American musician George Lewis Jr., who performs under the stage name Twin Shadow, has found an unlikely combination in danceable beats and intimate narratives. His 2012 album, “Confess” (4AD), contrasts bright pop melodies with moody themes and husky vocals.
This spring, Lewis embarks on Twin Shadow’s “True Story” tour across the U.S. and Canada. At each stop along the way, either Lewis or his father will share a different personal anecdote. By incorporating this oral form of storytelling into his musical performance, Lewis attempts to explore how his father’s stories shaped his own writing.
Last May, prior to the July-release of “Confess,” Lewis sat down with AudioFile in New York City’s Bryant Park to ruminate on not just his source of inspiration but also a self-admitted obsession—motorcycles. The name Twin Shadow carries dual meanings—Lewis is, in fact, a twin (he shares his birthday with a sister)—and, at the same time, invokes the imagery of a twin engine. Lewis directly attributes the genesis of his latest work to an experience tied to riding:
“I had an accident a long time ago, and I was just thinking about it a lot while making this record. You know, kind of like how glad I am to be around. I’m still doing the dangerous thing of riding the motorcycle, but I’m just more conscious about everything in my life, and how kind of wonderful it is to be around.”
Love of the inherently risky hobby eventually led him to pen a novel, “Night of the Silver Sun,” which he describes as a “motorcycle gang fantasy.” He then brought the action-adventure to life in the music video for the album’s first single, “Five Seconds”:
The two-part saga concludes in Twin Shadow’s newest video, “Patient.”
Despite his outward “Rebel Without a Cause”-appearance and lonesome musical tendencies—”I’m not a big fan of being in a band,” Lewis said—he can boast of a successful collaboration with keyboardist Wynne Bennett on “Confess.” He succinctly summed up their process: “We fought a lot, and worked it out.”
A self-taught saxophone-player at the age of 13, Lewis soon branched out to other instruments, namely guitar and piano. He added, “I kind of know how to play the bassoon, actually, which I could go on some weird talent show for that probably.”
Since childhood, Lewis has called a variety of diverse locales home—from the Dominican Republic, where he was born, to Florida, where he grew up, and from Brooklyn, where he sometimes resides, to Berlin, where he often visits. Of his restless lifestyle, Lewis reflected:
“I’m a nomad whether I like it or not, by the nature of my business. I have to travel to do what I do. So I am, and that’s good, too. I’m not sure if me as a human being is a nomadic person or not.”
Yet, amid his worldly travels, Lewis said he makes it a point to stop and visit family. Family, as he has revealed, influenced the many creative aspects of his life, including fashion. He credits his mother for raising his sartorial consciousness at a young age:
“My mom always looked like a million bucks before she left the house. That was like a pretty big deal for her. And I think I recognized that really early. When we got dressed up for church, we really got dressed up—to the nines, you know.”
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