25 Nov EMBRACE POSSIBILITY WITH INDIAN RUN’S NEW ALBUM, IDK WHAT HAPPENS NEXT…
I’m a planner. (Not the type of “planner” people usually fib about being in job interviews. I’m ACTUALLY a planner.) Daily to-do lists? Heck yes, but sooo much more. I’m talking weekly, monthly, yearly goals, with a manically strict level of self-adherence, followed by some nauseating, post-performance self-evaluation. While I can definitely attribute many of my accomplishments to this rigid brand of organization, I *have* (secretly) always wondered what might happen if I loosened up my schedule (juuust a little).
When every moment of every day is already reserved for its own task, there’s zero room left for possibility—that magically indefinable space where ANYTHING can happen. And that anything *could* be a glimmering mixture of what you both need and want. Indian Run’s freeing new album not only kicked me off my adamant axis but taught me that embracing possibility (or, in my case, the unplanned) empowers you to forge a more natural track, the beginning of an expansive journey your rigid plans never could have foreseen.
Let me back up. In case you’ve been sleeping on one of My Multi-Track Mind’s VIPs, Shane Becker is indie-alternative, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Indian Run. Inside his cozy, New Jersey-based home studio The Cedar Room, this first-rate artist churns out playlist-perfect tracks EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I’ve covered three of Shane’s songs in the past—“Hollowbody Man,” “Been Alright,” and “I Hope You Never Call,” and grew so fond of the latter I included the track in my first book’s playlist. (Other artists from other locales have also mentioned this phenom in their interviews, so trust that the hype is real.)
In this latest installment, Indian Run’s nine-track album entitled Idk What Happens Next…, Shane encourages you to take a hard stock of your present, then shows you a wider lense to envision your future a bit differently. Maybe it’s the adventurous, barrier-breaking, experimental nature of Shane’s nearly-impossible-to-recreate compositions (you’ll soon learn all about) or the authentic emotions present when the right lyrics spill out unaltered and unscripted the very first time, but there’s something equally liberating and invigorating about it. And I can’t seem to stop listening to the whole repeat-worthy album, which is really an ideal sidekick to survive the holiday season and brighten the New Year with. (Listen while you read.) Don’t you DARE ask me to pick a favorite song, but I’ll gladly share my favorite sound (by far, the mesmerizing first minute of “Separate Lives”) AND some of my most-loved lyrics:
“This time is my only time.”
“Think about I’m losing all my sleep, think about it I’m senile seeing my dreams.”
—Give It Time
“We only want the hard way, looking for the easy way out.”
“If I stand up in the back, will they take my throne?”
“Everybody wants the light, but nobody wants the lime. Everybody wants the fire, nobody wants the smoke.”
—Back of My Head
In this interview, you’ll learn: how having a trusted team can change EVERYTHING; all about each of the nine repeat-worthy tracks on Idk What Happens Next…; the origin of the album’s well-dressed name; what’s been fueling Shane’s artistic drive; the story of the accidental sample; which two new synthesizers Shane recently added to The Cedar Room; how he utilized them to create some of the one-of-a-kind sounds you hear; what REALLY happened to Shane’s beloved ’84 Mercedes; which tracks he feels most attached to; what he perceives to be the greatest challenge facing indie artists today; where and when you can catch Indian Run’s next live performance; and all about the new, super-cool wearable merch and how to get yourself into it.
The conversation from our interview is chronicled below in a pure Q + A format.
Q + A:
How would you describe the meaning and sound of the album as a whole to someone who hasn’t heard any of your previous releases?
Shane: It’s very indie-alternative. You could almost say it’s experimental, but if you were to put it into words and not into a specific genre, I would say it’s more of a genuine thing that didn’t take a lot of thought process or overthinking. It just came out of me. I’m a big fan of Radiohead and Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), so I’d say it’s in that realm, mixed with another large influence, Kanye West, in the sense of the sampling world. (Basically, any part of this album that sounds like it was recorded in a trash can was inspired by Kanye’s vibe.)
I would agree with the experimental aspect—although I think that term has been SUPER broad lately. You create what you want to create, without letting genre barriers stop you. That’s how I see your brand of experimental. You’re not afraid to do things other artists might be afraid to do.
Is there a story behind the album’s well-dressed name?
Shane: It’s a funny story. Before the album was finished, I gathered a group of friends together, and prompted them to think about each song, and ask themselves, What can be better in this song? What can be changed? (I used a similar process with my last album, but this time I revised the process, because I thought it would be better to have the help BEFORE the album was completed.) I didn’t really have a track list. All I had was a bunch of songs I thought would work well together. I didn’t even have an album name yet, either.
During this session, a friend of mine—who often has a habit of opening his notes writing whatever comes to mind—managed to name six titles. “Idk What Happens Next…” was actually one of the titles he had written. Then, when I wrote all the suggested titles down in my notebook, it still stuck out the most. The reason I relate to it is that it’s where I feel like I’m currently at in life, in general. I’ve had other people hear it and think this might mean it’s my last album or the last time I plan on making music. It’s not a title about where I am at musically, but where I am at personally—a time where I’m not sure what the next things are that will happen in my life.
Can you tell us more about your trusted team?
Shane: Good question, I think the group definitely added to the album, and there are certain people I’d like to highlight. First of all, Danny Allebach, who lives near me in New Jersey, and his partner Mitchell Curley, who lives in Nashville, were just a HUGE, instrumental part of this. Their company Mora Music Management is much MORE than my management company. They’ve both become close friends that care about the music. Danny and Mitchell not only pushed me to make sure things get done, but they also served as a wall I could bounce things off.
That support and collaboration kept me from being stuck in my own head. If I felt a certain way, I could ask, “Hey, what do you think of this?” And that was something I never had before; or, maybe I had it, but it wasn’t people I felt close with, and I always wondered if they might just be saying stuff? (It was a group of people who didn’t have much stock in what I was showing them, so they never got too deep into the music.) I knew that Danny’s feedback was good for me, and his and Mitch’s contributions were vital to this album.
I also need to mention the choir in “Give it Time.” It was just a bunch of my friends sitting on my living room couch singing that song! I have a GREAT community of supportive friends.
Did you play the ENTIRE array of instruments on this new release or did you bring in any of your trusted artist friends to record some particular parts?
Shane: I did bring musicians in. Matt Whittle, Jonathon Chambers, Zach Ferdman, and Jeff Hughes were notable musicians who came in the studio for this record.
The last time I put an album out was four years ago, but starting around when I released “I Hope You Never Call”—around that time—you can tell there was a switch in sounds. I really got into the company Teenage Engineering; they’e a very good combination of music and art, and you should check them out! One of their instruments is the OP-Z, which I have. And then there’s another company, Critter & Guitari, that makes the Organelle. Much of what sounds like instruments on this new album is *actually* me using these two new synthesizers.
For example, in the beginning of “Separate Lives”—that part you like and guessed might be bagpipes—it was me plugging my guitar into the Organelle. (It’s a patch based off a guitar pedal where you can glitch sounds and randomize things.) I kept playing the guitar, and before I knew it, I had that loop. It was nothing I could ever recreate again, and that’s why I’m thankful the record button was on at that moment. (At some point I might do a video showing exactly how it came together.) It’s so cool how these specialized synthesizers create experiences that are never the same—experiences you’ll never hear again unless you’ve managed to record them.
Other than that, this album involved a lot of sampling. Picking things either from some of my favorite artists and making it sound like something you’ve never heard before OR just legitimately me putting my voice through some synthesizers to make it sound cool.
In “Stream of Consciousness” is that you playing the piano or is that a sample?
Shane: I’m not an incredible piano player, but on that song I DID play all the piano. (When it comes to “Heartdrop,” though, where it starts with the piano, and being sliced up and repeating and everything, THAT was a sample with a story I’ll get into a little later.)
Are you still crafting these sounds in your home studio, The Cedar Room? If so, how has that space evolved since we last spoke?
Shane: I recently just moved The Cedar Room to my new home. I really like the space I’m in now, despite that it’s definitely smaller than it was before. I didn’t get rid of anything, except for a bed and a couch. Because, before it was my bedroom, too. Now I can have people come over MY house, and not my parent’s house. There’s no longer any ‘let’s go through this room to get to that room.’ It’s just, ‘hey, let’s walk INTO the studio.’ Besides the physical move, the biggest change to The Cedar Room was the addition of the OP-Z and Organelle, the two synthesizers I mentioned earlier.
Let’s talk about the 9 tracks in detail. Tell us what you love most about each of them.
Shane: “Heartdrop” comes with a funny story. A friend of mine, Maison Guidry, who’s a well-known drummer, sent me a voice message with the crazy piano riffs you hear at the beginning of the song. I hit him up right after, texting, “Bro, that’s sick!” But he never replied. And I was like, Alright, I’m just going to sample this. For the longest time, I thought HE was the one that played it.
Later on, I said to him, “Dude, you killed this! I didn’t know you played piano like this.” And he grew confused, asking, “WHAT are you talking about?” I showed him “Heartdrop,” which I had already finished, and I said, “Check this out.” He responded, “This is dope, who’s playing?” And I was like, “Dude, you sent me this like a YEAR ago.”
Turns out my friend had recorded the voice message when he was in session with a decently famous jazz artist in New York City. It’s certainly a story you don’t come across all the time—an ACCIDENTAL sample.
“Slicer” was actually written for a website I work for full-time for called Soundstripe in Nashville. (The company provides a way for video makers and creators to license songs for their various projects by simply paying a monthly fee.) Besides being available on Soundstripe, I decided “Slicer” needed to be on this record, too. On the bridge, when you hear someone talking, it’s actually David Bowie from his song “Five Years.” I was looking for someone to almost give a monologue, and I had never heard the song before I used it. I thought it would be cool, because I could up-pitch the vocal and no one would know who it is. I had this idea when I was playing the bass in studio with a friend, and I just wrote it down and quickly voice memo-ed it. Most of the song is drum loops that just happened to work well on another sample someone had built into the synthesizer in a previous session. I recorded on top of the bass and threw guitars into it, and that’s why it sounds very vinyl-ish.
“Give It Time” has more of a meaning in itself. This song was the first released on the album—at that time I didn’t even know if it was going to be on the record. Regardless, many people have connected to it lyrically. After the song’s release, a friend reached out to me and relayed he’d just been through a break-up a year ago. (He had been with his girlfriend for seven years.) He said, “It’s tough, because I relate to ‘Give It Time’. It’s like, ‘I LOVE you, but I can’t HAVE you.’”
(That really isn’t what the song is about.)
It’s so tough to even name a meaning to my songs, because sometimes they’re written from the standpoint of a general sense. Like, I hope you *as a person* know that you are special. With this lyric, I wasn’t really talking about relationships; but it was the first line I wrote for the song. Along the way, I had some other people contribute their ideas, and I was eventually like, I guess it HAS to be a love song! That’s really the only other place I can go with it.
So, while in general, this track’s chorus is me speaking to us as humans, the verses talk more in a relationship sense. And the bridge really just ties everything together: “I’m better off not knowing where to go, ‘cause at least I can say I tried.” We’re all trying to go somewhere, and we have to be gracious toward people. We’re all just trying to go as life goes. Many of my songs are compartments of different ideas that come to a sum idea. I’m telling more a story of my entire mindset.
“Idk” is a COMPLETE jam. Nothing was written before you heard what you heard. I sat down in front of my OP-Z synthesizer and sampled a grand piano. I hit just a note, and reversed the piano. And every time I played it, it sounded different. I kept playing through some random chords and random melodies, pulled up a sheet of lyrics I wrote on a plane five years ago, sang through those lyrics through a little harmonizer vocal effect, and called it a day. There is ZERO meaning to “Idk” when it comes to cohesiveness, but it has a place in my heart because it’s just a stream of consciousness. None of it existed before that.
I’ve had SO many people ask me if “223” is ‘two-two-three’ or ‘two-twenty-three’. And I say it’s whatever YOU want to call it. The song itself—I’ll talk musically first and then about the meaning. The song was written off just a little bit; I didn’t have a vocal or anything. I thought, Okay, I have a decent melody. Let me sit down and just record this. I recorded a rough vocal, using a vocoder on top of my vocal—something that Francis and the Lights utilizes a lot. (The vocoder basically turns your vocal into the chords.) When I listened back, I realized, WHOA, I don’t think I need to redo this. This is the melody and the lyrics and everything. What you hear is both the first take and the FIRST thing I ever did on that song.
I’ll attempt to dissect the meaning. I think in our lives, we sometimes try to take the easy route, and we don’t realize that’s actually taking the hard way. We try to push through things and see if we can skip around the hard things, and think that should get us where we need to be. But I’ve found that sticking through things (and holding onto what seems like such a hard thing) really ends up being the easiest way—because you don’t have to deal with all the nonsense that happens if you’re forced to take three steps back.
“223” was more of a revelation on my life than anything else. I’m in New Jersey, where there aren’t many people around me making music like this. Don’t get me wrong, a couple hours away in New York and Philly, there are lots of artists, but none super close to where I live. Around me, I have lots of people asking how to get where I am. And you either have to be good at it or work at it. That’s why I see so many people trying to take the easy way out—by not working as hard, riding on someone else’s coattails, or not knowing which way is the right way to go.
Listening back, this track has a much heavier meaning than I realized while I was singing it. I have a big place in my heart for “223,” because it came together out of nowhere. When Danny first heard the song, he said, “Bro, that is a BANGER.”
“Stream of Consciousness” is another song written specifically for Soundstripe. I wrote it as a piano song people could use in interviews. When I was trying to finish the track listing for the album, I came across it again, and was like, Oh, shoot. This one is a heavy-hitter. The setlist tracking is weird, as it flows from “Idk”, “223”, and then “Stream of Consciousness,” the last in a trilogy of ALL stream of consciousness when it comes to the lyrics. These were all on the spot. I remember hearing an interview with Thom Yorke talking about his song “Dawn Chorus”—my favorite on the ANIMA album—he didn’t have any vocals, just a melody idea and one note, and he went to the mic and began singing. That’s when he used the term ‘stream of consciousness’ to describe it. I just kind of took it from there.
“Separate Lives” is supposed to be the break from where the album died down. It hits you in the face. Let me think through the lyrics again. This one was the hardest to write on the whole album. I just couldn’t figure out where it was supposed to go. You know that part where it goes down to a jam area? I did not expect it to go there at all. I did an ebow guitar to turn my guitar into an instrument that would play chords. When it comes to vocals and melodies on that song, it’s literally the only song that I think, Man, I just DON’T know what it’s about. I can’t even make up a meaning for it. Sometimes when I’m writing, certain melodies come to my mind and lyrics come along with those melodies. I kept hearing “We live our separate lives” over and over again. And I thought I might as well tell a story along the lines of living separate lives with someone. This one came together from just that line.
“Back Of My Head” is one of my favorites on this album. (If it wasn’t for “Heartdrop,” this track would be my absolute favorite on the record.) I’m kind of sad that “Back Of My Head” has the least amount of listens at this point. I mean, I’m just thinking people *should* be listening to it, because this one HITS. Lyrically, it’s the one I connect with the most. The song in itself is really a cry out, asking, ‘Why am I still where I’m at?’ It’s a story that begins with someone waking up, (‘the sundrop’), going through the day, and having normal experiences with everyone. That person grows utterly exhausted by an all-encompassing day of stresses.
In the bridge it says, “Everybody wants the light, but nobody wants the lime. Everybody wants the fire, but nobody wants the smoke.” And that is the ENTIRE meaning of the song for me. So many times, people want all the good things but none of the bad things connected with those good things. We all want the things that COME with popularity, but we don’t WANT the popularity after we experience it. We don’t want people in our business. I want people to realize the importance of being a good person to everybody. I think it’s cliché to say “Back Of My Head” is a song about relationships; it’s about so much more.
“Mold”, like the first track, comes with a story. Three years ago, I was invited to perform at a Halloween festival show with the local scene. Right outside Philly, I was rehearsing in a practice studio, playing with a bunch of my very talented friends who were in different bands. I kind of had to reign people in, and one night we had an all-out jam session. My friend Sean McCall was playing bass and my other friend Tyler Sarfert was playing drums. I didn’t tell them, but I began recording a voice memo.
Later, I took it home, learned the parts, recorded it, and then added that full house intro-sounding vocal part. I continued adding stuff upon it until the track became something I really loved. It’s funny, because I showed Sean and Tyler later, and they responded, “Bro, what?! We don’t remember making this.” And I said, “Yeah, but you DID.” I think the meaning of “Mold” is self-explanatory in its title. Don’t try to fit the mold of people around you. Be yourself, and be okay with that.
Did you write all the songs on the album around the same time or have you had a few of these in your pocket waiting for the right placement?
Shane: “Mold” might be the first one on the album that was written. If you consider the entire process, it would be a span of four years—only because “Mold” started four years ago. “Stream of Conciosuness” is the second oldest followed by “Heartdrop,” the third oldest of these songs. “Heartdrop” and “Slicer” came into being about 2½ years ago. “Give It Time”, “Idk”, “223”, and “Back Of My Head” were all written within a 3-month process, which ended this past July/beginning of August this year.
Recording and producing everything in-house lengthened that process, but it was such a FREEING thing. There were no initial plans to release this as a record. We were planning to release all of them as singles. But after “Been Alright”, “I Hope you Never Call” and “Give It Time” released as singles, I realized, I don’t like this single thing, I think these NEED to be a record. When I approached Danny with my thoughts, he said, “Dude. Let’s just do it, then.” We made the decision in May or June, and I worked really hard for the next three months, putting the album together until it was done.
With the lyric creation and musical composition for this album, did you follow a similar path as your previous releases or did you find and embrace some new practices?
Shane: For me, the lyrics have always been the hardest part. I always have, and still to this day, save the lyrics for last. I procrastinate, and the producer in me feels like I can’t do anything until it’s perfect. I mentioned this before, but it was really just me not overthinking it, getting in front of the microphone, hitting the record button, and letting it flow out and be whatever it’s going to be. “Give It Time” was the last song on this record where I experienced actual gruesome pain crafting the lyrics. After that, I was like, Man, I can’t keep doing this. I think maybe even “Heartdrop” was in that realm, too. I would seriously say sixty percent of this record involved getting in front of a microphone with the intention to re-record it later with new lyrics AND a combination of thinking, I’ve listened to this so many times, and I already love the way this sounds, so just let me keep it.
But the lyrics sound so spot-on, like you took lots of time crafting them and honing them. It’s funny to hear you say that the lyrics are most difficult for you, because from a listener’s standpoint, it just sounds so natural—like these are *obviously* the right lyrics.
Shane: Thank you, and that’s something I’ve actually learned from this: that it probably does just come natural to me. When I don’t overthink the situation, and I’m super free in the moment, it’s almost as if I’m more in the 4th quarter of the game, where we’re down by three and I need to hit that last shot. But it doesn’t feel like that then (because there’s no pressure), and I’m thinking, Let’s just vibe. That was a BIG change with this album—just letting things vibe.
Considering all your album and single releases to date, which track (or tracks if it’s impossible to select just one) do you currently feel most attached to?
Shane: I can answer this in a heartbeat. I feel SO attached to “Heartdrop”—it was the first time I had ever done anything like that before. It just possesses a vibe I’ve always wanted to create, but couldn’t grasp how to make it possible. The other one, if I had to pick another, is “I Hope You Never Call.” We had a rehearsal for a show I’m playing at the end of this month, and we played that song. Something about it hit me, and I finally realized why people really like the song. “I Hope You Never Call” has the most listens and the most popularity of all the songs I’ve ever released. The track has a MOOD I never truly grasped until I heard it live.
We heard the beloved ’84 Mercedes took its last ride not long ago. What happened?
Shane: I WISH it died, because I’d feel much better about the situation. When I traveled to LA, I left the Mercedes at my parent’s house. They live in a condo association, and they have parking spaces that are assigned to their house. I left the car in a space someone hadn’t parked in in years. When I flew back to New Jersey, I didn’t make a point to check on the car, since I figured it was just always going to be there. I wasn’t worried.
A week or two later, I *happened* to go to my parent’s place during the daylight (I usually only go at night), and I noticed, MY CAR’S NOT THERE!!! At first, I reported the car as stolen, feeling sad but thinking I’d at least get some money from insurance. Then, about three weeks later, as I was literally on my way to ship the car key out to my insurance company, the detective called me. He had finally located the car. It had been towed to a lot, and the lot owners never notified anyone it was there. I called my parent’s condo association about ten times, and no one ever called me back. Upon visiting the lot, I learned they wanted A TON of money for the car, since they’d had it for three weeks. In the end, I chose to sell them the car to cover the towing and storage fees.
Is this story too painful to be published?
Shane: No, if anything, it’s the BEST way the story can be told. To be honest, it was the perfect time to lose the car, since it happened right around the time I got my house and had to take care of everything that comes along with that. I would love you to tell people about this story.
What do you perceive to be the greatest challenge facing indie artists today?
Shane: The greatest challenge Danny and I have found in being an unknown indie artist is obvious—when people DON’T know who you are, it’s hard to get people to WANT to know who you are. Even when you have music you feel you can really go somewhere with, people are less likely to take the time and care about it, because, to them, it’s written by ‘a nobody.’ Even if it’s the best song people have ever heard, and they say, “Yeah, this is good, man!” They usually follow up with, “How much are you going to pay me?”
And I get that people need to be paid, but I wish people would think along the lines of, Hey, we’re helping DISCOVER an artist. And this indie artist doesn’t make as much money as those big guys. There’s a lot of indies that have made it by putting ALL their money towards it. But even when you do invest all your money in it, you can’t help but wonder, Is this going to amount to anything? Is it worthless?
I’ve learned the biggest benefit is the community around you. One thing that’s been especially helpful is I’ve been really big on the ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back’ concept. I saw a cool hat that says, “support your friends.” It made me think of how many times I ask friends for help or friends help me. Whenever someone helps me, I make sure to let them know I can help them by offering my specific skillsets. You know, I got you, because we are all here trying to get where we want to be. That’s been the caveat to the challenge, and where I’ve been able to save money—working with people by helping each other in return. It creates a good pile of things.
What’s been fueling your artistic drive lately?
Shane: For me, it’s been the constant, because I’m always in a creative setting. Every job I have right now is a creative job in a sense—both with my Soundstripe position and running the music at a church. At Soundstripe, I need to create six songs a month—that’s 72 composures a year! Six songs a month is a lot of songs. I’ve heard people say, “If you wanna be a good writer, you need to keep writing. If you wanna be a good sports player, you need to keep practicing.” Because I’m constantly creating, my mind has been be able to make the type of songs you’ve listened to and other people are listening to that I’ve released. And the ongoing cycle helps me get all the bad ideas out and focus on the things I really want to do.
What bands (local or otherwise) have you been crushing on the most this past year?
Shane: My favorite artist, hands down, is Bon Iver. I am still loving i,i, the new record they put out in September. The band’s been a big influence on me even with their previous releases. I’m listening to anything from Radiohead and anything from Francis and the Lights that came out recently. Other than that, I’ve really been loving the IGOR album by Tyler, The Creator. I don’t know how to describe it, but he’s a genius rapper. I’ve also been bumping Kanye and Post Malone lately. If I’m not listening to any of those artists, I’m listening to whatever my wife puts on. She loves Beyoncé. Everything influences.
I actually don’t listen to music a lot. I often want the songs I listen to to sound a certain way, and I sometimes find myself shuffling through songs to a frustrating point, where I end up just turning the music off.
Will you be playing any shows or releasing any music videos and/or merch to promote the new album?
Shane: My next show is THIS Friday, November 29th in Philly at Boot & Saddle with another artist you’ve covered, Lane Simkins, and Sharon Byrd. (Click here for event info + ticket purchase.) I’m also hoping to squeeze in a SoFar show sometime soon, so follow my socials for more updates on that.
We did make a GREAT music video for “Give It Time” three weeks after the song was released. We’re currently waiting for the right time to put that out.
As far as merch, I just did an awesome collaboration with my sister-in-law’s company @bloomsupplyco. We’ve made one-of-a-kind, hand-embroidered t-shirts—and I love them! I wrote the design you see on a piece of paper, and Madison Bersuch took it and ran with it. There’s only one of every shirt, since they are all upcycled unisex shirts. (Think: a little over-sized for a female and decent for males.) We will keep adding shirts to the site as people buy them. Click here to see ’em + support the new music!
Connect with Indian Run:
Listen to Idk What Happens Next… :
Read our other recent reviews and interviews with Indian Run:
“Indian Run Enchants with sweet and sour new single “I Hope You Never Call”
“Indian Run Levels Up With Introspective New Single ‘BEEN ALRIGHT’ ”
“Indian Run Talks ‘Hollowbody Man’, Gets Real About The Past, and Reveals What’s Next”
Photo by Lauren Gayeski