Naivety can be a wonderful thing. As music enters an age where it is consistently blurring the lines between art and content, there’s something refreshing about a band who sound so completely bereft of alterior motive and commercial influence. Shimmering Stars are a band who embody this wonderful kind of ignorance, a quartet seemingly frozen in a bygone era and thawed in the choppy waters of today. The kind of music you’d associate with an excellent post-war prom, their tender, dream pop ambience a sort of cool embrace.
Even as hype about them rises, the lack of information about them feels charming – far removed from well planned manoeuvres that WU LYF and others have spent their time orchestrating, but something had to give. With an EP on the way and the crowds of amorous bloggers swelling, band leader Rory typed out a few answers to a few questions about the Shimmer Stars and what they do, what they are in to and what it is like growing up in a town with a population of 7,000.
Shimmering Stars – Atmosphere
Hiya Rory. For those that haven’t come across Shimmering Stars yet, could you tell us a little bit about the band? Who is in it and all that.
Shimmering Stars is a band from British Columbia, Canada. We came together this summer. I’m Rory, I sing and play guitar. Clint Lofkrantz plays guitar, Andrew Dergousoff plays drums and sings, and Felix Fung plays bass and sings. We play late 50s/60s inspired ‘dream-pop’/indie garage pop. We have a 7″ coming out on Almost Musique.
How long have you been recording music for now? And why did you start?
I’ve been recording music since I was 11 or 12. I started recording on a small stereo with a built-in microphone and then graduated to a 4-track many years later. I started recording and playing music because I wanted to be Kurt Cobain. That didn’t really work out, but I kept recording.
There’s a lot of Phil Spector in your sound, as well as other goldeRn-era pop acts like Beach Boys. Was that something you set out for to begin with?
Yes, very consciously. At first I wanted to try to create an Everly Brothers type of sound, but like many people before me, I didn’t come close. So it turned into something else. I think Shimmering Stars takes a lot of inspiration from the late 50s and 60s and that gets channeled through a Pixies/modern indie/lo-fi sound. As for Spector, as soon as you start experimenting with music of that era you run into him. His melodies, songs and arrangements are timeless. We obviously don’t have the resources to do a proper Spector production, but I think you can try to approximate that feeling with the right energy and attention to detail.
What did you listen to growing up? I mainly remember my childhood through the mixtapes of 80’s pop my mum played in the car.
I think Andrew could relate to the 80s mixtapes. I very clearly remember liking New Kids on the Block and MC Hammer. I remember having a Beach Boys tape and an Everly Brothers tape at that same time, but I think those got less play than NKOTB, sadly. My dad played a lot of delta blues while I was growing up, which I’m sure had a damaging effect on my psyche.
And who are your favorite acts that are around at the moment?
It’s embarrassing, but I don’t pay attention to a lot of current music. Let’s see, Wild Nothing is great. I’m really into this new act called Buddy Holly and the Crickets. I like Beach House, The Walkmen. As for Vancouver bands, Clint’s band Manic Attracts is amazing. And Clint and Felix’s other group, Mode Moderne. Lost Lovers Brigade are a great Vancouver band as well.
You’ve got your first vinyl release later in the month, which is an EP. Is there a theme to the songs on there?
There was no effort to have a theme. But thinking about the songs… they’re all about girls in one way or another. But in the Del Shannon kind of way: she got away and then you wrote some sad bastard song about it.
One thing that sets you apart from many of your contemporaries is the fact that your songs are fre of all the fuzz and distortion that you’d associate with lo-fi. what are your views on the whole garage rock, DIY revival?
Good question. I’m partial to the lo-fi sound and I think some of the best records of the last 20 years have come out of that tradition (ie Bee Thousand). And some of the current garage rock, DIY revival has been great. Black Lips released some great records, for example. But it’s turned into a bit of an epidemic in the last five years and the problem isn’t the lo-fi production value but a general lack of creativity/inspiration. A lot of the bands trying to emulate the Black Lips, to use that example again, haven’t done anything particularly interesting or compelling with the style. I think if you’re using the hiss and distortion in a way that complements the song then it’s all good; if you’re using it to cover up your bad songs/singing/playing/lack of creativity then it’s probably a bad thing.
By all accounts, being in a band doesn’t earn very much money. What do you do outside of music?
Very true. I am currently upgrading to become a teacher. Felix owns and operates a recording studio. Andrew… no one knows exactly what Andrew does. And let’s just say Clint is very eager to quit his current job.
You’re from British Columbia. what’s the music scene like around there? And how much would you say it’s influenced what you do now?
There are great musicians and bands here, but generally speaking, it’s rough. In Vancouver a large number of venues have been shut down in the last 5 years. The music scene has suffered. As for the rest of BC, I couldn’t say. Things come and go. Andrew and I grew up in Merritt (population: 7000) and there was a thriving music scene there for many years. That scene really influenced us.
SHOUT OUTS: Wolf Nebula for life! And Benjamin Caschera: Please die slow.