Dan Vidmar, who quit his Pennsylvania bar band Lemon Soul and moved to Portland a few years ago, was content to home-record music alone under the moniker Shy Girls.
Shy Girls’ new debut album “Salt” has delicate, piano-based ballads (“Time,” “Trivial Motion,” “I Am Only a Man”) that explore the inner changes his cross-country move entailed.
“In Portland, I sort of began my life as an adult, and discovered what it meant to be me, a mid-twenty-something in a hip new area, I was definitely in a mindset of ‘So, what’s next?’” says the composer, who appears at the Independent this weekend.
Yet Vidmar, who acquired his nickname from friends who likened his feathery singing voice to that of a shy girl, no longer believes that too many cooks spoil the broth.
Over the past year, he’s been regularly flying down to Los Angeles, where he’s found entrée into an elite music community he barely knew existed before.
“I’ve been doing production for a bunch of indie artists, and doing some writing with bigger pop artists, ones that I’m not even allowed to talk about,” he says. “It’s been a nice reprieve from taking myself too seriously.”
Most of Vidmar’s secret co-writes will get released this year, he hopes. But there are no guarantees.
He had to get used to collaborating.
“For so long, I did everything myself, 100 percent,” he says. “So it was like, ‘Well, at some point I need to make some musical friends and work with other people.’ And it’s been a great experience doing that — seeing another artist’s vision and just making good music that doesn’t have to be exactly what I want to say, but what someone else wants to say.”
He met his collaborators through old-fashioned networking, with exploratory trips to Hollywood in which one chance handshake at a show biz party could lead to assignments, often via Twitter.
The more sessions he joined, the more he learned about the arcane art of songwriting.
“Somebody told me, ‘If you’re writing a pop song and you don’t get to the chorus by 40 seconds, it will never play on radio.’ It was something I’d never considered,” he says.
After his initial diversion in Los Angeles wasn’t going too well, Vidmar decided to strip the songs on “Salt” back even further than Shy Girls’ skeletal 2015 mixtape, “4WZ.”
He say, “I wanted to make something that felt really honest, with no pretension –something raw and naked and timeless. I wasn’t trying to put forth some new sound.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Jan. 27
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.comDan VidmarLemon SoulPop MusicPortlandSaltShy GirlsTrivial Motion