Shimmertraps: Seeing sound

by McKenna Cardwell

The Shimmertraps communicate their art through multiple mediums, taking influence from not only psychedelic sounds, but through design and visual imagery.

The phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ stands true for many things in life aside from the obvious, but judging CDs by their cover is exactly what lead singer Zach Moses did growing up. Picking out graphically interesting, artistically pleasing covers and then listening to the music inside.

“I think that album cover art sets the tone for music,” Moses said, “and our music is definitely influenced by our album designs and imagery.”

Drummer turned bassist Kyle Menne also grew up around music. “My dad used to own this old record store, so I grew up surrounded by records with my dad blasting whatever was popular at the time,” Menne said.

It was Moses and Menne who founded the Shimmertraps after the end of another band that specialized in garage rock. The duo started making music under the new name inspired from an Arctic Monkeys song, around January, using their newly found freedom to create the smoother sound they both craved.

Beginning to lean towards a more neo-psychedelic, indie pop and 80s rock inspired sound, they experimented with reverbed synths and loops. Channeling electronic and rhythmic swells, the tracks feel smooth and cohesive, built off the solid foundation of Menne’s basslines.

They released the album Zap in May of this year, which featured six tracks they wrote and recorded together.

“That was the first time I wrote songs with the next track in mind, and tried to create a cohesive body of work,” Moses said. “But we recorded more instruments than we could play live.”

Lacking the numbers needed to achieve a fuller sound, the two decided to seek out more members to their band. This led to the additions of Ian MacPhee on guitar, and most recently Justin Klipping on synths/auxiliary and Brodie Cole also on guitar. Cole coming all the way from North Carolina.

“I feel like the Northwest has a very unique sound, and that it wasn’t readily available to me from North Carolina,” Cole said. “Coming together has been a process that involved the smoothing of a lot of edges, but I think we all have similar ideas of the direction we want to go in.”

As a full, five-piece band, the Shimmertraps have plans to expand their music from recordings, to live shows, as well as release the nine new songs in February. Songs that were completely written, recorded, and mixed by the band.

“It was important for us to keep the process within the band,” MacPhee said. “That way we have total control of what we produce, producing something that is all our own.”

As for their plans regarding live performances, they also depend on the design aspects of the show, as the theme of incorporating visual aspects only strengthened with the new members.

“I’m a visual artist first, it’s what I’ve been doing for nine years,” Klipping said. “Playing music is like painting with sound, it’s all about finding the right textures to create an environment for our listeners.”

The band expresses that as a creative outlet. They want to include live imagery in their shows, T.V.’s, interactive lights, backgrounds, and even how the stage is set up will all play a part.

“We want to break down that barrier between band and audience, and create an all-encompassing experience as one organism, band and audience,” Klipping said.

Designing a show based off of the audience’s experience doesn’t mean that the music they create is solely developed with the listener in mind.

“Music comes from a personal place but its reflected back differently through different people,” Menne said. “But it is interesting to see how people react to our music.”

All members agree that making music together is something they all look forward to, and MacPhee said that is it something that is almost constantly on his mind.

“Whenever I think of something new or create a new sound I can’t wait to have practice and show the guys,” Moses agreed.

“I think that we all just want to see how far that this can go,” Menne said. “I can’t say that I wouldn’t be crushed if this ended tomorrow, but we just can’t put that kind of pressure on ourselves.”

For more information, check out shimmertraps.bandcamp.com.

Published in the December 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine