Building a mystery with Shadow Show — the girl group you wish you were in

Bands to watch

Jan 22, 2020 at 1:00 am
Shadow Show.
Shadow Show. Noah Elliott Morrison

The minute Kate Derringer, Kerrigan Pearce, and Ava East of Shadow Show realize they can go "off the record" during our interview, chaos ensues.

"That's off the record," East says about the concert the band members met at during high school, what their forthcoming debut record sounds like, their ages, tour plans, details of weird airport encounters, top-secret internships, and their shared desire to score a cosmetics contract or tampon sponsorship.

Shadow Show's paper trail, as East refers to it, started in 2018 when the band started recording demos. However, their history as friends and bandmates started well before then with what East calls "a very cute story" that Pearce must tell because it starts with her.

"I knew Kate since, like, middle school, and I knew she played bass, and I knew I wanted to play drums, and there was a really, really good excuse to start. So I just hit her up and then, through the grapevine, Kate knew Ava," Pearce laughs. "It's not that great of a story."

What is clear is that the ladies of Shadow Show are controlling their own narrative: from their retro shag haircuts, flared pants, and expertly placed liquid-eyeliner stars and hearts on their cheeks, to their united front in maintaining what Pearce calls "mystique." Collectively, they dodge questions about what we can expect from Silhouettes, the mod trio's debut record set to be released on Valentine's Day (which East says is "cute as heck") by Burger Records and UK's Stolen Body Records.

"We really wanted to approach it in the most sensible way we could with spreading the word about us, but also not really releasing music until we had a full record," Pearce says. "We knew we didn't want to self-release because you put it out in the world and then what's after that?"

The first taste of what Shadow Show has been cooking up came earlier this month with the premiere of their video for "Charades." Shot by the Go's Bobby Harlow, "Charades" feels like a dreamy, candy-colored romp through their everyday lives, which Shadow Show often refers to as their "wonderland," as they dart around Belle Isle on roller skates, taking turns smoking a shared cigarette, and performing at UFO Factory. Part home movie, part Monkees/Beatles misadventure montage, "Charades" is just a peek behind the curtain.

Pearce describes Silhouettes as both "angular" and "dreamy."

"We love chewing bubble gum, but it's not a bubblegum record," East says. "I don't know, I don't know what it sounds like. Are we supposed to know what it sounds like?"

"If we can instill curiosity about our music or our band in general, that's a great fucking thing," Pearce says.

When Derringer gets up to briefly step out of the interview, both Pearce and East want to gush, labeling her the most agile of the Shadows, and credit her with having engineered the entire record. And when Derringer returns, they take turns complimenting each other, recalling a memory that may or may not be off the record in which they drank white wine as the sun came up over Venice Beach after drunkenly and repeatedly soaking beach towels in the ocean, and throwing them in the air just to celebrate the sound it made after it hit the sand, all while listening to the Beach Boys' Surf's Up. They dig around in their phones to find evidence of that night's aftermath, a photo of themselves piled onto a friend's couch, under a mass of blankets.

"There were several couches," Pearce jokes. "We just had to be together."

In conversation, they refer to each other as family, treating even the shortest separations as heartbreak, and they all speak about the coming months in a way that makes us feel as though they're gearing up for more than a record release and some local shows, including their album release at Outer Limits Lounge on Feb. 14 and a performance during the Hamtramck Music Festival. Shadow Show has more tricks up their bell sleeves.

"This album is all of us in one. You know, we all bring a part to it, and so, like, even though we have this mystery, this aesthetic, this is an honest record. Like, I could not stress that enough. It's like this is who we are,"East says. "I think the only way to stop us is if someone put their heels on or, like, skirts or something."

From the 2020 bands to watch issue.

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