Interview Shy Girls: ‘I Want To Reinforce That Intimacy’

A Portland hospital worker, constantly lovesick and performing under a game-changing R&B guise.

It’s getting a bit silly now, the number of well-dressed romantics with lovely singing voices trying to stand out in a crowd. Guys like Sean Nicholas Savage, Dev Hynes and now Shy Girls; it’s like they’re all serenading up towards the same villa balcony, with the same bouquet of flowers being thrown up to the sky.

Dan Vidmar works in different territory, however. For starters, his characteristically R&B approach swerves away from convention like it’s an instinct. When he’s trying to woo the subject of his song, he’ll do so by adding humour, a little bit of self-damning for good measure. When was the last time a movie protagonist won over their dream girl by singing the line “I’m not an athlete / I sit at home and make beats”?

That’s exactly what he does, so he’s hardly fibbing. Hospital worker by day, beat-maker by night, the recently released ‘Timeshare’ EP is testament to this working environment. In turn, it’s allowed him to stand out in a crowd of cooing crooners.

You work in an emergency room during the day and do your recordings in the evening. Is there no other time for you record?
I’m not a morning person and I can be very focused at night. But I also have weekends and days off when I can record.

Do you think working nocturnally influences your work more?
I guess it might. I find it difficult to wake up and start writing and recording before I’ve had a chance to experience a full day of moving around and communicating and interacting and watching, listening. I just feel more aware at night. I think it’s actually largely biological.

‘Timeshare’ is an unapologetically intimate record. Was that the intention?
Actually, I suppose that was an intention. I have very few expectations and intentions when I start writing, but I think in this case intimacy was a sort of global, conceptual starting point. I used very little reverb and delay on the vocals on this record because I wanted to reinforce that intimacy.

How did you collaboration with Cyril Hahn come about. Can we expect to hear more?
He got in touch with me after he heard ‘Under Attack’ on soundcloud. He just said he was a fan and thought my voice would lend itself well to what he was doing. I was super into the idea and it went from there. I think we work very well together so I wouldn’t be surprised if we did something together again in the future.

How do you feel about the R&B moniker? Does it worry you to be categorised?
Of course. I think it worries any musician to be categorized but the truth is that human beings naturally organize complex things into smaller, more decipherable schema. So I get it. But at the same time, I don’t really like feeding into it. I think I’m a much more dynamic songwriter than just ‘white kid R&B blah blah blah’.

‘Timeshare’ seems to be inspired by yearning - it’s pretty candid in its treatment of love and loss. Would you say they’re introspective?
It’s definitely personal. Some of it is extremely introspective, to the point where certain songs are written from the perspective of a loved one towards me. Like a therapist role reversal exercise or something.

The video for ‘Still Not Falling’ figures you almost like a wallflower. Would you agree? Are you more introverted than extroverted?
Generally speaking, yeah. Especially around people who aren’t good friends of mine. I’m not very good at small talk.

Shy Girls’ ‘Timeshare’ EP is out now.

Taken from the new, free Futurepop issue of DIY Weekly, available to read online or to download on iPad now.

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