Shiffley's Alex Ganes Talks Craigslist & Breaking Ceilings—Literally.

shiffley interview suburban rose magazine

New York-based band Shiffley is made up of Alex Ganes (vocals, guitar), Alex Jenks (keys), Shaune Killough (bass), and Bryan Contreras (drums). I first heard their music about a year ago when I reached the end of a playlist and Spotify shuffled through its similar artists algorithm. “Systems,” the first single from their debut album, took me straightaway: I loved the retro-sounding synths first and then the deep bass and then all of it at once. Paper Craneswhich was released in February of this year, is laid back and fun. Though each one is completely different, its tracks come seamlessly into one another, and the sound is overall consistent and exactly what I believe to define the band itself. I was able to chat with lead singer Alex Ganes about the band's origins and its artistry.

Suburban Rose: For introduction purposes, can we talk a little bit about Craigslist?

Alex Ganes: We all went to the same high school except for our bassist, so we all knew each other just from being in the same town. And then, as was customary back then, you find bandmates on Craigslist.

SR: Of course.

AG: We put up an ad. We were a metal band at the time—we weren’t Shiffley [yet], and we were playing metal music, as most angsty high schoolers do—and we happened to find Shaune. He was accompanied to his audition by his parents, I remember. [laughs] We reconnected later on [to form Shiffley], and at that point he was a really close friend of ours.

SR: It’s a good coming together. And from Craigslist—there’s this guy on Twitter, and this isn’t the same thing because it’s a joke, but he puts up these mock ads. There’s this one where he’s looking to start a band but he can’t play any instruments so his selling point is that he hums on his mixtape. But then there’s like, “looking for someone to help me peel bananas.”

AG: Oh my God.

SR: It’s wild. It’s great. Anyway, I read about Shiffley as a comic cartoon character. Can you tell me about that?

AG: The other thing I like doing outside of music is drawing comics. I have this little comic world centered around this guy named Wrath, who’s a foil for me, I guess. One of the minor characters in this comic world is a sleazy salesman named Shiffley, and that’s sort of how we got the band name. We were sleazy salesmen of music.

SR: And so the comics on your guys’ Instagram—that’s all you?

AG: Yeah, that’s me.

SR: And the cover art for the singles and album? Is that you guys as well or someone outside of the band?

AG: No, that’s just friends of ours. We like their stuff, but in the future, we’re definitely looking toward making the comics a more integral part of the Shiffley experience.

Tyler Poyant's process creating Paper Cranes

SR: Yeah, I get that. I love all of it.

AG: Thank you.

SR: I mean, and even with the art for Paper Cranes, I think it's great because it’s so simple. It fits really well. I especially like minimalist illustrations because otherwise it gets too busy and sometimes it’s too much.

AG: Yeah, same. We had a few releases to test out things, so we did three EPs—two on the record, one off—leading up to this album, just to make sure we got our eggs in a basket, if that’s—eggs in a line? What’s the expression?

SR: Uh—

AG: —ducks! Ducks in a line! Eggs in a basket. Making sure we had our ducks in a line going into an album. So, like, for our first EP, our album art was all over the place. It’s all trial and error. I was looking on iTunes, realizing I couldn’t read any of that. And then that mentality, I guess, goes into the music too: the arranging, the writing, everything.

SR: Do you all write collaboratively? Or does someone do the bulk of it by themselves and then you come together after?

AG: I would say that I come to the table with the song already playable in some form. And then we all put our footprint on it in the arranging, just adding our specialty.

SR: You guys have full control over all of it.

AG: At this point, yes, luckily.


SR: It’s nice just working at your own pace and doing your own thing, especially when labels come in and start taking over. If you were to be signed, who would you want to be with? In—not an ideal world, necessarily, but just thinking about other [bands].

AG: At this point, I think if we were to be signed, I’d love to just be with someone small who gets what we’re about and is able to spend that time with us. I don’t think it’s necessarily feasible for us to look for someone big. That being said, if we were to look for someone big, Glassnote. I love all the artists on it. Fueled by Ramen isn’t really our music, but I like the label.

SR: Those are both great. Plus, there are a lot of indie labels and people who work super hard on themselves but also on other artists and I have so much respect for them. There’s this artist from Brooklyn, pronoun, and she’s—

AG: Oh, we know pronoun. We used to have the same distributor.

SR: Yeah, so she’s got her own label, and she’s great, and I feel like she works so incredibly hard. I also saw her at a house show last year. It was weird. She was great, but house shows are just bizarre to me.

AG: Why do you say house shows are bizarre?

SR: Um, I don’t—I feel like if you’re at a venue, at least it’s this public thing. But it’s way more intimate at a house show because I almost don’t know how to move in some stranger’s space. Like you’re intruding.

AG: Definitely feels that way to play there, too. Always afraid we’re gonna break something. We once broke someone’s floor and subsequently someone else’s ceiling.

SR: Oh my gosh. That doesn’t sound like it’s your fault, though. That’s just poor architectural work.

AG: Yeah, they didn’t blame us, but we couldn’t help but feel the blame.

SR: So, that’s all I have. Is there anything else you want to say?

AG: It’s a cool energy right now at the Shiffley house; we all live together. We’re just grinding away trying to keep Paper Cranes relevant and just mapping out this time in between where we’re aggressively writing what’s to come. We’re all really excited about that, too.


You can find Shiffley on Twitter and Instagram (@_shiffley). Paper Cranes is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all your other usual streaming services.


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