George Lewis Jr., who records and performs as Twin Shadow, sounds distant over the phone. His voices sounds weary, which we're willing to attribute to his constant touring schedule. He's worn-out but sharp, his mind seemingly on a constant rush. It's a fascinating world, the life of a musician, especially one whose perceived eccentricities have played a huge role in his rising star.
Lewis Jr. draws inspiration from personal stories about relationships, both present and past, and experiences on the road. Sometimes, it's difficult to separate the man in the music from the man who creates it.
His full-length debut, Forget, sounds accomplished, a confident highlight from a musician who seems well versed in his creative process. With his forthcoming release Confess, Lewis Jr. appears to be on a constantly evolving quest to expand and explore his creative palette.
Up On The Sun caught up with Lewis Jr. for a quick glimpse into his fascinating mind. We spoke about the spontaneity and commitment to making honest music.
Up on the Sun: You've been to Arizona a few times. Tucson's the last show I remember, how was that?
George Lewis: I don't remember much from that show, but it was cool. I actually got the guitar I play now from a store in Tucson.
Have you been to Arizona for something other than a show before?
Yeah, actually one time I was playing bass for a band and we were in Tucson and hung out for a couple of days, and I did some hiking there. It was fun.
How has the landscape of New York affected your music?
It's hard to say. It's not tangible enough to put down in words how it's affected me; I just know that it has. I couldn't say it did or didn't, because I didn't do anything. I traveled a bit; I'm not sure how it's affected me.
Tell me about the subject matter you attempted to address on the new record, Confess. How did you conceptualize the record?
I don't really conceptualize at all; I just try to write what's on my mind. You just start to see patterns form, and I like to still think of an album as an album, different songs inform other songs on what the kind of stance should be. I don't think about it too hard.
Were there certain specific issues you were trying to address?
It's all really hard to say and talk about. I really don't have a process, I don't believe in processes when making music. It's not like making a movie -- it's a bit more abstract than that. It's not like I'm telling a very linear story, so there aren't rules, it's very spontaneous, and very kind of random.
The video for "Five Seconds" was something of a short film.
I wrote the story for that, and I knew that I had some music videos coming up that we needed to make and I didn't really want to do the whole having a director interprets a song, so I just took some of my creative ideas and tried to make them work, and because of budget constraints, I had to adapt it and give it a story. It was fun, no great manifesto, and I don't expect it to get in the Criterion Collection, but it was a really good time, and it was fun to try to create a world with very little money.
And this idea grew out of the novel you wrote?
When I was in Australia, I started writing it [the book], and then after touring, a friend of mine, Eric, and I continued to work on it together. It's something that we have plans for, it's slowly going to come out, in a way, not really sure. It is kind of another hobby.
Do you see yourself writing more in the future?
Yea, I definitely think so. It's definitely something that interests me.
Creatively, what's more challenging for you, writing a novel or making music? Music is much more of a challenge, in a way. Because, it's more emotional, it's more of a thing where you have to be really honest with yourself to get it out; writing is more fun for me, music is fun but it's more than that, it's a spiritual kind of commitment, in a way. So the story goes that your new record was inspired by a motorcycle accident. How so?
I just want to make it clear that -- I don't know how, I need to read the press release apparently -- but the record wasn't inspired by that, it's something that I talked in my record because I was thinking about it because I just bought a new motorcycle, and it was more like, I'm just glad to be around, making music, that was the sentiment I was trying to deliver there, that I'm grateful to be making music at this time. What really inspired the record were the people and the relationships that are in my life right now, and my experiences in the last few years with not being home much, and having a hard time keeping relationships healthy.
Do you think you've been able to balance that change in your life? I haven't been able to, that's the problem. I'm figuring it out.
I'm sure it's something you need to continue figuring out, and evolving in that sense. Do you think you've learned more as you've progressed as a musician? Certainly. I think I've learned a lot. I just need to figure out how to apply everything.
Twin Shadow is scheduled to perform Tuesday, September 4, at Crescent Ballroom.