I recently got the chance to interview Citizen Shade frontman Will Howard. The 25-year-old North Carolina native is joined by cellist Justin Mackey and David Lezcano on keys, it’s the trio’s fresh take on modern pop that has quickly captured fans’ attention. The group recently released a new EP, One for the Evening, and Howard says that “This EP is the crossroads of both pop/rock and classical/jazz musicians. It makes us proud to be in a musical space where all of those elements are possible.”
The new EP, One for the Evening, is out now. How does it feel to have such a positive response?
Will Howard (of Citizen Shade): I have been overwhelmed with the response, but I’ve always been a futurist. I’m always planning and looking ahead. It wasn’t until we got the hard copies in the mail that I was able to sit down and enjoy one listen through with a scotch whiskey in hand. We are already moving forward to the next project.
The EP seems to pull from a few different places (pop, funk, soul). When creating, were you aiming for a certain sound?
Will Howard (of Citizen Shade): Indeed! I grew up listening to soul music, but I’ve always been intrigued by artists that are willing to TURN UP and rock it out when they feel like it. The great Donald Fagen from Steely Dan has influenced our sound quite a lot with their unique blend of rock, jazz, R&B and soul. We like the massive sounds of Coldplay and OneRepublic as well.
You obviously create great original music, but I’ve noticed you often do covers as well. Why is that?
Will Howard (of Citizen Shade): I’ve noticed that covers have helped new audiences relate with our sound a bit more. It helps bring in another demographic entirely when we flip Taylor Swift or OneDirection songs. For live shows it’s also nice to have the audience yelling lyrics back at us.
I have to ask, where does the name, Citizen Shade, come from?
Will Howard (of Citizen Shade): Generally speaking I think that we all live in the shade. Meaning that in life there is a pain and pleasure, light and darkness. The inspiration came from Matthew Woodring Stover, one of our favorite authors.
“The dark is generous and it is patient and it always wins – but in the heart of its strength lies its weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back. Love is more than a candle. Love can ignite the stars.” — Matthew Woodring Stover
Make sure to click on the links below to connect with Citizen Shade, hear new music, and watch videos. Don’t forget to check out their new EP One for the Evening!