From Denver’s folklore filled Barnum neighborhood of circus fame, comes A Shoreline Dream. They are Ryan Policky on vocals, guitar, keys, bass and programming and Erik Jeffries on guitar. There’s no clowning around with this class act however, as they are more like an exquisite up high on the ropes trapeze performance that gracefully glides through the air, always on the hinges of danger. Their shimmering reflective melodies of psychedelic rock meets shoegaze along with their hauntingly dreamy vocals brings me back to the early days of Cocteau Twins, The Cure and The Dream Academy.
A Shoreline Dream’s latest release ‘Room For The Others’ is the fourth track from their ever-evolving new album, with each being released digitally as stand-alone singles, one at a time. It’s accompanied by a whimsical and darkly painted video directed by Latenight Weeknight and shot and edited by Ryan Policky.
Torched Magazine is pleased to have had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan and Erik of A Shoreline Dream for an in-depth interview to talk about their latest single ‘Room For The Others’, taking it back to their beginnings and the evolution of their music, and what it was like working with Producer Ulrich Schnauss….plus more!
TM – Hi Ryan and Erik – Please tell us about your music making process and the inspiration for your latest single ‘Room For The Others’ and the accompanying video.
Ryan – The track is about change and about the concept of dealing with being different in a society based on “social norms”. Especially these days, people are so heavily focused on what our leadership says and does, and that leadership is based on pointing out flaws in people rather than acceptance. The song is a rallying cry to do whatever you want regardless of all the criticism. Forget about what other people think of you. That’s where the video came into play. It’s almost a literal interpretation of that concept. The Scissor Sweethearts were the perfect visual to the idea behind it all. They are true performers, and truly a sight to behold. Musically this track was one of my most recent favorites to put together, and loved the collaboration Erik and myself had on its structure and tone. I spent many nights fine tuning the overall sound and vocal layering. It reminded me of the early days of our production. It took some time, but we really love the way it turned out!
Erik Room For The Others was a great track to work on. Ryan had a really solid idea on how he wanted to approach this song and it left a lot of space for adding in different textures and sounds. For me there was less focus on being technical. Instead I focused on the feel of a track. The more we worked on the track the more I found myself trying different ways to introduce sounds. I really wanted to create tension with the backing guitar parts. I feel that the video captures that same tension. It looks at expectancies and perceptions on social norms and exposes the reality of society and acceptance. The Scissor Sweethearts were fantastic and perfect for the video and Ryan did an amazing job putting it all together.
TM – It’s been 10 years since your debut release, when and where did it all start for you?
Ryan – It started after a renewed interest in working together from our previous bands. Erik, Gabe and myself were in a goth inspired band called Pure Drama, and Gabe and myself went on to do Drop the Fear. It was after that one dissolved that we all started jamming together again. In 2005 it became official and we started recording our sessions. Those sessions literally became what “Avoiding the Consequences” was. We loved it so much that I took out a loan and we started our own label to support it. And here we are today, still helming A Shoreline Dream, and still loving every minute of it.
Erik – It started for me by reconnecting with Ryan and our original drummer Gabe Ratliff. While I had worked with them in the past they were exploring new sounds and ideas that completely blew me away. We started jamming on ideas and developing and recording these sessions. As Ryan stated those ideas and recordings are literally what led to “Avoiding the Consequences” and our first album as A Shoreline Dream. From there we started to play more shows around our region and eventually hit the road and started playing with bands like Innaway, Chapterhouse and Ulrich Schnaus.
TM – How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Ryan – Our music has evolved along with our lives in so many ways, but it all seems to work cohesively together somehow, even with all the changes that have taken place throughout our history. I think most of that is due to the consistent production technique we’ve taken through it all. We’ve gone all electronic at times, especially during our Ulrich collaborative years, and sometimes we’ve gone pure acoustic, yet compositionally you can always somehow tell it’s still us. Each song begins in its own way based on what’s happening in our lives and even based on what season it is. Just happy that people have found that reason to come back and listen as we learn more about ourselves and the way we put these songs together.
Erik – The evolution of our music, is as Ryan stated, a reflection of our lives and what is going on around us. The challenges and opportunities that I was faced with 10 years ago are different than the ones today. However, when we get together those things continue to morph into the phrases and progressions that comprise our music. Songs such as “The Night Before” was a piece Ryan and I literally put together the night before my second son was born. It is an acoustic track which was different from what we were doing. “Love Is Not For The Faint At Heart” was captured during a difficult time and “Seattle” was written in a hotel while touring on the west coast. There are endless examples from our recordings. The way we address the world around us is through our music. I think that has been a constant. Ryan has also kept an approach to production, and his attention to detail, has helped maintain our sound while still allowing us to explore.
TM – Are your lyrics generic or based on real experiences? Please tell us some stories about this?
Ryan – The lyrics have always been based on experiences we’re having, or social experiences we are collectively having. Some are very personal, with instances like “hypermode” being about complete heartache of friends/lovers who have been lost. Others like “Whirlwind” are centered on a concept of personal tragedy mixed with social motivation to make things better for the future. I try and steer from literal messaging, but the idea is to relate to others who may be experiencing similar vibes during different times of their lives. We’re all human. We all have similar things happening to us. I’m trying to not be self-centered, while still trying to release those painful memories that can only be released through music. Music and the lyrics used within that music has always been my therapist.
Erik – Lyrics are completely in Ryan’s court. As a band we have talked about ideas and themes around each song but Ryan focuses on the lyrics. It’s pretty crazy watching and listening to our ideas evolve and how Ryan approaches lyrics and vocals.
TM – Who or what are some of your creative influences?
Ryan – I am a huge fan of Dali, Cronenberg, Lynch, Dario Argento and most surrealists. I love the imagination of creating places that truly are not possible in reality, but still so close to being just that. I love taking something everyday and natural and distorting it into something other worldy. Those who can do that successfully will always be my biggest inspirations for my craft. It takes guts to make things that aren’t real, feel completely visible or audible to everyone.
Erik – To be honest I am blown away on the different art media and mediums that are being introduced. I will always draw heavily from different styles of music. Like most of us I have a broad base of interests and influences. Anything from amazing interactive art pieces such as Alexander Perrin’s Interactive Illustration ‘Short Trip’ to Paper Textured Editorial Illustrations by Eiko Ojala. There is a site of curated content titled thisiscolossul.com that is an amazing source of inspiration and influence.
TM – What kind of advice would you give to a newer musician who is just starting out? Have you been getting the word out about your music?
Ryan – The reality newer musicians need to take to heart is the fact that you must always believe in what you are making. You must take a risk on your own art and not let time go by waiting for someone to jump in and fund it. Either way it’s difficult selling any artform, but only until you feel it is worth sharing with everyone, keep refining it and making it exactly that. Sometimes it takes a decade to really find your sound. Love what you’re doing before jumping into the fray of music business madness. We formed a label to make it happen once we felt we had done just that, and we even said no to some rather large labels to keep the spirit of what we are. You can do the same. Anyone can if they believe in their creation more than anything else 🙂
Erik – The advice that I would offer to a newer musician is to be passionate about your ideas, enjoy every minute of what you are doing and plan to work very hard. It is a lot of work and takes a lot of dedication by everyone involved. It also takes help including promotion. Fortunately, now we are working with someone who is very good at that (thank you Shameless Promotion PR). You have to get some help to get in front of the right people that are into the things you are doing.
TM – What was it like working with Ulrich Schnauss?
Ryan – Ulrich is an amazingly creative force who I felt so comfortable being around and producing with. Those years of experimenting with melding our sounds were some of my favorite times in my life, as it all felt like some dreamy haze where we escaped from this blinding light with songs that define a lifetime of musical desires. Some of my favorite tracks are the ones we created together. “Departure” and “neverchanger” in particular are so gorgeous, and I can’t believe they have our name attached. Then toss in the experience of a lifetime of going to Ulrichs home studio to work on the track “London” with him over the course of a week and you can say I am now ready to die a happy man.
Erik – The best part of working with Ulrich was touring with him and playing shows. At first it was pretty intense taking what him and Ryan had nailed down in the studio to playing live. However, it really came together quickly and morphed into something that was the highlight of our set. Those are still some of the most amazing parts of our earlier touring.
TM – Are there any current bands you’ve been enjoying that you can recommend us for our own playlists?
Ryan- I can’t stop listening to the track “sugarfix” by Tamaryn and “Dot in the Sky” by Drab Majesty (Which might be my favorite song right now). I’d also highly recommend tr/st for those not in the know, or just about anything by Mew, who have always been one of my favorites throughout the years.
Erik – The most recent would be ‘LCD’ from Ummagma, but to be honest I am in a huge retro phase and kinda grooving on some of the classics ranging from Beach House to Dead Meadow. I tend to stream DKFM and am constantly going back and digging up old tracks and albums that I listened to before.
TM – Is there anything else that you would like to share that I may have missed?
Ryan – Keep your eyes out for more singles, including a new one we’re finishing up now. We will continue to be releasing the album as we make it digitally, with a vinyl only release at the very end! Excited for that as it will truly finish a chapter I’ve personally never completed… that of making an actual record.
Erik – Just repeating what Ryan said. A new single is getting mixed and mastered. Looking forward to the full album.