Madison-based band Neens calls their music experimental dream goth pop. Singer Shane Quella formed the band after discovering the songwriting power of looping while in Arizona.
“I never was that good at a certain instrument,” says Quella. “I was just trying to come up with how I could be my own band and the loop pedal is what did it.”
Quella was a jock growing up with little interest in playing an instrument. His step-mother taught piano lessons so he always had music in the house. Only later did Quella start to play music himself.
He began writing songs based on a simple beat, striving for minimalism. The loop pedal also helped Quella come up with a name for the band.
“Neens the name means uses and abuses technology,” says Quella. “So it kind of fit.”
His bandmates fill out the space around his looping melodies. He records each part live on stage, which opens up the potential for error if he hits the wrong note or forgets a part.
“I’m going to mess up,” says Quella. “People should appreciate that I’m doing something raw.”
Quella is inspired by music and fashion from the 1980s, which he sees as futuristic despite being decades old. He loves the era so much that Neens made a video that recreated the end scene of the 1986 John Hughes movie classic “Pretty In Pink.”
“It started because I’d play my songs with old 80s overdubbing and watching vidoes to the music to see if it fits. We just took that concept and redid that,” explains Quella.
Creativity infuses nearly all parts of Quella’s life. He teaches art to kids and likes to surround himself with artists.
“It’s hard to divide my work life and art,” says Quella. “I’m a maker. I want to be creative and live that sort of life.”
This story was produced in partnership with Set List, WPR’s summer music series.