a Q&A with Ugly Kids Club

Nashville, TN’s Ugly Kids Club will be releasing a series of 6 singles with accompanying videos over the course of this year. I spoke with the duo of Steve Wilson and Aleigh Shields after the release of their second single from the series, “Magical,” which coincidentally reminded me a lot of Shiny Toy Guns.

After the release of their second single, I spoke with Wilson and Shields about the band’s history, their influences, their writing process and more. 

WRH: How did you both get into music? 

SW: I started playing guitar at 13, when my Grandpa gave me his old Silvertone.  I took guitar lessons until I figured out that I just wanted to write songs and not shred.  So I quit and taught myself how to write and play.  

AS: I grew up doing music in church and school. [I] taught my self how to play guitar a bit in high school. I moved to Nashville to pursue music and have gone through a few solo projects. 

WRH: How did you two meet? 

SW: I played in a band a few years back with Aliegh’s brother.  I met her when we stayed at her parents house touring through Illinois.

WRH: Who are your influences? And who are you listening to now? 

SW and AS: Really into Crystal Castles, M83, the Police, Tears for Fears, Twin Shadow, Depeche Mode, The Cure.

WRH: How would you describe your sound? 

SW: If Andy Warhol and the Kills started an electronic rock band in outer space.   

WRH: How did you come up with your name? Did you ever consider going with another name? 

AS: It came from a joke actually.  A friend and I were going back and forth making up the worst band names possible.  I threw Ugly Kids Club out and actually kind of liked it for what Steve and I are were starting to do with our music.  We describe it as the ugly kids in school who actually grow up with something to give the world.   

WRH: I understand that you two have different backgrounds – Steve Wilson is a Grammy nominated producer and songwriter and Aliegh Shields grew up on stage, and is a self-taught guitarist and singer. So how have your backgrounds informed your music and how do they inform your writing process? 

SW: I write and produce music full time.  I have been fortunate to be helping other people write and record music for several years now.   But if i’m being honest, it’s always my own music that I am most proud of, and get the most excited about.  When Aliegh and I write and create, she challenges me in ways I couldn’t do myself, to veer from some of my default methods and approaches so we can arrive somewhere more unique with our music and art.  

AS: I’ve been writing for quite a while but when I started writing with Steve is when I really feel like I came into my own. I’ve learned a lot about what I like and how to process each step in the best way with Steve. Fortunately, with Steve’s experience and my hunger to do things out of the ordinary have pushed us in some really cool directions.