Words by Jasmine Bourgeois
Photo courtesy Future Silence
Filled with dreamy lo-fi tunes and retro sci-fi energy, the self-titled debut EP from Chicago’s Future Silence is a delight from start to finish. Made up of Kirk McMahon (Slow Thrills), Shannon Roberts (STAR, Modern Tyranny), and Rosie Schubert, the chemistry brewing on this EP is palpable; the complexity and confident exploration of sound they achieve in each track feels effortless.
Future Silence ebbs between bedroom pop and electro-influenced punk. Though there’s an eclecticism to their sound, it all plays together with smoothness. Each track adds its own texture to the whole piece. This debut highlights the trio’s impressive artistry — this is a debut that leaves you thirsty for what’s next.
Tom Tom talked with Future Silence about their EP, the Chicago scene, and some of their influences.
TTM: The songs on this EP are all really melodic and poppy, but there’s a bite to it — something about it that feels a little more raw than other stuff I’ve heard in the general genre y’all play in. Can you tell me more about the writing process?
Kirk: The songs are pretty much all written through home recordings that we exchange, sometimes recorded on trains or when we’re at work. I’ll usually start by recording instrumental tracks in whatever genre strikes me at the moment. The tracks are sometimes more rock oriented, sometimes more synthesizer based, and sometimes more experimental and weird. Shannon will then record vocals over a bunch of the tracks which really fill things the songs out, she has a talent for being able to come up with great melodies over pretty much any kind of instrumental sound. Once Rosie comes in on drums and we add some guitars it brings a sense of cohesion to the sound, but in a way where no two songs sounds that similar, which we like.
Lots of talented folks come out of Chicago all the time. From an insider perspective, can you tell me a little more about what the DIY music community is like?
Shannon: The music scene here is really vast and varied. I feel like Randy Records is the perfect example of just one tiny slice of Chicago’s DIY scene as far as labels. So many great bands on there. And it feels like I’m always finding some new band here that I think is great that disappears forever after a couple shows. Sometimes it can be hard to separate Chicago’s incredible art scene from the music scene.They are so intertwined. Chicago has always been a really creative city so it’s great to make music here. There are so many funny people who are smart and weird and work hard here.
I appreciate the range of sounds and styles you played with in this. Who or what were some of the influences on this album? Is there another genre or style you want to try out more moving forward?
Kirk: While we have a central theme of indie and dream pop, our influences are pretty varied and I don’t think we really sound like any one of our favorites. In general I think we’re influenced by anything that’s really drenched in reverb. And we all really like Depeche Mode but we don’t really sound anything like them.
We’ve already started recording tracks for our next record and the new songs stray a little further genre-wise. There’s a weird almost post-punk track with mallet instruments, and some really minimalist tracks, as well as some stuff that continues in the dream pop vein. It’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out.
Rosie — you have a really meditative drumming style. It’s super clean but playful. Who are some of your drumming influences?
Rosie: It’s super clean because Kirk’s programming is really my only drumming influence. I picked up drums about a month before I met Kirk, and I basically asked, “Will you let me try to drum for you?”.
I was always a guitar player in bands prior to that, so I figured I could do that or keys for him if my drumming was too horrible. But it ended up working out. I try to take what he has programmed and add to it to in my own way without ruining the feel of the song.
What’s coming up next for y’all? Any shows, tours, videos in the works?
Shannon : A new video in the next couple of months and we’re recording more music now.