On the surface, the Brooklyn-based band by way of India, Semaphore, seems much like any other shoegaze band: they’re loud, atmospheric, and very, very moody. “We know we’re a bunch of sad boys singing for sad boys,” acknowledges Anandalingam, “but there’s a disaffectedness to a lot of shoegaze, an instinct to contribute to a collective droning, that Semaphore resists. We’re not trying to glorify numbness. We want to actually reach our audience.” This longing to connect underpins Semaphore’s work, lending an urgency to the band’s perspective, sound, and approach.
Founded in 2013 by Anandalingam, Semaphore released its first album, All Too Robot, in 2016, establishing the band’s scene-bending fusion of shoegaze, post-hardcore, and impressionist classical music. “It’s somewhere between My Bloody Valentine, Glassjaw, and Debussy, with a top note of angry teenage boy.” Their forthcoming release, I Need a Reason to Stay, develops and complicates that premise: “So much of the music made for young people is very blunt and on its face. Our mission is to take the music that was foundational to us as both people and artists and evolve it into something sophisticated and inviting.” Semaphore’s unique sound luxuriates in the shifting tonalities, airy melodies, and lush orchestration of their greatest musical influences, incorporating songcraft and vocals in a decidedly un-shoegazey way. “It’s the music I would have wanted to listen to in high school.”