Whether it be singing for Let­ter­man or song­writ­ing for Billy Idol, Twin Shadow re­mains un­re­servedly low-key in the lime­light. From min­i­mal­ist sound, to max­i­mal­ist emo­tional con­tent, Schön! un­cov­ers the roots of his new al­bum.

Schon! - - Total Eclipse - Words / Pa­trick Clark

Born in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, adop­tive of Cal­i­for­nia, with stints in Florida, New York and Bos­ton, as well as dip­ping in and out of Europe, Ge­orge Lewis Jr., bet­ter known by his stage name Twin Shadow, is a global child. Af­ter For­get (2010) and Con­fess (2012), the singer, song­writer and pro­ducer (a non-ex­haus­tive list, you’ll be spared) is re­turn­ing to re­lease Eclipse.

The ori­gins of Twin Shadow can be traced back to the years Lewis spent living be­tween New York and Europe, when his sis­ters were re­sid­ing in Ber­lin and his girl­friend in Copen­hagen. “I was kind of like bounc­ing around lots of places and try­ing to be in a friend’s band, which never worked out,” he ex­plains. “Af­ter all of that, I al­most gave up mu­sic in a way. Twin Shadow was kind of born... out of my fear of not play­ing mu­sic.”

Af­ter the Con­fess al­bum and tour, Twin Shadow re­turned to New York, where time and place determined a phase of change. “At that point it re­ally didn’t seem right for me any­more and I went back to Cal­i­for­nia, did more of the same, just go­ing around, work­ing on my bike, work­ing on my car.” While Con­fess, he tells us, was the record­ing of a crum­bling of his per­son­al­ity, Eclipse orig­i­nated from a more dor­mant pe­riod, a sort of come­down from the pre­vi­ous years. “I fi­nally cre­ated a con­sis­tency for my­self, and started the record on that foun­da­tion.”

A hide­out in Sil­ver Lake pro­vided Lewis with the much-needed respite. “I was in this tiny lit­tle bun­ga­low and I re­mem­ber that it was very hard to set up any mu­sic equip­ment any­where, so I guess I cut off from mu­sic a bit.” The crux, for the Eclipse al­bum, was a chance gig in Hol­ly­wood’s For­ever Ceme­tery. A deal with the grave­yard owner, and Lewis ended up set­ting up camp in the chapel amidst the graves. “There was a priest’s quar­ter that I turned into my con­trol room, and then I had this huge empty chapel that I could record in.” With­out a sin­gle living soul in sight, Lewis found he had crafted the space to work. “I could come and go as I pleased. I could come at 4am and the se­cu­rity guard would let me in. I’d lit­er­ally be the only per­son in the ceme­tery other than the guard, al­most a mile away at the front.” Macabre ex­pe­ri­ence? Not at all, he re­torts: “It was pretty amaz­ing”.

Now signed to Warner Bros., Twin Shadow is tak­ing Eclipse into un­con­quered ter­ri­to­ries. “I felt this need to kind of like, scream out of it, be a bit big­ger, be a bit louder, and make one of the louder records.” The sound is vo­lu­mi­nous, lay­ered and com­plex. “I think there’s ac­tu­ally less in­side the mu­sic, which makes it more ex­pan­sive,” he tells us. “There’s this sim­pli­fy­ing of things, cer­tainly it’s not sim­ple – Twin Shadow has al­ways been about lay­ers – but there’s a lot of epic-ness about the record.”

Mu­si­cally, the al­bum is a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion from the first two, with R&B riffs that col­lide with pop-wor­thy an­thems, awe-inspiring vo­cals that are wickedly fer­vent, and lyrics that are, well, lyri­cally as in­tense as it gets. The record em­bod­ies the eclec­ti­cism that Twin Shadow has come to be de­fined by. “It’s just a mix­ture of a lot of things, which I kind of feel makes it a lit­tle bit hard to pin­point.” With an up­bring­ing lis­ten­ing to any­thing from Juan Luis Guerra to Led Zep­pelin, with a de­tour via MTV, Paul Simons and Joe Cocker, Lewis’ back­ground is mul­ti­far­i­ous, to say the least.

The singer-song­writer has his am­bi­tions set high, whilst modestly ac­knowl­edg­ing the steps that have led him to where he is now. Days be­fore we speak to him, Twin Shadow was on air to count­less view­ers for a per­for­mance of Turn Me Up on the Late Show with David Let­ter­man, and has a world­wide tour booked, as well as a list of fes­ti­vals to fill the rest of the year.

From the vul­ner­a­bil­ity and soli­tude of Con­fess, Twin Shadow has let down his guard fur­ther still for Eclipse. “This record is built on an emo­tional foun­da­tion that was a lot stronger,” is his ex­pla­na­tion. “I think [it comes from] a place of open­ness and will­ing­ness to let the out­side world af­fect me a lit­tle bit more. Eclipse is the ac­tual shift­ing of things, com­ing into align­ment, fall­ing out of align­ment.” It’s an au­di­tory roller­coaster, to be sure, and guides will­ing lis­ten­ers through emo­tional highs and lows, in align­ment with Lewis’ own. “I just felt, at this point, who needs an­other chill record,” comes the con­clud­ing re­mark. “You know – we’ve chilled enough, I think.”

Eclipse is out world­wide on 17th March 2015 on Warner Bros. Records.

Tal­ent / Twin Shadow Photography / Mi­lan Zr­nic Styling / Christo­pher Kim

Hair / Daniel Moon Pro­duc­tion / Kylie Fer­gu­son Photography As­sis­tant / Sergiy Barchuk

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