A Chat with Shady Bug & "Blow" Video Premiere
St. Louis all-stars Shady Bug have been getting quite the buzz around their sophomore release, Lemon Lime — including a spot on NPR Music’s Slingshot playlist last month. We were lucky enough to have them play at our very own Untitled Fest at SXSW, and loved every minute of it!
We had the chance to chat with the Bugs and talk about humble beginnings, local roots, and what big plans lie ahead.
We are also so excited to be premiering Shady Bug’s music video for their track “Blow”! A collection of tiny moments, we get an intimate look at a night full of laughs, nerves, and Canada Dry. Check it out here, and make sure to see Shady Bug on tour in a city near you while they’re currently on tour.
Right off the bat, can you tell us a bit about the origin story of Shady Bug? How did y'all meet?
All four us were pretty active in the St. Louis music scene and played in different bands, so we knew each other from going to shows. I remember being at a dance party and telling Aaron about some new songs and riffs I was writing on guitar and he told me he always wanted to play drums in a band. So we jammed and tried it out, added Todd on bass and Tom on guitar, and then everything happened so fast. In 2017 we released our first tape, started touring, and wrote most of Lemon Lime.
I.M.: Congrats on the album! What was release day for Lemon Lime like for y’all?
H.R.: Thank you!! We had a release show the night before at our favorite local venue Foam. We planned it with our friends Yuppy who released their first tape that night too, which made it an even bigger party. St. Louis soulful singer and bassist Tonina performed, she is incredible! I also got my buds Red Sea from Atlanta to play, and their music is so good, it’s like queer 90s r&b + some funky beats + guitars. They used to be an indie rock band and kind of steered away from it to create something complete new, which is so groundbreaking and inspiring. I was dancing and grooving and singing along. We played a really sweaty set and got late night taco bell haha.
How did the creative process for this album differ from tbh idk?
Our last album was recorded in one day in Tom’s basement with help from our friend Zach Schimpf. A lot of the songs were written for my solo project and it didn’t take a lot of time to write since they are all very simple. Lemon Lime was a longer process and more collaborative. I wrote the core chord progression and lyrics but we worked together for almost a year to write the songs one by one. (Except ‘Lost My Head’ which is an old song of my solo set!) We recorded in four days in a real studio with Seth Engel of Options in Chicago, which was amazing.
Who/where/what were some inspirations for this record?
I’m always inspired by the city I live in and the people around me. I love St. Louis a lot but it is a depressing place sometimes because you kind of get stuck here. I wrote about feeling anxious, about my insecurities, climate change, my friends who are struggling to get by, and lemon lime soda lol! The push and pull, feeling happy-go-lucky one moment and then dread the next, sweet then sour – all those emotions go with the loud-quiet-loud sound that we incorporate throughout the record. I was going for an album that was soft and sweet, but also dark and wild, kind of like the era we are living in.
Tell us a little bit about your experience at South by Southwest! Did any new artists make it on your radar?
I have never played anything like SXSW before! It was crazy!! I was overwhelmed but it was pretty cool to see so many musicians in one place. We were all really inspired to see artists that were new to us, like Dumb, French Vanilla, Pecas, Tunic, King Princess, Exhalants, Blessed, and Video Age. Also amazing to see bands we were already big fans of like Stove, Rick from Pile, Palberta, and Priests.
For those of us who aren’t locals, what can you say about the St. Louis music scene and how the city influences your sound?
Compared to bigger cities I feel like the St. Louis music scene is small and more of a community. If I go to a show I most likely know most of the people there and friends show up to support and dance! Living in STL has it’s ups and downs though, we have a lot of issues here (police brutality, housing, poverty, racism) but it’s also an amazing place to be an artist because it is cheap and there’s lots of room to grow. St. Louis has it’s own soul, most of our buildings are brick, there’s a lot of empty buildings in the city, some areas are kind of desolate like Detroit in a way. You can hear some imagery of dark nights in the city in my lyrics in Lemon Lime and our last album tbh idk too.
If you could have a Shady Bug song on any film soundtrack (past or future), what movie would it be?
Couldn’t decide between Zenon Girl of the 21st Century, Spy Kids 3D or the obvious answer 1998 classic A Bug’s Life.
What are y'all currently listening to?
Hannah: Solange, Sneaks, SASAMI, Glued
Tom: Oyster World, Large Print, Boy Harsher, Knife Play
Aaron: Gal Costa, Yumi Matsutoya, Roland Kirk, Bob Dylan
Chris: Mahmoud Ahmed, the Clean, Mobb Deep, Exhalants, Meredith Monk
Quick: lemon or lime?
Recently it’s been lime, I squeeze lime juice into my sparkling water (so on brand).
What’s next for Shady Bug?
Our Lemon Lime tour is April 1–18 heading east, come see us In the future we would love to plan a tour out west! Oh also we are writing new music… ;)
Check out the remaining dates of Shady Bug’s current tour below:
04/09 - Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville
04/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Super Wimpy
04/11 - Baltimore, MD @ Joe Squared
04/12 – Washington, DC @ Dwell
04/13 – Richmond, VA @ Space Litter Records
04/14 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
04/16 – Athens, GA @ Little Kings
04/17 – Atlanta, GA @ 529
04/18 – Nashville, TN @ Drkmttr