Back in 2013, certain parts of the music blogosphere were dominated by the sound of PBR&B. Dan Vidmar was a huge part of the saturated subgenre with his Shy Girls project. While his beloved Timeshare EP set the bar high for other acts to follow, Vidmar made sure not to trap himself within the confines of critic-driven categorization. For the 4wz mixtape, Vidmar collaborated with artists like Junglepussy, Rome Fortune, and Tei Shi at a time when they were relatively unknown to the mainstream.
Last year, Shy Girls officially dropped his debut album Salt. Since then, he’s mostly been off the grid, but today he finally returns with a new single called “Hallelujah” and we’re premiering the accompanying visual. Vidmar elaborated on the intent behind the soulful tune in an email.
“This song is a reimagining of a tune I wrote about six years ago so there’s a nostalgia attached to it for me,” he said. “There are moments for all of us, I think, when we kind of break through the aimless recurring cycles of life and have moments of clarity. I was experiencing one of those when I wrote the song six years ago and again when it popped back into me this past year, and that’s in a sense what the song itself is about.”
While you stream the song in full, scroll down for our exclusive interview with Shy Girls.
What’s been going on in your life since the last album, Salt came out?
I lose track of time, but I’ve been mostly working on a bunch of projects with other people, kind of just producing and writing for other artists. I’ve since moved to Los Angeles, so I’m spending a lot of my time just absorbing the scene down here, which is a big difference, a big change, from Portland. I spent a long time working on new material that will eventually surface.
What kind of direction are you steering yourself in with the new material? How is it a departure from Salt or your previous works?
I think I’m always trying to do something new. I’m a bit of a contrarian, in that sense, I guess. I think that new material feels, to me, like I’m rebelling against the previous material, against the last album, a little bit. That may not be as obvious to everyone, but I think, the last album, it was about exploring loss, the loss of my youth, and they were very pastoral themes. I think the new stuff that I’ve been working on is much more about groove than rhythm and buoyancy, and freshness.
How do you keep your creativity fresh?
It’s hard. Some people, I think it’s very easy for them, and they are just constantly on, those people where they’re just always on 10, always at an elevated level. For me, I require time in between these serious bouts of being inspired and writing. I’ll do that, and I’ll purge myself of all this inspiration, and then I need time to reboot, which I think is part of the reason why I try to step away after I release an album tour, step away for a while, and kind of figure out my next move, in a sense. During that time, I usually don’t listen to a whole lot of music and I don’t work on my music at all. That kind of allows me to reboot. Usually, over time, I’ll come back to it, and all of a sudden I’ll find that inspiration again, but it’s not easy.
In the past, you’ve worked with some of my favorite artists, including Junglepussy, Rome Fortune and Young Thug. Can we expect to hear any other collaborations like that in the future? Is there anyone that you’ve been working with that you can talk about?
That’s a good question. I feel like there’s not a whole lot that I can talk about at this point, but I’m always trying to get cool features. I’m always trying to collaborate with whoever is down to collaborate with me. That’s part of the exciting part of living in LA, is it’s a lot easier to do that stuff. Between here and New York, which I’m there somewhat often, it’s just a whole lot easier to organically collaborate with people. In the short-term, nothing that I can talk about yet, no.
You’ve already put out so many projects, but you’re still doing a lot of the things yourself… Why did you decide that you weren’t going to just hand things off to other people?
I mean, I’ve tried doing that in the past. It never works out the way I want it. Maybe I’m a control freak in that sense, but I don’t know. First of all, I just really like being involved in every aspect of my career. I wanna know how cinematography works so that I can shoot the best music video. I wanna know how stage design works so that I can plan the best tour. I wanna be booking the hotels on the tour, because I know what I like. I like to be involved in every little thing, and I’ve always been like that. Also, it’s very expensive to hire people to do things the right way. I find that, when I do things my way, at least I can sleep at night knowing, if I fail, it’s because it was my fault, and it wasn’t ’cause I spent a ton of money trying to hire other people to see my vision.
When I first came across your music in 2013, I was also discovering Rhye, How to Dress Well, and Wet. Everyone labeled all of you as PBR&B with the notion of it being a passing trend, but all of you have managed to transcend and prove that this wasn’t a phase. You’re making music that’s meant to last and continues to evolve.
I hope so, that’s very nice of you to say. A lot of those people you mentioned, we all were doing this thing that people were labeling as PBR&B, but really we were doing things that were all very different from one another, and we were also doing things that didn’t necessarily fit into a super trendy window. I think it was easy, maybe, four or five years ago, when a lot of things started to sound like maybe they were in the same universe, to label it as just a passing trend, but, really, all those people you named are extremely creative, thoughtful people, and they’re not trend followers. I hope that I’m not a trend follower either. In that sense, I think all of those people will be making music for years to come. Hopefully, I am too. Relevant music, I should say.
As an artist, what motivates you to just keep creating and what kind of an impression are you hoping to make?
I think I’m motivated to keep creating because I don’t really know what else I would do. Even if I went back to school and became a doctor, which I almost did at one point, I would still be creating on the side. The fact that it’s my full-time job is amazing, and such a blessing, but I would still be doing it no matter what. I think there’s some inherent motivation that I can’t really explain, that has very little to do with the outside world or how people perceive me. As far as the impression… It’s a good question. I don’t know. I guess, I hope that people just understand my music for what it is, and that’s just an authentic, very real take on how I see the world. There’s no lens skewing how I’m trying to present stuff. I’m not trying to make something that’s super commercial. I’m not trying to make anything that’s specifically for any certain purpose. I think I’m just trying to make something that I would like to play for my friends and family, and hopefully other people like it.
I also just want to mention that around the time of the 20th anniversary of Sex and the City I immediately thought of your Sex In The City EP… I still love that project.
Incredible. That one is lost in the … I don’t know if it’s even available anywhere anymore… I didn’t go scraping it off the internet, but it just disappeared naturally, which is fine.
For more of our premieres, check out Asukal’s new video for “u alone” right here.