Q&A: SHADED reveal the inspirations behind emotional new EP, _003

"There are so many different strings that we’ve pulled inspiration from."

Alt-Pop trio SHADED have released their latest EP, '_003', an emotional yet uplifting coming-of-age collection packed with sing-a-long boy band choruses and harmonies.

We caught up with frontman Matt East - who is joined by Dan Bradberry and Callum Irons in the band - to discuss their influences, the theme of heartbreak, and the highs and lows of being a creative amid a global pandemic.

Which bands have influenced the sound of the EP?

Everything that we’re doing now is just a complete amalgamation of everything that we’ve been listening to or inspired by since we started writing music. If we’re looking more modern-day … we listen to a lot of alt-pop at the moment. LANY, Chelsea Cutler, Jeremy Zucker, that sort of stuff is really up our street at the moment! If we’re going waaaaay back though, my favourite band of all time is Boyz II Men, and Cal’s is McFly, so there are just so many different strings that we’ve pulled inspiration from.

Tell us about opener 'It’s Hard'?

'It’s Hard' is just a super emotional instrumental that we wanted to use as a sort of interlude to just tie everything together. The title is super self-explanatory; life is really hard sometimes!

What's 'Forever' about?

'Forever' was written based on that stupid feeling that we all get after a breakup where we’re just like 'I literally can’t be without this person' and 'I’m gonna be alone forever'… which, with time, we realise definitely isn’t the case.

And 'We Should Be Happy'?

It's about detaching yourself from the people that say: 'But we can still be friends'. The only way people heal and grow after a traumatic experience is by totally separating themselves from it and, in time, realising that you deserve to be - and will be - happy without it.

Does your childhood friend know about 'Heartbroken People', and if so, what was her reaction?

Haha, I honestly have no idea! We haven’t spoken in ages, and like I said in the track, we only ever talk over Instagram once every couple of months so I’m not too sure. I hope she has [worked it out].

How has your 'A Year of You' project (20 songs) kept you going amid the pandemic, music is like therapy isn’t it?

I won’t lie, it’s been tough. It’s been such a demoralising and stifling two years, especially on the creative front, but we just got our heads together and made sure that nothing stopped us from creating and writing music. The free time that we’ve had over the pandemic, we’re never gonna get again in our lifetimes, so it was just about making the most of it.

Where were the songs recorded, were you all in the same room?

Everything from 'A Year of You', except for 'Apparition', was totally self-produced and recorded by Cal and me.

We’ve both got home studio setups where we have all of our writing and recording sessions.

'Apparition', however, we recorded back in 2019 with Seb Barlow (Neck Deep) at his studio in Wales.

"It's been a really positively challenging time."

How has the past 18 months affected you personally and as a band?

We’ve made a massive, conscious effort to not let it affect our personal relationships, especially with one another.

Over the first couple of lockdowns we were having Zoom calls most days and online writing sessions so it didn’t have too much of an effect on us in that respect. Obviously, it’s been tough for the band due to the lack of touring, and relying on social media to keep pumping coal into the engine has been a learning curve for sure. But we’ve kept our heads in the game and haven’t stopped doing what we can, so we’re all still feeling really positive about everything.

It’s clearly been a prolific period for the band, have you felt inspired the whole time, or have some days been hard to keep up the momentum?

There’s definitely been ups and downs for sure. When we planned this project, COVID didn’t even exist so we haven’t been able to follow through with plans that we had made prior to the pandemic, but on the whole, it's been a really positively challenging time. We love getting out of our comfort zones and learning as we go, especially as it’s the first project that we’ve solely produced ourselves.

What can we expect from your Old Blue Last show? Any surprises planned?

The setlist is our biggest to date, and the energy is going to be THROUGH THE ROOF!

How excited are you to get on stage?

It’s gonna be crazy. We’re so excited to see familiar faces that we haven’t been able to see for the last two years, and it's just gonna be a great opportunity to thank everyone for sticking with us through it all.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and hopes for 2022?

Our main focus right now is to get 'AYOY' finished and executed to the best of our abilities.

From 2022, we’re excited for a lot of touring, festivals, seeing new places and MORE MUSIC.

Tickets for SHADED's Live Nation showcase at Old Blue Last in Shoreditch are available for free here.

Listen to '_003' below: