The Shadowboxers Talk Humble Beginnings, Pita Chips, and New Music for 2017

Meredith Schneider

Jason Myers Photography

Nashville-based pop/r&b five-piece The Shadowboxers have been riding the waves of success due to a couple of really great singles in recent months (Namely, “Build the Beat” and “Woman Through the Wall“). Considering the fact that they were founded by Justin Timberlake himself and are signed to his artist development label (Villa 40), there are some big things down the pipeline (See: Joke below) for them.

We caught up with them following their recent appearance at the Brooklyn Bowl to get to know the guys a little better. Founding and principle members Matt Lipkins, Scott Schwartz, and Adam Hoffman make us laugh – and think – in this fun interview. You can check it out below!

Why music? What’s in it for you?

MATT: Why music? Probably because of what’s in it for us, which is pita chips and hummus mostly. At the end of a tour, the front seat of our van looks like we robbed one of those quick-bite stands at the airport.

What sort of cohesion, or togetherness, has been forged in your time together?

SCOTT: We’re like a 3-way married couple. We often know what a person is going to say before he says it, and know how the others will react to that thing said. Though it can be a challenge, our togetherness has been our greatest strength for two reasons: First, we have developed a comfort in knowing our roles, the positions we need to put ourselves in to be successful, and the best ways to put our skills together to produce the best product. We’ve had enough shared experiences at this point, both good and bad, to be able to say “man your positions” and know what that means and who does what. And secondly, the fact that we know each other so well motivates us to be spontaneous and unexpected, to constantly improve and surprise each other. There is no greater thrill than causing your other band mates to say “man I didn’t know you had that in you.”

How do you continually find the inspired to keep creating music?

ADAM: That part of it is easy. We’ve been together as a band for so many years now and we were all writing and playing long before as well, so writing and creating music is second nature. As a writer, you’re always writing. And by that I mean, you’re always observing. I am confident that each of us has a phone filled with notes of different ideas, lyrics, concepts, voice memos, etc… it never stops. The hard part is putting it all together and sifting through everything to find, not only the best material, but also the material that is most relevant to what we want our message and sound to be. Did I even remotely answer your question? Trees, is the answer.

Where do you feel the most comfortable as an artist? On stage, in the studio, somewhere else?

MATT: As comfortable as we’ve gotten with the language, the excitement of going into work every day to create, and with how our bodies react to lack of sunlight from sitting in a room in the same position with our heads in our hands as we contemplate the difference between two strikingly similar snare drums, we’re always gonna be performers. It comes way more naturally to us to shut out everything else, get up on a stage and turn on for an hour and a half with your friends, because (separately and together) we’ve all been doing that since we were kids.

Is there a particularly challenging moment that has defined your journey so far?

SCOTT: When we first moved to Nashville two years ago, things moved slowly. In fairness, weren’t sure what to expect, but were still disappointed by our lack of activity and progress…and money. And factoring in the community we came from in Atlanta, which both socially and professionally provided us comfort and excitement, we were kinda down. We really bonded together though and put all of our focus on this band, playing shows and writing songs. While we’re still not where we want to be, we’re a lot closer and more productive having taken that mindset after moving.

What’s in the pipeline for 2017?

ADAM: Apparently a lot of oil in Dakota and Keystone for fuck’s sake. But for us, new music. Whatever form our next release takes, it will be our absolute best foot forward. We have been pouring over these recordings for countless hours and we’re determined to make them air-tight. So new music. We promise.

You’re a part of Villa 40- what’s the atmosphere like? How has the experience been?

MATT: It’s certainly uncharted territory! The atmosphere is supportive since we’re all kind of in the same boat (the four guys at V40 and us, that is); we’re a “baby band” and they’re a baby development company. They’re open to our ideas and say “yes” a heck of alot more often than they say “no”, and we’re grateful for that.

Do you have a dream collaboration with another artist, producer, or someone else?

ADAM: Blake Mills. I think he’s the best producer (and guitar player) alive right now. No one is making records the way he is and I think we could do something really special together. And literally everything I just said applies to Kevin Parker too. But swap guitar for drumming in his case.

If you could introduce yourself to an audience in any way, no constraints, how would you?

SCOTT: That “no constraints” part is just begging to be used here…So I will. We would love it if an audience could watch us perform our high-energy live set with horns and lights and choreography and sophisticated musicality, while simultaneously watching us sing three part harmony in a living room with one instrument, no frills and nothing to hide behind. And then after that we’d love everyone to come on the road with us and hang and watch movies in our van, laughing and listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire and enjoying hotel continental breakfasts. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, and want that to come across just as much as the music does.

Anything else you’d like to let the readers of Impose Magazine know?

MATT: We. Will. Have. More. Musics. Out. This. Year. PROMISE.

SCOTT: I want you all to know that I still haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie and I’m embarrassed about it. I am a fan and have seen all of the others in the series, but for some reason this one has slipped through the cracks. I must admit it is cathartic to admit this to you, and hopefully it will serve as some distant but necessary accountability that will send me straight to the theaters to fix this unexplainable issue.
ADAM: Yes. The inside spread of Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down” is the greatest picture ever taken.

___

Keep up with these guys via theshadowboxers.com.

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