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Vanishing Shores: Exploring beauty and truth with transcendent songwriting

Vanishing Shores
20 October 2021

Vanishing Shores – Photo Credit: Anita Schulz

Formed in Cleveland, Ohio as a vehicle for singer/songwriter Kevin Bianchi, Vanishing Shores is a band that explores beauty and truth with transcendent songwriting.

Kevin Bianchi has been joined by a rotating collective of collaborators who each provide their unique talents to carefully craft the musical vision of Vanishing Shores both in the studio and on stage.

Their new album Maps is an emotional journey through real life, everyday common human experiences and feelings one can resonate with from start to finish.

The title track and other singles such as “Fix Me” are standout songs with pure energy and vulnerability that are relatable as Bianchi wears his heart on his sleeve. ‘

Maps is an explosive and powerful record for fans of Brit-pop and alt-rock with influences from the ’80s and ’90s greats (like The Cure and The Replacements) coming to the fold. Diversity and storytelling make Vanishing Shores a band to look out for when you need original sounds and clever composition.

Bianchi kindly took part in a Q&A about the new LP and his sound and vision:

How was the recording process for ‘Maps’, how much of the album did you produce yourself?

“This album had a very long journey. I feel as if it has lived a couple of lives before it was even officially released. In order to record our first EP in 2018, I sold all of my guitars and equipment to fund it. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I was fairly confident that the EP would have some ‘legs’ and create a small community of fellow travelers and lovers of beauty in song. However, when it came time to begin recording the sessions for ‘Maps’, I obviously couldn’t duplicate that funding strategy again. Ha. In order to fund the album this time, I reached out to our dear friends and supporters to help us make this album through a Kickstarter campaign.”

“We are so deeply grateful to all of our supporters for sticking with us and giving us the foundation to be able to make this album. It really is such a humbling and inspiring thing to be able to have that kind of relationship with your supporters, to be able to journey together towards the creation of something of beauty and heart. It is not something I take for granted at all. During the time after the successful Kickstarter campaign and the completion of this album, a number of other events transpired that caused delays during the process, chiefly the global Pandemic, but also personal moments of loss.”

“All of this resulted in the album taking almost two years to complete from the original recording sessions to the release date. While I can’t say that this is the optimal time to take making a record, I do think that it does in some ways reinforce the deeper themes of the album. Many of the songs on this album were inspired by loss and so they have that element deeply ingrained in their DNA. They embody a sense of longing and the long journey to healing.”

“For me, this was the first album in many years where I was the Producer. Due to the personal nature of the songs, it was very important to me to try and get the chaos and emotion that was in my head as accurately translated into the songs as possible. This is not an easy process, but I think that the final songs do reflect an authenticity and honesty that could only come from being able to craft these songs in this personal way.”

“My collaborators on this project were so selfless in their willingness to not only follow this story, but also add their own emotion and creativity to it so that it truly feels like a community of artists and not simply a band name. It is a real gift to be able to create music with those that you love and trust and to be vulnerable enough to create something that, hopefully, invites the listener to add it to their journey and moment in time as well. It is pop music, but it is pop music that is meant to be messy and lived in.”

What bands were the biggest influences throughout that process, whether famous or local?

“Thematically, this album was influenced by the big questions of love and loss. During the writing process for the album, my Father-in-Law was dealing with Alzheimer’s and that struggle directly influenced a number of songs from a lyrical perspective. Because of this starting point, the songs began to be connected by the unifying thread of what it means to truly love and hope throughout a lifetime that is continually confronted with loss and separation.”

“The lyrics for this album then began to be my emotional reaction to the larger themes of love and commitment. The album ends with the affirmation that regardless of what life holds, I’m going to choose to love. This isn’t an easy answer and in fact, for some, may not be an answer at all. However, for me, it is my lifelong desire to be able to love in spite of the struggle or obstacles that I may encounter. If anything is to have the last word in our life, it should be love.”

“Musically, the album was influenced by a number of people that may or may not be instantly perceptible in the final album. I think that is a way for a lot of writers and artists. We may hear something in our head that feels like a certain artist or band, but when it is finalized, it is just us. Honestly, I think that is the best way, to get to the point where our influences guide us in a way that leads us to our true and best self in song and performance.”

“On a number of the songs, I did hear some Lindsay Buckingham-type harmonies and production nods, but again, those directions I think ultimately led the song to a place where it could be me and not some overt connection or parody. I also think that one of the best effects of an influence or inspiration is that it gives us the courage to take risks. Risk is so important in the pursuit of beauty. We need to move beyond the safe in order to get to a place of real connection.”

“That doesn’t mean we chase innovation, but that we chase authenticity and create a space in the music where the listener can truly connect it to their own story and journey. All of the music that matters to me, from The Beatles to Elvis Costello to Deerhunter or Lucy Dacus, create moments where I can step inside the music and make it my own. That is my ultimate goal with every song that I write or perform.”

Speaking of local bands, the song “Believe (Every Band I Know)” seems to be an anthem for your forgotten or overlooked hometown favorites. Tell us more about the inspiration behind this track.

“This song is a tribute to all of the hard-working indie bands out there pouring their heart into every single performance, regardless of the circumstances or reward. It is a song of community and defiance. So many of us have had this dream of creating beauty in song since we were little kids. After I first heard The Beatles at about four years old, I knew that I would never stop dreaming about the potential of songs to literally change everything about my life and world.”

“So much of what I have experienced is tied to a ‘soundtrack’ that has helped to shape and inspire me at every point in my life. With this song I wanted to admit to the struggles we all face to be ‘heard,’ but I also wanted to re-assert a commitment to pursuing joy no matter the cost. I want to be fearless in my pursuit of honest beauty in songwriting even if I’m only singing to 10 people at a dive bar. I want to believe and keep believing that it has meaning and value beyond just these fleeting moments.”

“So “Believe (Every Band I Know)” is an acknowledgement of the obstacles we face, both from within and without, but it is also a song of defiant joy because songs can and will transcend the momentary obstacles that try to keep them hidden or insignificant. There is limitless potential in music to change hearts and lives and bring beauty to a world that so desperately needs it, especially in our current moment in history.”

What are some of your favorite things about Cleveland and Ohio music or bands?

“I think the best thing about Cleveland is its resiliency and refusal to give up or let people outside the community define its value. For artists, this is such an important characteristic to appreciate and own. When it seems like there is no chance, it is often your best chance. To see bands and artists continue to create and move forward in spite of the obstacles is truly inspirational. I think the Cleveland music scene helps to foster and encourage this ethos.”

“ Like any community, it can run into the danger of becoming too insular and cliquish, but I don’t think that is unique to Cleveland. I think you would find that in any city or situation. I think it is also important to note that the Cleveland community has been so supportive and generous to all of the many artists and venues that have struggled during this Pandemic season. Iconic venues like the Beachland Ballroom and the Grog Shop have continued to push forward and make opportunities for artists and performers and I think that kind of mutual respect and support has kept hope alive in very substantive and transformative ways. The more we see that we are all connected, the better future we can create for music, art, and the creation of beautiful things.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“I would just like to express again my sincere gratitude for all of those who have listened to my songs or sent a note of encouragement during these long days of isolation and disconnection. We need to continue to foster community wherever we go, and to raise the voices of love and hope over those that would like to divide and discourage us. The songs on ‘Maps’ are very personal to me, but I feel they are also universal in their insistence on the overall victory of love. One of the lines in the title track that I continue to carry with me is, ‘Love is always moving in the underground.’ We look forward to being able to sing and affirm this truth with as many of you as we can in the coming months.”