Keeping up with the always awesome new premieres, we are teaming up with Shells for the premiere of her new single “Treading Water”. The song is filled with both upbeat melodies and haunting vibes that reminds you right away of bands and artists such as Wolf Alice and Regina Spektor.
“Postpartum depression at 22 is what opened my creative floodgates,” says Riley Brown, the Kansas City singer/songwriter who created Shells. Born out of Brown’s attempt to combat the “baby blues” after her son’s birth in 2014, Shells’ melancholy acoustic guitar meditations are fleshed out with electronic flourishes and compositional contributions from producer Ready Astronaut on Shells’ debut EP New Bones.
Brown said the following about the debut:
I started writing most of the songs on New Bones right after my son was born when I was feeling a little bit blue and only changed out of my pajamas once a week (maybe). A couple songs came from ideas that I’d held onto from a painful experience in a relationship involving infidelity. In early 2015 when I started writing New Bones I was a new mother, newlywed, recent college-graduate living in a family member’s basement with my husband, who was trying to finish graduate school. I would say that “melancholy” is a theme that ties the lyrical content of the EP together, but not all of the songs sound like total downers. I carried the mentality that all of these doors had suddenly slammed shut in my life but writing this music brought peace that I desperately needed during that time.
Josh Johnson (Ready Astronaut) had been Brown’s guitar teacher as a teenager when she was playing rhythm guitar for other musicians’ projects, and Johnson was eager to produce the demos that she shared with him, many of which were recorded using GarageBand on an iPhone.
Said Brown about their collaboration: “Josh and I started recording New Bones in late 2015, but we didn’t know what we were creating in the beginning. I had shown up with demos that were super mellow melancholy acoustic tracks and over the course of almost an entire year we reworked my ideas and incorporated more electronic influences.”
Brown cites Feist’s “The Reminder” as the original influence for her project Shells. She was also influenced by her playlist at the time: “I was listening to Currents by Eisley while writing New Bones; also Death Cab for Cutie’s Kintsugi and Feist’s Metals. I’m currently listening to Sunlit Youth by Local Natives, Santigold’s 99 Cents, and Phox’s self-titled album. My husband recently turned me on to Tycho and I’ve been loving Epoch.“
Shells is preparing to release the first official single from the EP, “Treading Water,” a seemingly carefree track that breezily conceals the emotional heaviness lurking beneath the surface. Brown has this to say about the song:
“Treading Water” is a response to all of the times I’ve stressed myself out over trivial things. I have a history of “making mountains out of molehills” and when I’m in that place it doesn’t matter what anyone says to me. I’ve always had to come to the conclusion on my own that everything is going to be okay. With age I’ve learned that it’s okay to feel everything, as long as you have a healthy way of getting out of the negative thoughts and emotions.
With this new project, Brown has tapped into something revelatory inside herself. “I love the notion that we are bigger than our bodies,” she says. “They’re just the shells that keep us contained in this moment.” Shells’ debut EP New Bones is set for release this summer.