WL//WH Review + Interview: Let’s “Melt” into WHIMSICAL’s new album – “Our taste in music is all across the board”

WL//WH Review & Interview  WHIMSICAL

Whimsical – Neil Burkdoll, Krissy Vanderwoude

Today it is with great joy that we are speaking to you from the constellation of the American shoegazers Whimsical (Dyer-Indiana). Their brand new album ‘Melt’ premieres today, April 1st, and it follows the critically acclaimed previous album ‘Bright Smiles & Broken Hearts’ (2019). The act comprises Neil Burkdol a very skilled player and truly imaginative composer who creates wonderful and adventurous at times shoegaze/ dream pop marvels, and singer Krissy Vanderwoude who is also in the transatlantic shoegaze act The Churchhill Garden, and radio producer on DKFM Shoegaze Radio (L.A.), this lady is one of the best shoegaze/dream pop singers with trademark voice and singing style and a lyricist so grounded and sensible.

In this article, you will also find a very interesting and informative interview they granted us a few days ago. Whimsical is among the most interesting and amazing American shoegaze acts with their music sounding like krama with guitar-work within clear limits and clear coordinates too. The composer literally knows and feels when to lay low with his noise as he also knows when to fill the “dream” and when an adventurous song arrives at its destination and must close. ‘Rewind’ is the leading single off the album, it is the opening track of the record with an official video too. Check it and I’ll tell you a few more things later…

I don’t want to do much analysis now and continue to write my own stuff because I know that you know the band very well too, especially you who are looking for gems in Fabrizio’s weekly shoegaze/ dream pop/ indie tips, after all, the album is waiting for you to enjoy and it is an excellent record that you will simply lose if you don’t listen to it (at least). ‘Melt’ LP is already a fact now so let’s go now to our interview with them (mention that they either speak as Whimsical, Neil, or Krissy when they want to explain something individually).

  • Hello Krissy, hello Neil, hello Whimsical, and welcome to WL//WH. Let’s go straight to the hot news; your new album ‘Melt’ officially releases today, April 1st, and I’d like you to speak first on the most important, for you and us, facts on this brand new release. 

Hello Mike, thanks for the interview and your continued support for Whimsical.  Yes, our fourth album ‘Melt’ releases on April 1st through Shelflife Records in the States, as well as Through Love Records over in Germany.  ‘Melt’ is the natural continuation of our ‘Bright Smiles & Broken Hearts’ album from 2019.  We sort of cover all of our styles musically and think our fans will find that there is something for everyone on this album.

{Neil} As we began working on this album, I knew from the start that I wanted to make the “dreamier” songs even more ethereal and the upbeat songs even more powerful.  We also tried to branch out a little bit with the song ‘Quicksand’ and tackle something that was out of our comfort zone and we are very happy with how it turned out.  We recorded 10 songs, with 9 songs making that album, and the extra song becoming the B Side of our ‘Gravity’ 7” that Shelflife released back in June 2021.  We personally think the production is better than ever and we are both satisfied with the final result.

  • I read in the press kit that “this new record pushes your sound more than ever before”. Are there comparative soundscapes with your previous albums? Of course, the music is still dream pop/shoegaze but I found some new musical elements, a slightly different sound or a different eye on some orchestrations…

Yes, we really wanted to perfect our styles as much as possible by making the softer songs more dreamy and the upbeat songs more energetic and catchy.  We have two sides to our sound coin and the Whimsical sound has always included dreamy, cleaner songs as well as faster, more distorted songs. ‘Melt’ LP continues this tradition.  We also branched out with a few mid-paced songs that are both distorted and dreamy as well.  We feel that if you are someone who enjoyed our previous album, you will enjoy this album as well.

  • 3 years after your last album ‘Bright Smiles & Broken Hearts’ the world has changed quickly as well as the same genre has changed too. In ‘Melt’ LP are there vital differences between before and now? 

We don’t know if the world really inspired any change in our songs musically, but maybe lyrically. Overall we just took everything that we learned from making the ‘Bright Smiles & Broken Hearts’ album and pushed new boundaries, while also making improvements.

{Neil} I upgraded some of my recording equipment and learned some new recording techniques.  Of course, there are always things that I’d like to change after an album is finished, but I’m pretty happy with how ‘Melt’ sounds. Also, we are on a new label with Shelflife Records and this helped reduce our stress since we didn’t have to self-release again.

  • Dream-pop is so often based on the guitar-driven shoegaze soils, and shoegaze cannot grow and evolve properly without the dream-pop lines. From what and where do Whimsical come from and what is that magically binds all their musings?

We have never claimed to be anyone’s style of sound or tried too hard to fit into any genre boxes. We have been told many times that we aren’t Shoegaze or Dream Pop and that’s fine. We see ourselves as having more in common with The Cure than with a band like My Bloody Valentine.  We always just try to be ourselves.

{Neil} I know that almost everything I write sounds like “Whimsical” when it’s all finished.  I think what sets us apart from others is that our songs are based on songs and not sounds. Hopefully, that makes sense, but our songs could very easily be played on an acoustic guitar and Krissy singing. The songs come first and effects are added later to add to the already existing song. We have never been super effects-heavy and I’m sure there are plenty of listeners who would prefer if we were, but that’s just not how I write songs.

{Krissy} I feel that we both draw from such a huge pool of musical influence that it helps to give us a unique sound in the end.  Aside from bringing our own creative ideas into the songwriting process, it also helps that we’re melting together all of the different musical influences that we’ve both been inspired by for years.  Our taste in music is all across the board, but I’d say you’ll hear the strongest roots of influence coming from bands like Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, LUSH, The Cure, and The Sundays.

  • I’d like to ask about your lyrics generally, and more specifically about the lyrics of the new album. I’ve heard some ‘earthbound’ lyrics in your songs over the years, I’ve also heard about life’s ‘magic’, and I’ve heard ‘heartfelt’ pieces too. What makes you write lyrics, what do you ‘confess’ in them, and what is the ‘literate stigma’ of Melt LP? Also, what is inspiring your lyrics?

{Krissy} Thanks for wanting to touch on the lyrical aspect of our songs. Lyrics are very important to me and something I always pay attention to, both in the songs that I listen to or the songs I’m a part of writing. I really try to write meaningful lyrics that will not only mean something to me, but also hopefully give the listeners something to connect to. I’ve received several messages over the years from people who have said that they felt as if I was singing about their life story in my lyrics, be it their current situation, something from the past, or something on their heart. To know that my lyrics really resonated with them and they could relate to what I was singing about was a very special feeling. It is something I always hope for with my lyrics. I almost always center them around some type of human emotion, so that they are relatable to others. They’re certainly not always a personal telling of my own situation or life story, but at the core of most of my lyrics will almost always be something relating to love. Whether that is the feeling of falling in love, falling out of love, the highs and lows of love, daydreaming, the pain associated with heartbreak, the inability to trust, etc. I try to find colorful ways to tell those different stories through my lyrics and make a conscious effort to not always be writing in such a literal sense. Instead, I like to use analogies to paint word pictures and describe all of those emotions and experiences in creative ways.

  • We’ve seen you release some really cool covers on names like The Smashing Pumpkins, Motorhome,  The Ocean Blue, and okay a cover is always something personal but I want you to tell us what Whimsical are usually listening to at home or when travelling?  I believe you don’t come strictly only from the genre in which you operate… 

{Neil} No, we both listen to many styles of music. I do listen to a lot of Shoegaze and Dream Pop, but I also listen to Industrial, IDM, Death Metal, Grindcore, Horror Punk, Skate Punk, Ambient, Darkwave, New Wave, and traditional Alternative like The Smashing Pumpkins and Sugar. I learned many years ago that I get bored if I keep listening to the same style over and over.

{Krissy}  I am such a music lover and really appreciate so many different styles and genres of music.  I think that is very reflective in our music as well and people can hear several of those different influences in our sound.  I love that it makes us a more well-rounded band and contributes to our sound being something unique and instantly identifiable as Whimsical.  Being that I also host the radio show for DKFM Shoegaze Radio, I will say that I find myself most often listening to shoegaze and dream pop, because I’m always digging for new treasures for the show. My love for music bleeds far beyond those borders though and I do also love postpunk, darkwave, synthpop, synthwave, postrock, industrial, indie pop/rock, Britpop, electropop, folk, lo-fi, twee, ambient, doo-wop, oldies, classical, classic country (ie: Johnny Cash), etc. When it comes to shoegaze and dream pop, I’m SO glad that there are so many amazing new bands making such brilliant music and breathing new life into the genre. I love that many of those bands are also willing to color outside of the lines a little and I have been really enjoying some of the shoegaze hybrid music that’s flowing into the scene as well. A most notable favorite for me would be some of the postpunk/shoegaze hybrid music. In general, I just love music so much and whether I am listening to the music that others create, or working on creating our own, I am immersed in it constantly.

  • What will be the next steps for Whimsical?

{Neil} We are taking a break and haven’t worked on any new music for awhile, but I have written some new song ideas recently. I think we will take our time with the next album and I can see us either going more Electronic or more Shoegaze. I’m not sure, to be honest. Rest assured, there will be a fifth album in the future.

{Krissy} We are so excited about the release of ‘Melt’.  As we worked on this album, we wanted to make sure that it was everything we imagined it would and could be. We feel that we reached that goal, so for now our plan is just to enjoy all that has and will continue to come along with this release. We hope to reach new fans with this album and hopefully inspire some new people with our music. We will revisit the creation of new songs again very soon, but for now we’re just enjoying the fact that this album will finally make its way into the world.

  • Can you give us Whimsical’s message to the world, please? Do you want to say anything on the shame of our species still waging war in 2022, and on the inability of humanity to control a (serious) pandemic? 

{Neil} Well, I don’t think it’s our place to shame anyone but I would like to think that our music would help someone brighten their day.  It’s been a rough few years and it is crazy to think we have a war to deal with on top of everything else.

{Krissy} We are certainly very disheartened by all that has taken place in the past few years in this world. I just hope that people will be able to find some source of inspiration and light in this world and stay plugged into it during these dark and often depressing times. Personally, having this outlet of music to pour into has been the perfect place to escape from those heavy realities. It would be a dream come true to find that our music is something that has been inspiring to anyone else, especially in times like these.

  • Whimsical, you rock. Last words on you…

Thanks for the interview and for always being willing to support Whimsical. We are just two people who enjoy being creative and pushing our songs to the next level and it means the world that people like you are there to help share our music with others.  Please check out our new album ‘Melt’ on April 1st!!!

Whimsical’s fourth album ‘Melt’ is out from today, April 1st, on CD/Ltd. 12″ Vinyl & Digital, through Shelflife Records (US) and Through Love Records (EU)

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Written by Loud Cities’ Mike

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