INTERVIEW: Living in Shadows | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Four years in the making, duo Living In Shadows, consisting of vocalist Zoe Gilby and multi-instrumentalist Andy Champion, are eager to share their fresh sound and self-titled LP beyond the jazz scene. Both are accomplished in their own right, but as a couple it seemed an appealing path to investigate. “We’ve worked together since 2008 but started writing a few years later. It’s intense to be married and to create music, but it works!” Zoe discloses.

Jazz music is a beloved part of their repertoire, but the opportunity to welcome and incorporate other genres was attractive. “We listen to lots of 70s and 80s pop and rock. It’s natural for us to write music that mightn’t fall under the jazz umbrella.”

“Living in the Shadows started because Zoe had some ideas that weren’t as jazz as the stuff we had done before. It became a studio-based project, allowing us to use different instrumentation and multi-tracked vocals.” Andy adds.

The award-winning singer does not ordinarily write autobiographically. Inspired by books, films and landscapes, she goes on to reveal the origins of a few tracks. “For The Day came about when I noticed a flock of birds migrating south for the winter; Try To Take It Twice was from an emotional conversation with a victim of domestic violence; the novel Alone In Berlin inspired Postcards. Different topics, but all about change and moving forward. I’m proud of Try To Take It Twice. It’s a good indication of what was rattling around our heads when we made the album.” Andy continues: “Smoke & Mirrors is the longest track and has lots of sections and changing moods. I drew on my prog influences on that one, which was a lot of fun.”

We listen to lots of 70s and 80s pop and rock. It’s natural for us to write music that mightn’t fall under the jazz umbrella

The resounding quality of the new LP is clear to hear. Zoe reveals: “Andy produced the record. We basically built a home studio as we made the album. We’ve worked with Paul Edis [piano] and Mark Williams [guitar] for years; they’re the core of the band.” Andy reminisces further: “Mark was involved from the start, and he’s an essential part of the project. Paul brings the jazz into the mix. His approach to chord voicings and phrasing sets the album apart. It was great to have Graeme Wilson [saxophone], Emma Fisk [violin] George Milburn [mandolin] adding a different dimension to the album.”

It’s tricky to pin down the style of each song. Uncommon and effortless, the jazz essence readily runs throughout. Andy jokes about the varying influences pals have heard:

“One of our mates said, ‘it’s like Kate Bush meets Steely Dan.’ We absolutely love Kate Bush; she’s a massive influence. Can’t say the same for Steely Dan!”

“It’s hard to sum up our sound. I suppose it’s a bit alt-pop-jazz-prog! If anyone has a more succinct label, please let us know!” Zoe requests.

Living In Shadows release their self-titled debut album on 4th December

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