The psychedelic rock genre is one of discrete experimentation, subtle ambiance and loud sonic exploration — three key identifiers in shadow work’s new single, “Warm Tones.” The Denver-based art-rock trio is as forward-thinking as ever on the new track, diving into themes of cyclical discontentment, a reimagined lust for life and the discomforting disintegration of healthy personal boundaries.
shadow work is planting new seeds to water, fertilizing the soil of their creativity with a distinct sound that is as eerie as it is inviting. According to Rafael Nava, Shadow Work’s lead singer and guitarist, this sonic duality is a rebellion against complacency, a conscious effort to push shadow work’s creative boundaries and untraditional influences.
“Our individual musical inspirations vary pretty dramatically,” Nava said. “Instead of leaning into any particular genre, we’ve tried to embrace our musical differences. In the long run, we think it gives us a lot of creative freedom and longevity.”
Longevity is the name of the game for shadow work, who have dug deep into the Colorado music scene throughout the past few years, making annual tour runs through iconic Rocky Mountain towns to celebrate the passing of summertime and accompanying local lineups on Colorado music festivals like The Endless Fest. Later this month, they’re taking off to the Southern states to celebrate “Warm Tones” with 12 shows spanning from Texas to Tennessee. Although they’re excited about the upcoming tour, their favorite state to play is right here in their home state of Colorado, as Nava explained.
“We’ve been very busy. Our favorite aspect of the Colorado music scene is the passion. People here really want to hear new music and are willing to go find it. A variety of audiences are supportive of what we do — from house shows to mountain towns to bars, theatres and festivals. Colorado’s diverse music community has been an amazing place to call home.”
“Warm Tones” is a big moment for the dynamic trio, made up of Nava, Joseph Szlanic (bass) and Ben Zickau (drums). The track represents a bold new chapter in shadow work’s discography, marked by production from Grammy-winning engineer, John Scott. From Crumb and Trey Songz to Snoop Dogg and Lil Baby, Scott’s work is admired far and wide across the industry. So when he reached out directly to the band and express interest in the shadow work project and working on “Warm Tones,” the band was ecstatic, although pleasantly surprised.
“Every few months, we tour the Colorado mountain towns and we talk for hours. The conversation of who should be ‘Warm Tones’ producer? came up. We started playing our favorite tracks and discussed the stylistic production choices made by the various producers. We are huge fans of Crumb’s first couple of records, so we reached out to John Scott’s studio. To our surprise, he emailed us back directly and expressed his interest in what we were doing. So we started working on ‘Warm Tones’ together. It feels amazing to have the recognition of such an influential creator.”
The threesome love to perform. There’s no shortage of grimy musical improvisation, explosive transitional passages and psychedelic tunnels of dizzying sound experiments. “Warm Tones,” a track concerned with disbanding cyclical circumstances, fits this mold perfectly.
“Lyrically, ‘Warm Tones’ is a song about being a product of your environment, and the cycles we find ourselves in because of it. The subject of the song is desperate to break free from the patterns of relational dysfunction. It can be demoralizing yet freeing to acknowledge how the hand you’ve been dealt influences your life.”
Thankfully, shadow work is shuffling the deck and it looks like their risky bets are paying off. Make sure to check out their new single, “Warm Tones” and follow them on social media to catch a glimpse of their Southern tour this fall.
All Photography by Amanda Castro