Winter tells us about the influences behind her shoegazy new album ‘What Kind of Blue Are You?’
Winter, aka dream-pop artist Samira Winter, is not shy about the musical influences behind her terrific new album What Kind of Blue Are You? -- a mix of '80s/'90s shoegaze and indie which she wears like a badge of honor. She also uses them to color her excellent songs, not relying on mere pastiche. We asked her to run through some of the album's biggest influences, which include some obvious ones (My Bloody Valentine, The Sundays), as well as a few things that you might not expect. Read her annotated list and give the album a spin below.
WINTER - 10 INFLUENCES BEHIND 'HOW BLUE ARE YOU?'
Blueboy - "Boys Don’t Matter"
One of the first songs we recorded for the album was the opening track “wish I knew.” The demo I brought into the studio was really shoegaze and as we brainstormed on the production, Joo Joo was like “wait I need to show you this Blueboy song” and played this track. I gasped and my heart melted. I have such a sweet spot for Sarah Records especially because it was all I listened to as I started Winter back when I lived in Boston. To me it’s an extra dose of nostalgia. We took this track as inspiration and went on to find lush acoustic guitar sounds. Reconnecting with Blueboy and that twee Sarah Records sensibility is one of the ways this album feels full circle to me.
I became obsessed with Araki’s films from the 90’s and early 2000’s while I was writing and recording the album in 2020. The aesthetics are so spot on - from the shoegaze soundtracks to the blasé dialogue to the wardrobe style and incredible set design. The attitude of the characters is so cool. I feel like I learned from those 90s queer shoegazer characters and leaned in on their punk attitude when tracking loud feedback guitars and filming the music video for “atonement” which is all shot on DV tape as Hatchie and I play runaways in Hollywood.
Just before the lockdown, I played a show at Market Hotel and that night I fell in love. He worked at that venue so whenever I would come visit NY I would hang out there to kill time. There’s this really cool window behind the stage where you can see the train tracks. It was such a romantic time in my life and the grungy Brooklyn streets were our playground. At the same time I have an intense love-hate relationship with the city and so it always triggers all sorts of feelings. I wrote the song ‘mr. on-my-mind’ around that time inspired by that feeling of a new love and feeling lost in the city. Even though I wrote the whole album in LA, I feel like if the album was the soundtrack to a film it would all be shot in a northern East Coast city during the fall - it’s the perfect scenery to listen to the album in my opinion.
Juliette Blue/Shadow Girl
Juliette Blue/Shadow girl is a character that came out during this record cycle. Here is a poem about her:
“What kind of blue are you?”
Juliette Blue whispers into the sky
As white sparkles float around her eyes
She senses mystery in the air;
an in-cling all her life
hand on window
pretending it was a key
She gathers up seashells
and brings them close to her ears
Even when she sleeps
she’s still listening
My Bloody Valentine - Isn’t Anything
This might sound cheesy but My Bloody Valentine is one of my favorite bands. This album is so good and specifically the second half of it was really influential to us. Tracks like “Sueisfine” and “You Never Should” were a guideline to the more shoegaze-pop songs off the album with all the drum fills and whammy guitars.
Hilma Af Klint
Hilma Af Klint’s story and art propelled me into abstract art and painting. She was a Swedish painter from the late 1800’s who was commissioned by one of her spirit guides during a seance to make a series of paintings which later became recognized as some of the earliest works of abstract art yet was only discovered 100 years later after she passed away. That whole year I was obsessed with her and loved painting so much that I almost quit music to study it. Paint inevitably became one of the visual themes for the album.
The Pastels - Nothing To Be Done
One of my favorite songs of all time! The fuzzy guitars and tape textures were influential to me especially for songs like “write it out” and “mr. on-my-mind.” I frequently tracked vocals in complete darkness and sometimes when I closed my eyes I imagined I was singing a Pastels song.
Around the time I was mixing the album I started experiencing really bad pain in my left arm from playing guitar in an incorrect posture over several years. The only way I was able to find relief was to stop playing guitar, go through physical therapy and swimming. Luckily there was a public indoor pool close to where I lived at the time so I would go almost every day to swim and listen to the mixes on my walk back. There was something really healing about staring into the blue everyday and noticing the details of the sun's prismatic reflections in the deep end.
The Sundays- “Here’s Where The Story Ends”
It started as a joke but then we actually named my track ‘sunday’ after The Sundays. They are definitely a huge influence on the track with that style of drum beat and jangly acoustic guitars. There are a handful of songs that I can always go back to and feel like they are my north star. “Here’s Where The Story Ends” is one of them. It gives me this bittersweet feeling of sadness and beauty all at once, like you’re driving away from the house you grew up in and seeing it in slow-motion.
I would say I’m a stoner at heart even though I go through long periods of not smoking. While recording the album we would strategically take smoke breaks right as we reached the point of needing some perspective on the track we were working on. We would sit outside, roll thin spliffs that were thin enough to get a little bit stoned but knowing it wouldn’t last too long. It allowed us to take a break and then come into the studio and get really hyped on the track we were working on. It was really fun and l felt like I was a kid again getting excited about my songs.
WINTER - 2022 TOUR DATES
Oct 22 - Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon #$Oct 28 - Chicago, IL @ Hideout #
Oct 29 - Lakewood, OH @ Mahall’s *
Oct 30 - Toronto, ON @ Drake Underground #
Oct 31 - Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo #
Nov 1 - Boston, MA @ Lilypad #
Nov 3 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong #
Nov 4 - Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right #
Nov 5 - Philadelphia, PA @ Ukie Club #
# support from Peel Dream Magazine
$ support from Dummy
* supporting Panchiko