Shadowfax, led by a current CapU Jazz student, breaks down their story-driven debut album
MATT SHIPLEY (HE/HIM) // CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
SHARLEEN RAMOS (SHE/HER) // ILLUSTRATOR
After a wait of nearly four years from their planned album release, Vancouver-based alt-folk group Shadowfax is now in the final stages of preparation for their official release on April 6, 2023.
“It’s been in the works since 2010,” said Jeremy Gerard Raphael Hanlon, the band’s guitarist and lead singer — as well as a current CapU Jazz student. “‘Stars and Shells’, one of the tunes on the album, I originally recorded it on my brother’s old cassette-tape recorder.” Stars and Shells is a mythical tune that follows the story of Orpheus as he enters the Underworld to save his wife, Eurydice, setting the scene for a very story-focused album.
“Each of the songs on the album, for the most part, is a story about a character,” said Hanlon. “You know, on the album art you can see a few of the characters that are referenced in the lyrics.” Another song, the name of which is yet to be revealed, is about a demon corrupting and devouring the soul of a lustful preacher.
The story-focused nature of the lyrics leaves much to be imagined by the audience, rather than a straightforward explanation of the story. “I don’t want to say ‘this is what this is about’ on a deep level,” said Hanlon. “To some extent, people come to their own conclusions on what a song is about, and whether or not that’s true to me, what matters is whether it’s true to them.” He explained that the album encompasses multiple different musical styles to fit each individual segment of its story better, and to create a sense of change throughout the album.
The band’s original release date was going to be in 2019, but a number of hurdles kept pushing the date back. “We had to delay the release date once for a grant application, which ended up falling through. We pushed it back to April of 2020, but… you know,” Hanlon laughed. “We couldn’t meet up to jam for a couple of years, and with the production of an album already being such an intense and expensive endeavour, it just wasn’t possible to do it before now.”
The band is doing all of the promotion, arrangement and organization by themselves, including collaboration with Salt Spring Island-based artist Julia Iredale on their album art and merchandise.
“We sent Julia an email back in 2017, and she said she loved the music and would be happy to do the illustrations for it,” said Hanlon. “We’ve been ecstatic about pretty much everything she’s done for us since. She mostly does book covers, and she’s quite prolific.” Hanlon recommended her for any art commissions a reader or writer might have, whether it be a book or something more like Shadowfax’s project.
“It’s definitely a relief,” said Hanlon. “We’ve been sitting on this for so long, and people are finally going to hear it. It’s scary, for sure, but it’s a relief more than anything.”
Shadowfax will play at the Wise Hall in East Vancouver on April 6. Doors open at 7pm for the 8pm show, featuring multiple CapU students, alumni and community members.
Tickets can be found on Eventbrite under Shadowfax: Orpheus.