INTERVIEW: VANISHING SHORES
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
FLEX favourite Vanishing Shores has just released his debut album 'Maps' which we absolutely love, so much so that we have also decided to interview him about it as well as review it. Listen to Kevin go into detail about what inspired his first LP, as well as everything in between.
For our readers who may not have heard of Vanishing Shores before, could you tell us a little bit about your sound and style?
Vanishing Shores is a band that pursues beauty, wherever it may lead. Our influences are diverse, but we are always drawn to melodic rock and roll. I use the encouragement to take risks from my musical influences and strive make music that is a true reflection of who I am as an individual and a band. Some of the albums on my current playlist are by David Bowie and Deerhunter. However, I think we are best described as a melodic, indie rock band that tends to lean towards a more anthemic songwriting ethos.
How are you feeling now that your new album 'Maps' is out in the world? Is the initial reaction everything you hoped it’d be?
The journey to complete Maps was a very long one, with so many starts and stops that I’ve lost count. I think because of that, just to see it finally released into the wild was such a sense of relief that I have not really focused too much on the overall reaction to it from other sources. To be able to complete and release an album of such personal content, to me, was the primary goal and so any positive attention or reaction after that is just a bonus and blessing. I am, however, deeply thankful for those listeners that have really connected with the songs and who have made them a part of their own journey. That is what elevates the music: The connection to the individual and their moment in time. I think one of the benefits of creating such a personal collection of songs is that it has the ability to play a longer role in the listener’s own life because instead of being innovative in its focus, it reflects on the timeless emotions that we all experience in our own lives. All of us will face loss. While that is not unique, it is new to each one of us when we are confronted with it, so I think these songs could be a long-term companion for the listener. Without being cliché, I think this album will be a slow burn in the best possible sense.
We love to know the origin and history behind artists and band names, what inspired Vanishing Shores?
The idea for the name of Vanishing Shores came from the desire to create music and art that removes the distance between me as an artist and the community of listeners. I envisioned the shores of an island being steadily washed away until it was nothing but ocean. For me, it is a powerful image to think about the things that keep us apart as individuals being slowly and steadily removed until we are all ‘one’ ocean. Although I resist the impulse to try and change people’s thinking to my own, I do want my music to translate the belief that all are accepted on whatever journey or moment the music finds them in. I firmly believe that music has a limitless potential to bring people together and I want to add my voice to that effort and raise the voice of beauty and hope over the all-too-pervasive voices of fear, dislocation, and violence. If love is not truly the answer, where else can we turn?
Could you describe what this album means to you in your own words?
This album for me is a collection of very personal songs. It was inspired by the struggles of my Father-in-Law with Alzheimer’s. But apart from that, it was also my personal conversation with the themes of hope and its place in a world that seems to continually seek out fear and division. Is it possible to still hope and love unconditionally? The very first words on the album are, ‘You’ve been keeping your head down. I’ve been wrestling with ghosts. Out in the wilderness, where betrayal hurts the most.’ Those words really set the stage for the entire emotional arc of the album that only finds resolution in the final song, ‘First Light’. But even that resolution isn’t one of complete certainty; rather, it is an acceptance and acknowledgement that only love will remain. Loss will come and go. Sorrow will ebb and flow. But love, in all of its brokenness and strangeness, will remain and have the exclusive ability to sustain us. Nothing on this album is a character or a creation of imagination and so because of that, they remain emotionally powerful to me every time I sing them. There is no ability to disconnect myself from the songs. But that always prevents me from trying to hide and creates and authenticity and believability that I think is so vital to the connection with the listener. I never want to ever get to a place where what I sing doesn’t move me emotionally first.
You mentioned that the album is somewhat about loss, but you showcase this in such a positive way through your power-pop style. Was this always the intention?
I really appreciate you asking this question as I think it goes to the heart of what makes ‘pop music’ such a powerful musical form of expression. I had once entertained the idea of covering the song ‘Help’ by the Beatles and changing it to a minor key to reflect on the melancholy tone of the lyrics. In the process of doing this, I had a revelation. The reason the lyrics are so powerful is precisely because they were attached to a pop melody. By removing that part of the song, I also removed all its power to reach the listener. While I’m certainly not claiming to have the brilliance of the Beatles, I think that example was an important moment of validation for my own approach to songwriting. Having a strong chorus and melody is very important to me. That is what helps to make the words memorable and lasting to the listener from my perspective. I believe that a good melody can elevate some weakness in the lyrics, but a poor melody cannot elevate even the greatest of poetic lyric writing. Of course, the goal is always to make them both work in unison to best draw the listener into the song and on this album, due to its personal nature, I am very proud of both the lyrics and the melodies. The fact that they are who I am and not some character created to tell someone else’s story also adds to the believability that every pop song needs to not be just another disposable moment.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time, career-wise/ musically?
This is a question that is hard to answer while we are still in the midst of all of this uncertainty on a global scale. In addition, the music industry itself is still trying to figure out how the new realities of streaming and other technology can even be leveraged to provide a sustainable financial future for a larger group of artists. So as far as what the band’s career may look like in 5 years, I really have no clear idea or expectation. The only thing I know for sure is that I am going to continue to write songs and work as hard as I can to improve and better connect with the listener. All of my career goals start and end with trying to write the best songs I can. I still believe that it is the song, more than the personality, image, or industry that truly has the ability to achieve the impossible. I want to become even more passionate about finding beauty in the present moment and capture that in song. I want to challenge myself and take risks in the pursuit of the perfect song.
Lastly, what’s next for you, what can fans expect next year?
Right now, I’m in the final stages of completing a 10-song follow-up to Maps called Possible Light. Since this year did not present itself with the ability to perform live as we had intended in support of Maps, it gave me additional time to write and record a collection of songs with a number of new collaborators and artists. I think that the new songs build upon the foundation of the last record in new and exciting ways. We look forward to releasing that new material and also getting the consistent chance to perform live again. 2022 is going to be a big year for Vanishing Shores and we want to be able to get out as much as we can and re-connect with those who have been so gracious and extravagant in their support of this music.
Listen to 'Maps' in full here: