Shy Girls — Songs About People, Not Pronouns
Shy Girls is the product of Portland based artist Dan Vidmar. Shy Girls’ music occupies the musical sensibilities that have attracted artists from Drake to Purity Ring; slightly electronic, mellow, mood-based, beat-driven personal songs. It is music that that resides in the space of the mind at 2 am, the wind down, the ride from or to someone you like a little or a lot; songs that deal with connection (or lack of), observations about a place in the world, a need to seek and sort out authenticity, musings inspired by heartbreaks and hangovers.
Vidmar came upon the sound naturally. “I used to play in a lot of rock bands, just like play covers and rock and roll music in high school, I listened to a lot of radio as a kid and then I was into more experimental and indie music in college-sort of had this sort of long runway approach to where I am now, and I guess it was when I moved to Portland about 5 years ago that I started dabbling with sort of my version of electronic pop music, because I just had a laptop, you know Logic and Ableton, just dabbling in that world, and I was listening to a lot of soft rock from 80s, and stuff like that was bustling at the time and just started finding my voice through that process. The songs are kind of guided by my voice in a lot of ways, so, letting my voice and go and do its thing and not overproducing.”
Shy Girls gained a lot of attention for the electronic rhythm based seductive sounds in their music, songs like “Still Not Falling” and “Under Attack” started gaining traction, and Shy Girls began opening shows for artists from HAIM to Maxwell. And while there was definitely a strong lean to melody, the music was still slightly different, employing texture and moods that were not relegated to the garden variety pop song. Songs that dealt in building and crumbling relationships took a more humanistic approach — sexual but not gauche — intimacy was more of an extension of a relationship than a conquest, vulnerability was shown in the pursuit and dissolve of a union; these were songs about people, not pronouns.
“Honestly I’m not intentionally trying to ‘culturally’ change the way that people write music or anything, it’s mostly my personality and humility, and like I said I grew up listening to a lot of rock and folk music and stuff like that and Joni Mitchell and people who have a lot of humility in their writing, and that’s probably where a lot of that comes from.”
Going to a show in this day, it is not uncommon to see a performer with only a laptop and a DJ as opposed to a full band, a configuration once confined to hip hop. But as a lot of music is sort of made in the way that hip hop is made, with programs and sampled sounds, the only way to seemingly reproduce that live is just to play the track and mix and accent from the laptop, which is understandable, but rarely entertaining. Though Shy Girls music implores many of these same methods, Vidmar prefers to play as a band, reproducing and replaying the possible elements with a band.
“I think that people see that so often, where someone comes with a laptop and plugs it in and sings, which is totally cool, I know a lot of people that do that and pull it off really well, I just decided that I wanted to have the live experience a little bit different and try to set things apart in some ways…I ‘ll tell you it is difficult, it’s one of the harder things, figuring out how to translate things live, it can be a lot of fun, and I am lucky enough to have a band that travels with me, so I’m not just playing everything on a laptop, etc., it’s fun to recontextualize things for the live setting and add a little bit more guitar, we have a lot of guitar now in the live setup, and have everything be, fairly, like a regular band, but it is difficult, and I’m still trying to figure it out to be honest.”
SHY GIRLS PLAYS FITZGERALD’S THURSDAY MAY 14th