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  • Writer's pictureSandeep Raghavan

In conversation with "The Shadowboxers"

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

"The Shadowboxers" take us on the sonic journey of a lifetime with their latest album “The Slow March Of Time Flies By”. Bringing you some funk flavours paired with rich vocal arrangements, they really give you a sense of retro nostalgia while offering you some modern flavours too. This record was self-produced as they wanted to keep as much control over the creative output. The Shadowboxers have had an extremely successful career touring with the likes of “Indigo Girls” and “Justin Timberlake” and given that this album reflects so much mastery, I’m sure that they’re going to continue to be prominent figures on the global stage for a very long time.

We have some more insight into their world in the interview below:

1. What made “The Shadowboxers” go the independent route for this record?

We went the independent route for this record because we felt our artistry pulling us in that direction. Our experiences with labels and artist development companies have never yielded music that we all feel represented by, so with this album we wanted to go back to square one. After recording and touring with Justin Timberlake, and all of the attention and opinions that went with it, we felt the need to get small again, call our own shots, and make music that is 100% our own.

2. Can you tell us more about the studio where this album was recorded in?

We recorded the album in the basement of an old law firm in Pasadena. It was built in the 70s to record commercial jingles for United Airlines...I it's completely sound-treated, but was filled with old boxes and files when we got there. So we cleared all that out and set up shop in this small basement studio, and that became our office for a year and a half. Our lease on the studio just ended last month, so in a lot of ways it's sounds and memories are imprinted on this album and this album alone.

3. What inspired the falsetto three part harmonies that feature in a lot of your music?

It's been equal parts aesthetic choice and necessity to have our sound revolve around three-part harmony. Independently we have three very different voices: Adam's got a warm baritone (guy needs to host a quiet storm radio show at some point), Matt has a powerful chest voice, and Scott has a really pure higher tone. If we were to all sing in our sweet spots together, our blend would sound like three simultaneous conversations. So it makes the most sense for Adam and Matt to push their tone into head voice, closer to where Scott's voice lives, resulting in a blend that's buttery but can also cut.

4. What’s the one piece of advice you can give to aspiring independent musicians?

Our advice to aspiring independent musicians is to play to your strengths (not just your interests) and make one of those strengths YOUR THING. You should always feel good taking risks, stepping outside your comfort zone, and challenging yourself, but anchoring your art in something consistent and unique to you is what will really define you as an artist. If you're a guitar player, do you use a pedal in a weird way or have a tone that you've never heard anyone else use? Do people tell you "your voice is so different." Do you have a distinct lyrical style? First and foremost, find this thing, hone it, and know you can always rely on it. We say this specifically for independent artists because even without a label, there's still a lot of noise, an infinity of options, sounds, plugins, photo filters, may feel a lack of guidance at times, and this creative anchor (for us it was our harmony blend) is important to treasure and treat as a north star when you're relying on yourself.

5. You’ll have been active in the Industry since 2008, What are some of the biggest changes and challenges you’ll have experienced?

The biggest change and the biggest challenge has been coming up in the industry at the same time that home studio production became feasible for a pounding-the-pavement band. In the first 5 years of our existence, we toured and toured and toured and toured so that we could save up enough money for a few days in the studio where we were at the mercy of whatever producer we could afford. And then back on the road. It may as well have been 1965 cause it was the same model back then. But we got tired of not having any control or time to hone our studio craft. And this was at the same moment that the gear and the technology was finally affordable enough to record at home and actually make something that didn't sound miserable. That's where our evolution really accelerated. 6 years later, we recorded and produced the entirety of The Slow March Of Time Flies By ourselves. Also, Spotify was released in the same year and month that our band was formed (October, 2008). So yeah, that had a little impact too

6. How different was it between touring with Indigo girls and touring with Justin Timberlake?

The funny thing is, they actually weren't that different. Touring is glorified, especially when you're an opener because you're on stage for 30-45 minutes and then you've got 23+ hours where you have to figure out how to exist in a strange place where you have no identifiable locators. So, of course, those 30-45 minutes were dramatically different between the Indigo Girls and JT (although, being an opener does have some through line in that the audience is ABSOLUTELY not there to see you) but then the rest of it was remarkably the same. You find where catering is, you do all kinds of dumb shit in your green room, you pile into vans where the AC is broken and there are some warm cans of beer tucked behind the seat-back, you share the same hotel rooms where, somehow, the AC is also broken, the miles go by out the window, you watch San Andreas which is great and terrible, continental breakfast, someone shows up late to soundcheck, you argue about the setlist - your entire existence is a setup for that 30-45 minutes of pure presence and the whole thing is abundantly worth it. Did I answer your question? Not sure.

Listen to "The Shadowboxers" on our playlists "just groove, don't dance" and "one POPsicle please" :

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