Jammerzine has an exclusive interview with Alexander Sheppard from Pageant Boys. In this interview we talk with Alexander about the new single ‘Past Life’, releasing today. The track transcends genres and build upon that smooth mix of soul and electronica for a slow burn of a track that will stick in your memory.
In this interview, we talk with Alexander about ‘Past Life’ as well as future plans. Enjoy!
Eclectic genre-blending artist-producer Pageant Boys releases ‘Past Life’ – the second single from his upcoming where he gets honest about heartbreak, the fallout of a failed relationship and the relatable emotions that follow.
Dreamy guitar, haunting percussion and hypnotic vocal layers blossom into whimsical synths and bass groove for an electronic pop sound reminiscent of James Blake, Rhye, kerri and TENDER.
For many musicians, the hardest challenge to overcome is finishing a song or an album. Reaching the point where there are no more choices. For Alexander Sheppard, the restless spirit behind Pageant Boys, songwriting is ultimately a decision-making process. And to create his newest work, Haunted, those decisions took nearly ten years.
Since leaving his small hometown in Kansas, Sheppard has lived in Istanbul, toured in Europe, and ultimately settled in Kansas City. As he has moved through the world, he has honed his skills writing and recording on his own—and it’s paid off. Sheppard struck a licensing deal with a publishing company, which has placed his music in a number of European TV shows, his songs have garnered over one million streams across all streaming services, and he was signed to the Kansas City-based label, The Record Machine.
Recalling his small-town days, Sheppard says, “There weren’t many people that had specialized skills in music or production. So, I had to learn how to play, produce, record, mix, and master” It’s this drive towards self-reliance that makes Pageant Boys, and the whole of Sheppard’s output, truly singular.
When asked about influences, Sheppard replied “The short answer is everything.” Though you can certainly hear hints of contemporary artists and genres in Haunted; there are biblical, mythological, and literary references throughout the album.
Just as Sheppard’s creation process is solipsistic, the songs on Haunted feel lonely and isolated. When talking about the album, Sheppard says, “There’s a resignation to the truism, that ‘wherever you go, there you are.’” In the US, musical style and genre is too often tied to what coast you call home. We talk endlessly about that West Coast sound, or East Coast punk. Sheppard is content to separate personality from location, making his songs defy categorization.
Haunted blurs the lines between soundscapes and pop songs. Sheppard knows how to write a melody, and places those melodies often over unsettling, sometimes Lynchian atmospheres. Moments of the record feel like they were lifted from a sci-fi film. Others feel intimate, like he’s speaking to us directly.
The Sisyphean task of Haunted was marrying what Sheppard envisioned with what was coming out of the speakers. He says, “The problem I encountered in the writing and recording process was never writer’s block. The album was in a finished state for years, but I was unsatisfied with it.” We know these stories all too well–of artists obsessing over minutiae but for fans of Pageant Boys, Haunted is well worth the wait.
If Sheppard can teach modern writers and musicians one thing, it’s to find some freedom in the process. Too often, bands feel compelled to focus on the album cycle; writing, recording, then releasing. Sheppard created a record he knows he is satisfied with not through deadlines and a tight schedule, but by leaning into what could be possible. What if you waited another year to release a song? What if you took your time and dissected your song from every angle? Pageant Boys’ Haunted invites us to slow down, and to take joy in the endless decisions that a project presents to its creator.
SOURCE: Official Bio
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