The Rebirth of Whimsical: an interview with Krissy VanderWoude

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Whimsical is currently a duo (Neil and Krissy), but was originally a Shoegaze / Dream Pop band from Northwest Indiana, active from 1999 until 2005. They released one demo CD, one full length album called “Setting Suns are Semi-Circles“ on Seraph Records, and one single. The band was 90% done with recording their 2nd full length album ”Sleep to Dream” in the beginning of ’05 when the band disbanded.   After recently putting the finishing touches on that album, of previously unreleased songs, it will finally be released in 2016 on Saint Marie Records.  Whimsical mostly played in Chicago and shared the stage with Kill Hannah and Mira at venues such as The Metro and Elbo Room. A wonderful new song “Surreal” was included on the 4th edition of Saint Marie’s “Static Waves” compilation in 2015.

 Members:
Krissy Vanderwoude -Vocals
Neil Burkdoll -Guitars, Sounds
(Mark Milliron -Guitars ’00-’05; Brian Booher -Bass ’02-’05; Andy Muntean -Drums’04-’05; Joe Santelik Bass ’99-’00;  Mike Bailey Bass ’00-’02; Tim Fogle Drums ’99-’04)

In addition to the upcoming release of “Sleep to Dream”, Whimsical is also going to release a free album on BandCamp which will be called “Brought to Light”. It will be updated over the next few months and will include some cover songs, as well as a few unreleased tracks. The project was kicked off with an outstanding, completely revised cover of Slowdive’s Dagger.

We have the honour next to present the new/single upload on Fadeawayradiate! 

Krissy: “This song is a new recording of our old song “Beautiful Virtue”. It was on our first album, but we always hated the recording of it, and 95% of the people out there have never heard it, so it will be new to many. 

Nico, of “Beatastic” (Beatastic Soundcloud Page ) has done an exclusive remix for Whimsical on “Beautiful Virtue” 

Short interview with vocalist Krissy Vanderwoude:

What caused you guys to start a shoegaze-type-of-band that late into the 90’s when shoegaze was assumed to be dead? Do you think there was some sort of movement still?

Krissy: “Neil and I love music so much, but the shoegaze/ dreampop genre of music is truly where our hearts were at, and have been, for so many years.  As far as where it all began, Neil had a shoegaze band from ’91-’95 and when that broke up, he kept writing new songs with a slightly more Dream Pop sound.  He approached me with the idea of using that material to start something new, and of course I was on board.  I started working on the vocals and he continued to write songs, but it wasn’t until the summer of ’99 that we were able to solidify a line up.  That is when Whimsical was officially brought to life.  While shoegaze was dying out, we still enjoyed it and there was never any question that this was the style of music we wanted to play.  We had always hoped it would have it’s resurgence at some point, but never did we expect it to be like it is today!”

As for the movement back then, perhaps we were just really fortunate in Chicago, because even into the early 2000’s, there was still a definite appreciation for shoegaze locally.  We had the legendary Scary Lady Sarah and DJ Philly Peroxide to thank for always showing so much support back then (and to this day).  They helped keep the local Chicago scene alive by hosting regular ethereal/shoegaze/dreampop nights in the city, that always drew large crowds and great feedback.  Our friend (and everyone’s favorite) Jeremy, of “Airiel”, was also actively writing music & playing shows in Chicago at that time, as well as bands like “Helen Stellar”, “Motorhome”, and “Kill Hannah” (to name a few).

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Why did you stop whilst in the process of finishing the 2nd album “ Sleep to Dream” ( that was 90% done)?

Krissy: “We stopped mainly because we were just really burnt out at that time and life was pulling us all in different directions.  We had a few line up changes and the songwriting process for the 2nd album took longer than expected. Neil had been playing in a few other bands and it seemed like his heart just wasn’t in this one anymore (and to be honest, we were all checked out at that time).  One day we just stopped recording and that was it.”

What did you guys do in the meantime?

Krissy: “We are all still the best of friends, so we definitely kept in touch over the years.  As far as music is concerned, Neil put out albums with a few different bands through the years, like Fatalist, P.O.O.R., Dirty Dead, etc. Mark, Brian, and Andy all just made music with some friends, but nothing serious, and I just continued to appreciate music on the sidelines”. 

Who thought of a restart in 2015 when shoegaze was at the height of its revival?

Krissy: “There was honestly never a plan to do anything in the future, so the fact that this is all happening again for us is truly a dream come true.  Neil had lost track of the hard drive that had the “Sleep to Dream” album on it for around 10 years.  In the spring of 2015, Neil found it again and was able to listen to what was originally done on the album.  He had contacted all of us that were a part of that album and told us his ideas about finishing it (as it was only 90% done) and discussed possibly putting it out in some way.   Having not heard these songs for over 10 years, listening back for the first time was a surreal experience for us. We were able to listen with a fresh perspective, and we were so proud of what we had done.  We really wanted to find a way to release this, but never imagined we’d actually be signed.  One thing led to another and we were signed to Saint Marie Records for “Sleep to Dream”, as well as a 3rd album.  The whole shoegaze revival was not even a determining factor.  However, it is pretty amazing that the timing of this all falls during a time when shoegaze music is reaching new heights and being so celebrated again.”

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I knew about the awaited reissue on Saint Marie but the new stuff is a bit of a surprise and very exciting! You guys seem to have grown personally but also musically.  Don’t get me wrong, the reissues are great but the new stuff is ace! Was that already in the planning?

Krissy:  “In addition to all of the previously unreleased songs that you’ll be hearing on “Sleep to Dream”, Saint Marie wanted to sign us for a 3rd album as well.  Neil and I knew that we would have to work on new songs & were excited about writing and collaborating again.  Neil still had song ideas for several of our previously unreleased songs and is always writing new songs, so we had a great “vault” to start drawing from.  We decided to work on a free album (outside of the SMR releases) that will be called “Brought to Light”.  We are using this album as a way for us to figure out how to make this process work & perfect it, before working on our 3rd album for SMR.  Neil now lives in southern California, and I’m still in Indiana.  We had to set up our home studios and get a system down that worked with just the two of us.  We decided to record 5 cover songs and 3 old songs that were never recorded in the past.  Neil has actually written a completely new song that is very different from our past works, and I’m writing the vocals for that now.  We cannot believe the overwhelming amount of support that we have already been receiving!  We’re so excited to see what the future holds and are incredibly grateful to people like you, who are helping share our music with the world around us. <3

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