Like Krispy Cream and Pepsi Cola, Shadowgraphs formed just east of the Appalachian Mountains amongst the Longleaf Pines of North Carolina. Founded in 2014 by Wils Glade and Bryan Olsen, the two wrote, recorded, and released two full length albums by summer 2017.
While listening to these first records, it became clear that the two had shared a focused vision since the beginning. Their music is almost reminiscent of a Robert Beatty album cover, an alluring landscape where layers upon layers of warm and rich textures are waiting to be discovered beneath the surface.
Last year the duo released their third LP titled ‘Another Time’ and headed west on a 3,000 mile journey to Oregon. I caught up with founding member Wils Glade to talk about it all.
“Channel the past, become one with the present, and wink at the future.”
‘Return to Zero’ (2015)
Can you give me a little history on the formation of Shadowgraphs leading up to this release?
Bryan and I had a mutual friend named Blake who was moving to San Diego and before he left he was like “yall need to meet! you guys are like the same people and into the same things”. I remember when Bryan and I first started hanging out, we were excited that out of everyone we had met we were into the same type music.
For this first record you guys recorded and mixed everything in Bryan’s home studio. Was this a first for you both?
Yeah, it was real trial and error back then. I had never used tape/analog gear, but knew about mixing techniques from my previous band, and Bryan had never really spent too much time mixing, he was more about recording. So it was great for the both of us to learn from each other.
Would you say you guys were more interested in recording techniques at the time over playing the songs out live?
Yeah, actually Bryan was like “I’m too old for playing out” (this was 5 years ago lol) so it was just a recording project at first, but then people kept talking about wanting to see us live, so we eventually slipped into that by adding two members and then officially starting the band.
‘Venomous Blossoms’ (2017)
For this record you guys opted to have someone else do the mixing. What led to this change?
Well on RTZ, we recorded and mixed it ourselfs, but then paid a pretty penny to have it mastered somewhere fancy. The overall change in audio wasn’t that big of a difference from where we had it, other than making it louder, so we thought that the change in audio would be a greater difference in the mixing process. So we decided to give that a try.
How do you see that “extra ear” in the mixing process playing a role in the overall sound that you guys are trying to capture with your recordings?
It was probably the best thing we could have ever done. We were really excited with what Drew had done with the record and it kept us from getting into endless hours of mixing debates. He was really fast and we learned a lot from his process by just observing his workflow in the room with him.
The record release show for this album was the first time I had the pleasure of experiencing your live set. What was the process like for taking this songs from the studio and fleshing them out for a live show?
I think about half of the songs were songs we were playing live already, so we felt more confident with those after recording, but for the new ones there were a lot more things to consider. Like since there were a good amount of keys on the record, I started introducing keys to our live set. Then Bryan and I would figure out the best guitar parts for us to play live even if the other had initially written that part.
This album marked your first release with the label Golden Brown. Can you tell us a little about how this relationship came to be?
Yeah, we were actually about to put out VB by ourselves with a PR company called Parachute form Portland, OR, who had reached out to us. The head guy started pitching out the record and then said that he actually has a good friend with a label who would probably be really into the record and could put it out with a bigger PR budget and vinyl. That’s when we met Thom & Brooke Sunderland of Golden Brown Records.
‘Another Time’ (2018)
It appears a lot has changed for you guys since the last record. Most notably, you uprooted from Charlotte, NC and made the trek to Portland, OR. What factors influenced and or inspired you to make the move?
Bryan and I had been looking for a new city to move to when we realized we wanted to start playing shows in a city more often without having to worry about playing to the same people every time. When we were on tour for a month, we fell in love with Portland.
Any magical happenings on the journey west?
We met a drummer with beautiful hair who might be Fonzi from Happy Days and he has been the mot magical thing in the band since sliced bread.
I’ve never been to Portland but I imagine it being quite a different place than Charlotte. Growing up in Charlotte I witnessed some amazing shows but I always struggled to find root in the music and art scene. Any thoughts on this?
Charlotte has an amazing music scene, but Portland is more dedicated to their art and music scene, so you run into a lot more opportunity.
Was Charlotte ever limiting in anyways for the project?
I think Charlotte was perfect for the project, but we didn’t want to play too much in town to the point where people got sick of seeing us live, so we felt like we needed to move to a bigger city.
Before relocating you had the two musicians that played live with the band for a few years correct? Was there ever talk of everyone making the move?
Oh yeah, but Ethan, our bass player, has an awesome job at Muzac and plays in a couple other bands in town, so it didn’t make sense for him to move out if we weren’t making a decent amount of money off of the band. Shaun, Bryan’s older brother, stayed at first, but recently moved out to Portland to join us again.
Did you have people in mind to fill those spots before moving to Portland?
Only a bass player at first, which was Bryan’s younger brother, and went on tour with us last summer.
How have the west coast shows been so far? Do you feel you music is received any differently?
We feel like people are more into the type of music we play. Charlotte always had a great response, but surrounding cities were always iffy.
Let’s talk a little about the songs on the new record. How much material had you written before the move compared to new ideas that took shape in Oregon?
We finished the record before the move, but Bryan did lyrics for four of the songs after he moved out to Portland alone. Actually, the song “Neighbors” went through a complete transformation in Portland right before we mixed.
Has the writing process changed in anyway?
I’d say, on this record, it was a little more streamlined since we were recording digital, but it was a lot more piecemealed since Bryan and I weren’t always in the studio together.
The title of the new record is ‘Another Time’. Can you talk a little about any major themes or concepts behind the title and the songs contained within?
The title just has to do with our big move and recording/writing this whole record in piece meal and different locations.
Any music, events, paintings, foods, textures, etc. that you can recall having a conscious influence on the new record?
There are too many to cover. We love all types of music and art and constantly find ourselves in different phases.
How have you guys been with all the wild fires taking place? Have these events shaped your writing in anyway?
Its pretty crazy during “the fire season.” It looks and feels like you’re on a planet in Star Wars when it happens, so I’m sure it will influence a couple new songs in the future…
Did Bryan’s home studio make the trip?
For the most part, mainly his outboard gear and mics along with some of my own mics and outboard gear. Another Time was primarily recorded in Charlotte, NC. All of the drums and some other instruments were tracked in Bryan’s old studio, parts in my house, and then most of Bryan’s vocal takes out in Portland, OR. This time around we didn’t record to tape, so we had more flexibility with utilizing more tracks for things like multiple synths and vocal harmonies. We love tape and the process of tape, but since we hand done an LP on a 2″ 24 track for the last release, we wanted to still use analog gear but not limit ourselves to ideation. The recording process was a lot faster, and we spent a lot more time tracking vocals and harmonies. But because there were about twice as many tracks on each song, when we mixed in Athens with Drew Vandenberg, the process was a little longer.
What was the process like for this new record? (recording / mixing / mastering)
Another Time was primarily recorded in Charlotte, NC. All of the drums and some other instruments were tracked in Bryan’s old studio, parts in my house, and then most of Bryan’s vocal takes out in Portland, OR. This time around we didn’t record to tape, so we had more flexibility with utilizing more tracks for things like multiple synths and vocal harmonies. We love tape and the process of tape, but since we had done an LP on a 2” 24 track for the last release, we wanted to still use analog gear but not limit ourselves to ideation. The recording process was a lot faster, and we spent a lot more time tracking vocals and harmonies. But because there were about twice as many tracks on each song, when we mixed in Athens with Drew Vandenberg, the process was a little longer.
You guys are keen on using some vintage and unique gear to get nail down that oh so sweet sound. Can you tell us a little about your current studio setup and some of your favorite gear used to make this record?
We used the U67 a bunch running it into a Langevin pre which sounds super creamy and big. We also loved using this old dbx sub harmonic synthesizer on the kick drum to add more “umpf”. And we also added in some sub bass synth, below the bassline, to a couple tracks which we hadn’t done before.
While it’s probably never been easier to record at home, most bands I know still flesh out songs before taking them into the studio for for someone else to record them. How does having your own studio, with the potential to record at any time change / shape your writing process?
It’s awesome and really great, the only downside is you don’t really have any deadline, other then when you are going to mix in the studio, so you can kinda go a little nuts and it can be hard to decide when something is done.
Do you guys ever feel overwhelmed with choices / too many options when being on both ends of the recording process?
Definitely, especially when you are recording in a comfortable environment with no time limit.
Do you see yourselves forever doing the recordings?
I don’t know. I think we’ll still keep doing them, at least for demos, but are always down to switch it up and have talked about working with someone to record and mix for a record. We want to try out everything.
Tell us all the secrets behind the album art !?!
Haha, well the devils are us and we are ready to take over the world.
You guys have a very tuned in sound that is only made more realized by your overall focused aesthetic. From your wardrobe selection to your social media postings, can you talk a little about the influences and thoughts that inform this uniformed vision?
We enjoy bands that kind of escape from their day to day life and put on more of a show when it comes to live sets. Like Allah Las, Of Montreal, Temples, etc.. So we are all for having our music be apart of an art aesthetic that carries into our social media postings and clothes.
Can we expect a full U.S. tour at any point?
Possibly next Fall, but we will see how this spring turns out!
What is the verdict on that recent Nicolas Cage movie?
Dude, it’s soooo good. The aesthetic of the movie, not Nicolas Cage. But then again Nicolas Cage is kind of a piece of art…
Bryan Olsen (Left) & Wils Glade (Right Reading Book)
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