George Lewis Jr. has proved himself a dapper master of yearning midnight music, but he’s hungry for more
His songs could be the soundtrack to a night of furtive glances and stolen kisses — 2010 debut Forget (Terrible) is a perfectly manicured collection of heartbreak pop — but George Lewis Jr., a.k.a. Twin Shadow, is no wallflower. There’s his look, which he’s described as “James Dean in Bollywood in the late ’80s,” and there’s also his sense of purpose. The dude wants to be a star. “If it means having to die, fuck that,” says Lewis, 28. “But if I can be a legend while I’m alive, I’ll take it.”
ROMANCE: Lewis details his amorous adventures on tracks like the Forget standout “I Can’t Wait,” crooning, “Her hands around my waist / My arms around her back / You know she loves my moves.” In real life, Lewis says, “I’ve always been chasing girls. That’s just my thing.” Growing up in Florida, he got his start tomcatting at “no-name nü-metal shows at somebody’s mom’s beach bungalow.” He’s since relocated to Brooklyn and moved on to brighter prospects. “Before, I was just someone trying to make it. Now I’m a dude who writes some pretty good songs and might have money someday.” (Appropriately, we had to reschedule our interview because Lewis was squiring a lady friend around Manhattan.)
STYLE: Image is “pretty important,” says Lewis, who’s been known to rock a kufi. “But that goes for my everyday life, too. I’m not gonna walk down the street and look like a slob.” Lewis’ man-of-mystery air is also aided by the fact that “nobody knows what ?I am. They all think I’m Pakistani or Indian.” For ?the record: He was born in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican mother and a Caucasian father.
CONFIDENCE: Lewis, who formerly fronted Boston garage-rockers Mad Man Films, played ?every instrument on Forget and knew immediately the album was a breakthrough. “I listened to the music around me and said, ‘This is better.’?” Discussing the follow-up, which he’s currently recording in Brooklyn, our man isn’t shy about taking shots. “Where you’re bombarded sonically — my ears started closing off to that. I like all the sparse stuff. It’s such a departure from, like, Animal Collective.” He grins. “Is that the name of the band?”
AMBITION: The fall headlining tour he’s got lined up should help back up his swagger, as will an appearance at the Austin City Limits festival. (This summer he opened for Florence and the Machine and played Coachella and Bonnaroo.) Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, who coproduced Forget and enlisted Lewis for recent solo project CANT, ?believes his running buddy is primed to move up. “There’s real sincerity in everything he does,” says Taylor. “And sincerity, above all, should be something people latch on to.” Hopefully, a lot of ’em. “My dream when I was a kid was to hear my song on the radio,” says Lewis. “I want that experience, at least once or twice. Or a hundred times.”
BUY THIS ISSUE
Read the entire September 2011 issue of SPIN, available now for iPad.