Interview: The Shadowboxers talk working with Justin Timberlake and their love of pop music
The Shadowboxers

Ask what music The Shadowboxers had on their playlist growing up and they’ll tell you they listened to everything from Michael Jackson to Paul Simon. The trio, made up of Scott Tyler, Matt Lipkins and Adam Hoffman, now mixes their own playful harmonies with assorted sounds of pop and funk - which is likely what first piqued the interest of megastar, Justin Timberlake.  

Joined by bassist Carlos Enamorado and drummer Cole McSween, the group is currently signed to Timberlake’s Villa 40 artist development company. They’ve been busy lately, writing and recording with Timberlake and Israeli songwriter/producer, K-Kov. In September, the Nashville-based quintet put out a new single called “Hot Damn!” and the reaction, as you would expect, has been electric.

It was The Shadowboxers’ cover of Timberlake’s own “Pusher Love Girl” that initially put them on the pop sensation’s radar. “The reason we did the cover in the first place is because we were huge fans of his,” Matt explained during a recent interview with AXS. Once Justin heard the song, he reached out over Twitter. “We met with him a few weeks later when he was on the 20/20 tour. It’s pretty crazy that three years later, we were opening for him at the Formula 1 Grand Prix.”

“Obviously, that was awesome for many reasons,” Adam added. “The coolest thing for us was that if we could have picked anyone alive today we would legitimately want to collaborate with creatively, it would be him.”

Scott tells AXS they wouldn’t have even written “Hot Damn!” before meeting Justin. “We wouldn’t have been comfortable putting our flag in the ground that way before. It seems sort of like an identity song for us at this point in our career,” he said.

The boys credit the former NSYNC star with helping them find confidence and guiding them to take ownership in what they do. As artists, they now make much bolder decisions when it comes to songwriting as well as performing.

Prior to their time with Timberlake, The Shadowboxers toured with the Indigo Girls. Thanks to a serendipitous meeting with Emily Saliers at a Passover Seder, they would end up getting to share their sound with a whole new audience. In 2011, after graduating college, the boys found themselves playing with the iconic folk duo in amphitheaters all over the country, reaching a wide range of fans.

Nine years of singing together, blending musical genres and their own individual voices to create one cohesive unique sound, has led them to find their place in the world of music. “Hot Damn!” has already racked up millions of streams on Spotify. The fun, dance-worthy tune is a product of all their influences and a good sign that things are only now starting to heat up.

“We’ve always said in the beginning, and it wasn’t cool to say, but we love pop music,” Matt tells AXS. “We want to play pop music. It’s called pop music because it’s popular music. That says nothing of the quality of it. We’ve always tried to make music that anyone can just listen to and enjoy. If you want to dig deeper, there will be layers there for you to discover. That’s something we strive for in every single song we write.”

The Shadowboxers are currently finishing up their tour. You can get tickets here at AXS to see them at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, on Friday, Nov. 10. They’ll be at The Bowery Ballroom in New York on Nov. 11, and you can catch them in D.C. at the U Street Music Hall on Nov. 12.

Be on the lookout for new music and some incredible live shows coming in 2018. You can stay up-to-date with the band over at their website.