Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Autograffiti” by Victor Shade from the 2010 self-titled self-released album.
The name Victor Shade has always been a cover. Whether it was the name of an actual window covering manufacturer, the alter ego of Marvel Comics superhero The Vision, or the current performing name of Seattle’s Ryan Abeo. KEXP listeners know Abeo well by his other alias, Ra Scion, one half of the hip-hop duo Common Market. This time, rather than working with Sabzi of Blue Scholars, Abeo has chosen beat producer Matthew Crabtree, aka MTK, whose self-described “aggressive” style adds a different vibe to this project.
The name Victor Shade was literally given to Abeo from his comic collecting brother-in-law Jimmy, who, before he passed away, gave all of his friends and family members superhero identities. In adopting Victor Shade, Abeo goes so far now as to don a cape onstage. As Abeo told Travis Hay of Ear Candy:
Ultimately it is about an identity struggle. You have the alter ego of the super hero which is Victor Shade and you have the superhero which is The Vision... With great power comes great responsibility and at some point and time you say you don’t want that responsibility, you just want to be a regular dude. You don’t want to be The Vision; you just want to be Victor Shade. So it’s about that internal struggle.
But whatever Abeo’s own struggles with identity might be, he is without a doubt confident in his wordslinging under any moniker. His Victor Shade album is full of the same charged lyrics, quick rhymes, and evocative imagery you’d expect from any of his projects, as on today’s Song of the Day, “Autograffiti.”
So far, there are no dates scheduled for Victor Shade on their website, but you can go back and listen to their in-studio performance on KEXP’s Street Sounds with Larry Mizell, Jr., right here. And check out the video for “Soothsayer,” in which Victor Shade continues to develop the superhero theme: