirouetting piano chords, fanned by orgasmic jungle drums.
Get the picture?