Twin Shadow premiered the video for "Five Seconds," the first single off second album "Confess," in the biggest way possible - on a billboard in the middle of Times Square.
On June 20, art promotion company Artists Wanted took over the most famous intersection in New York, filling its historic billboards with different art and videos, including the Twin Shadows clip. As for the artist himself, Twin Shadow (aka George Lewis Jr.) was unaware of his video's premiere. Not that he didn't care; his mind simply focused on the art, not its delivery. "Sometimes you just say 'yes' and don't ask questions," he says.
Lewis' team at 4AD has worked to ensure he says "yes" to the right things leading up to the July 10 release of "Confess." The tactic has been to give fans just a taste of the new set by concentrating on a solitary song. While many acts release track after track leading up to a new album, "we've had all this success from literally putting one song out there," 4AD's U.S. GM Nabil Ayers says. "Radio picked it up. It went to No. 1 on [blog] Hype Machine. All the good things we wanted to happen, happened right away."
When Lewis released his Twin Shadow debut, 2010's "Forget," the album was a redemptive move. In the early 2000s, he'd sung for Boston punk band Mad Man Films. When that chapter closed, a new location beckoned. "I provoked a bunch of people who were really bored with Boston to move to New York together," he says. "But when you move to a new place with your old friends, it's just not the same anymore."
His new life didn't click, and by the time he moved to Berlin, he had all but given up on music. "I was almost looking down on it," Lewis says. "I was lost in a bad way."
However, an informal meeting with an online admirer, Eddie Bezalel, changed everything. "He'd heard a few songs on my Myspace page and wanted to help me make music," Lewis recalls. "So I lied and said I had a bunch of songs." Bezalel became his manager.
Lewis returned to New York that week, wrote all new music and recruited some musician friends for what he now calls "a disaster," noting that he "just pissed away a bunch of money and time." Out of the experience came a new identity, however, and Twin Shadow was born.
He set to work by himself on "Forget," a dark, shadowy collection of pop songs made with just the production help of Chris Taylor, bassist for Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear. Finally, Lewis found his niche. The record was an indie hit.
To create "Confess," Lewis went to Los Angeles, where he joined with keyboardist Wynne Bennett at a proper studio. Twin Shadow was no longer a bedroom pop project. Largely inspired by long, fast rides on his motorcycle, "Confess" is a more aggressive and upbeat record than "Forget," which has sold 24,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It sounds brighter while maintaining Twin Shadow's dark edge. Despite the more accessible sound, Ayers is optimistic it won't "jilt the fan base. We don't want to remove him completely from his world."
Still, the hope is to push Twin Shadow past "indie pop sensation."
"There's a difference between playing [New York club] Piano's and playing on 'Good Morning America,'" Ayers says. "We don't want to take any shortcuts."••••