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A Shoreline Dream on new album, Barnum, Ulrich Schnauss and Chapterhouse

21 November 2022

Can we start with a bit of history? How did A Shoreline Dream come about, and what musical paths got you to where you are today?

Ryan: We began back in 2005, directly after working on a project called Drop The Fear, which was more in the realm of Trip Hop, meeting a slight bit of gaze sound. It was a three-piece, and after a pretty heated breakup, the two of us decided we wanted to take it more to the realm of the wall of sound. We had been in two other projects together, including the first, a goth electro thing called Pure Drama, and both of us were super motivated (aka super single) and decided to take it a step further. So we spent a good deal of time finding ourselves in the studio.

Developing what that sound was. Figuring out where we wanted to go with it. We became music hermits. Both Gabe and I had a very close similar set of sounds that we gravitated towards, so it was pretty easy finding the sound of A Shoreline Dream. A bit of Dead Can Dance meets Sigur Ros or something. Ethereal rock with a moody atmosphere. So we added in our guitarist from Pure Drama, Erik Jeffries, and away we went!

We jammed for quite a bit, recording what came out, and some of those recordings made themselves on the final tracks that eventually formed Avoiding the Consequences, our first and probably most important LP, as it garnered a lot of attention for whatever reason in the music world, especially with the indie kids. Landing a key distribution with Tonevendor down in Tampa Bay kinda changed everything for us, alongside huge support from the Filter Magazine crew, who put us on everything, everywhere, as hard as they could. This would eventually be how we landed in the hands of some super important and influential people, such as Ulrich Schnauss, who would then help spread our name further.

I would say this time period was probably our most important overall, as if things didn’t align just right, there is no way we would have landed in some of the places we eventually did. We were staying true to our indie selves, not signing to any major label offers, not getting sucked into the commercial nightmare of music making, and appeasing the big guys. We wanted to stay true to our tunes, but there was also the reality we started our own label and had to play the business right. It was one of the most important eras for me in the progression of making this a business that could at least stay somewhat afloat.

Your music wanders between the cavernous and the dream-like, the brooding and the beautiful. Are there any particular influences on your music, and is there such a thing as a definitive ASD sound?

Ryan: That’s awesome to hear that we have brought that vibe across to people like yourself. To me, it’s always been about producing songs that instantly create a visual soundtrack. Put people in a space outside themselves. Something fantasy. Spacious and grand. Of course, adding in the emotions of whatever was going on during the production of each track, but overall the plan was always to create a cosmic orchestra of sound. Layers of different noise makers charging up for this big power spike/explosion. I think, in most cases, we captured that vibe.

It’s a tricky one to achieve, but when you think of music not as a technical thing, but more like an organic visual converted to sound, magic things can happen. I believe all the members experienced that in one way or another through the musical journey known as A Shoreline Dream. So our definitive sound is all based on our particular emotions at different times in our careers. I think that’s why even more recently, it’s been more of a goth gaze kinda thing. A bit darker than it’s ever been.

Your new Loveblind album marks your first significant post-Covid release. In that relation, what has changed within the band and the music-making process, and what has changed around you?

Ryan: Everything has changed. Interaction, of course, was hindered, and get-togethers ceased for the most part. I think that is why the majority of the album is almost a personal voyage through it all. Erik came in and brightened up a few spots on the album that I almost love the most on the release, while the rest of it was a big reflection of the massive loss that I was not particularly prepared for. 2 of my best friends passed away alongside my grandmother, on top of the fact most of my remaining friends left town, and most of my business evaporated into thin air. A war that freaks me out broke loose, and I’ve been single through it all for one reason or another. It’s been bleak.

So the music is for sure responding to these conditions. The songs are trying to break free from the pure weight of it all… which is even more apparent with the track “Harlow Syndrome.” This happened at the very last step of production, where I was rushed to the ER after reading about Jean Harlow, who died of kidney failure…. I thought I was about to die of right after finishing the story I was reading when the same symptoms occurred. They even said as I was admitted that I might be having kidney failure… which instantly put me in the mood that song conjures up. It was easily one of the most difficult time periods of my life, which comes through big time in the music…

Is there a particular message behind the singles “Loveblind” and “Alarms Stop Ringing”? And does the album explore specific themes or seek to open up certain conversations?

Ryan: “Loveblind” is, without a doubt, a big message in regards to letting life pass you by while putting particular focus on the dead things of the past. Once someone goes through a very close death in their lives, things look and sound different. It’s easier to see and hear the ghosts all around us, haunting. It’s easier to be more open to things we never thought we would fall in love with. “Alarms Stop Ringing” is very much in the same realm. I have created a visual story with our video for both that explains this in a subtle way. Subtlety is key in music, I think. I never went to say exactly what certain words truly mean, but really how they feel. These tracks are meant to move and inspire towards not getting stuck in terrible places. To look forward and think of things differently. To not get hung up by those entities that are trying to hold us back in their traumatic ways.

The album was recorded over ten months in the Barnum suburb of Denver, Colorado. I understand that you have a special relationship with this community – can you tell us about that?

Ryan: Barnum has been the majority of my life. We all have those places. Places that we feel we belong, for whatever reason. My neighborhood here was once owned by the circus great, and I think that itself was a big allure and a big talking point for me. It’s not like it’s all that safe of a place, or fancy in any way, but it has character unlike most parts of this rebuilt city. It sits on a hill looking down at the massive buildings, and is just what it is. A bunch of super old houses with lots to say.

My house, being from the 1800’s is for sure full of stories. Some good. Some bad. But all authentic. I’ve had someone commit suicide in my tree just outside my office window, I had a neighbor, whom I was friends with get murdered in his backyard, 20 feet from me… but I’ve also built some of the coolest pieces of art, and made some of my favorite music here. It’s an important place for me without a doubt.

Tell me a bit about this latest album’s writing and recording process. Was Covid a factor in terms of how you worked?

Ryan: Erik and myself got together when we could, but this was for sure not to the regularity of years past. Most of the album was me locked away in my studio, tweaking, and fine-tuning sounds. We still, on occasion, would sit down for a few hours and hit record, but this album became a bit more internal to the machine while capturing some very heavy moods at every possible moment. My workload was also a bit different during the main part of the production. I was only working on one constant project (John Carpenter’s Halloween Pinball Machine), and the rest of my time was devoted to this. I had some freedom to try things a bit differently. I’m not sure I’d ever want to do it that way again, but I feel it came out authentic, and that was important for me.

I understand that, apart from the new album, you are also issuing your seminal album Recollections of Memory (which also involves Ulrich Schnauss) on vinyl. Can you tell us about that and also your relationship with Ulrich?

Ryan: Yes, right now we are in a crowdfunding campaign on Diggers Factory for both of our first 2 LP’s, finally being offered on vinyl, for the first time ever! I am really hoping we pull in the orders to make those a reality, as they are the two most important albums of my life, and who wouldn’t want those in the largest format possible? Ha!

Ulrich, as I mentioned earlier, was a huge part of our initial success. After our first album he sent out an email saying our album was great, and many took notice of that. It was during the myspace era so influence spread like wildfire on that platform. Filter also pushed us hard and it amounted to an appearance on their main music page, which truly put us in a new realm of the music world. I was beyond excited and got in touch with Ulrich after learning about his email from a band we were on tour with (Innaway), who told me about it. He was super interested in writing a song together after sending the proposal, and we went for it.

Writing numerous songs together, touring, and even being invited to play with him during his sets at SXSW as his guitarist. So we were pretty tight for a bit. I even flew out to his territory and wrote one of my favorite tracks with him titled “London”. I would say our collaboration was probably the peak of my music career. I felt like all my goals had come true, and more importantly I felt I was producing music with a true great, who took me on a ride I never thought imaginable. Without Ulrich we would have never played a show with Chapterhouse for their final appearance ever, and that alone is one of the top 3 events of my life.

Where next for A Shoreline Dream?

Ryan: More music. More exploration! Right now it’s only a 2 piece so we would need to acquire a few more members to take it live again, but I would love for that to happen so hopefully we can meet the right ones to do it! In the meantime I doubt I’ll ever stop producing until death, so more will be on the horizon in regards to future releases. I have been busy on another side project titled Alien Gothic, so once I get that finalized and released A Shoreline Dream will be the focus once again. Hopefully much sooner than later. I just need to keep pushing the new music. More videos, more interviews, etc. Hopefully we’ll be talking with you more! Thanks for taking the time!