“The Internet has made us conservative”Twin Shadow is known for infinitely danceable music and a top-shelf party aesthetic. But that last part might be changing.
Known for his brutally honest lyrics, fondness for partying and synth-powered drama, Twin Shadow is a quintessentially Millennial patchwork quilt of influences. Born George Lewis Jr. to artsy parents in the Dominican Republic, he eventually moved to Brooklyn, where he came up in the punk scene. But he became associated with indie lo-fi acts like Ratatat, Toro y Moi and Dirty Projectors, recording his critically lauded first album, Forget, with producer/ collaborator Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) in 2010.
Then came the alcohol-soaked tours, the 24-hour parties and the occasional wild motorcycle ride (though no more accidents after a big one in 2008). Now on the cusp of releasing his third album, Eclipse, Twin Shadow has established himself as a multi-hyphenate rock star: an impassioned live performer, a studio craftsman able to easily skip the line between digital and analog, and a writer with a novella, The Night of the Silver Sun, to his name. We met him on the rooftop of the Ace hotel in downtown L.A. and talked aging, motorbike riding and gin.
THE RED BULLETIN: What are you riding at the moment?
TWIN SHADOW: A 1972 Triumph Bonneville. It was owned by an old guy in New Jersey who rode it 2,000 miles and then left it in a garage for years. I was living in New York at the time, so I bought it and had it shipped to L.A. The bike moved before I did. Riding’s always been a part of my 20s lifestyle.
Are you still in your 20s?
I just turned 30. I’m not big on birthday parties. I’m big on other parties.
What’s your favorite drink at parties?
I like gin. I like gimlets, and I like it straight up.
Gin makes me cry.
Yeah, I think there’s something in it that is psychoactive. I’ve never cried drinking gin, but I have definitely caused quite a scene and been kicked out of a few bars.
I think I racked up five physical throw- outs over a period of 10 years.
Why’d they kick you out?
First one was because I decided it would be a good idea to jump on top of the bar and walk across it like a Coyote Ugly girl, knocking over peoples’ drinks. Then recently I got into a fight with a DJ in L.A. I asked him what song he was playing and he said, “Just because you’re Twin Shadow doesn’t mean you can tell me what to play.” I was just asking him about the song, but he kept lashing out, so I had to get into it, and I was kicked out. He was probably drinking gin.
What’s life like on the road with you?
For some reason, I have somewhat of a bad-boy image. So I’m trying not to answer questions like this. But let’s just say that everything you’ve ever heard in any rock ’n’ roll documentary still happens. That’s not to say that I have participated. But the stereotypes exist. Boys are still boys. Girls are still girls. Actually, boys are girls and girls are boys. Either way, life’s exciting. Enjoy it.
Do you think things were crazier for musicians in the ’60s and ’70s?
Back then it was so easy to let your freak flag fly. I think now with the Internet it’s so easy to be humiliated. Like if some nude photos of me came out on the Web, that would suck. When you’re being a freak you gotta be extra private about it.
George Lewis Jr.
His violent biker-gang music video for “Five Seconds,” off of his second album, premiered on giant LED screens in Times Square.
So the Internet has inhibited your freakiness a little?
The Internet has made us strangely more conservative and PC because everyone’s watching their step. Someone says the wrong thing on Twitter and their career disappears overnight. Everyone is tip- toeing, but people still want to have fun and live at the limits of their craziness.
If you could test the limits of your craziness with anyone, who would it be?
I have heard that Elton John parties hard. I would have liked to have partied with him during his “Yellow Brick Road” period. But now? Dave Chappelle. I did get wasted next to him once. I was sitting at the bar at the Bowery Hotel, and I saw Chappelle and Mos Def walk in and I was so starstruck. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder: “Twin Shadow! ‘Golden Light’—that’s my song, that’s my jam.” It was Mos Def. Then he introduced me to David, and it was the coolest thing. Then they got drunk with their friends and I ate sushi and watched. I really wanted to go party with them because they were having a good time. Maybe next time.