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Monday, October 18, 2021

Don’t make him choose: Shane Malone releases ‘Split In Two’

The Jacksonville-based indie rocker pits his artistic aspirations against his professional pursuits in his latest single

Graphic by Alex Brown
Graphic by Alex Brown

He’s no Hannah Montana, but Shane Malone knows a thing or two about leading a double life.

Not only is he a 20-year-old UF computer science junior, but he’s also a burgeoning indie musician. Dividing his time between the two, he’s spent the past two years taking on the dual role of student and local celebrity.

The lines of Malone’s passion and profession run parallel for now, but they threaten to intersect more with each passing day. Soon, he’ll have to choose between putting aside music for a career in computer science or pursuing his art full time — a choice he grapples with on his new single “Split In Two,” released July 30. On it, Malone longs to continue down both paths over a bright indie rock soundscape, yearning for a reality that lets him exist as two different people.

Malone started releasing music in 2019 and has become something of an overnight success, skyrocketing to over 808,000 thousand likes on TikTok and over 110,000 streams on Spotify. “Split In Two” adds to a handful of singles and EPs he’s released since then.

Malone started writing “Split In Two” in November 2020, as final exams for the Fall semester approached. Faced with another milestone in his college career, Malone started reflecting on one of his most frequent song subjects.

“One of my favorite things to write about, because it’s just so consuming in my every day and in my thoughts, is just time,” he said, “the unrelenting continuum of time and how it’s the most precious resource.”  

The result of that writing was a dissection of his personal dichotomy — the split between his academic and artistic sides and how he feels torn trying to pursue both.

Though Malone wrote the song based on his own experiences, he said it’s something college students in general will relate to. 

“It’s the crisis of our generation,” he said.

Malone worked on “Split In Two” with Taylor Neal, Clay Dixon and Brian Lester, and the cover art was made by Matilda Phan. Malone said he's found a strong support system of fellow musicians. All of the contributors, besides Gainesville’s Dixon, are artists from Malone’s hometown of Jacksonville.

Neal, the track’s producer, collaborated with Malone remotely, but despite the distance, he said their musical ideas blended seamlessly.

“I feel like we both had a common idea for the end goal, and we were able to communicate those ideas together through his music,” Neal said.

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Neal and Malone worked on several demos over the past year, with Neal putting the final tweaks and touches on Malone’s concepts. Praising Malone’s creativity and work ethic, Neal said the collaboration came easy.

“Shane is really passionate and motivated when it comes to his music,” he said. “I also really like his sound.”

Sonically, “Split In Two” continues with the indie instrumentals Malone utilizes on earlier releases like “Ants” and “Right Time”. The track is built on a plucky bassline, clean guitar chords and a brisk backbeat from the snare and kick drums. It’s comparable to artists like Dayglow and Peach Pit, and Malone’s lower vocal register is reminiscent of Wallows’ lead singer Dylan Minnette.

But despite the brighter soundscape, “Split In Two” is lyrically somber and contemplative. Malone’s writing on the track leans toward an abstract angle, pulling from songwriters like Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and Mac DeMarco, as well as some of the darker ideas from groups like Death Grips.

“Born with the bulls next to Gemini skies,” he croons in the first verse, representing not only his Taurus zodiac sign but also the idea of dichotomy that dominates the song.

“I was really trying to hone in on an intentional narrative,” he said.

Amid his continuing musical and lyrical development, Malone said he’s beginning to take his artistic aspirations more seriously. He’s gearing up for more shows around Florida in the next year, and an EP with all new material is in the works.

His computer science career goals remain intact, as he’s currently a software engineering intern. But Malone said he’s not willing to give up on music just yet, especially as he continues to find success.

While “Split In Two” reinforces his personal desire to continue the double life, Malone said he hopes anyone listening is inspired to pursue their dreams before time runs out.

“Be smart about it, but you can’t die with regret.” 

 Contact Heather at hbushman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.

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