Warpaint is an experimental art rock group from Los Angeles formed in 2004. The group has gone through many line-up changes, including actress Shannyn Sossamon and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. The personnel who played on their debut album The Fool were Emily Kokal (vocals/guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals/guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bassist/vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums/keyboards).
According to Wayman, it was the darker aspects of LA that inspired a lot of the writing on The Fool including this song. She told Q magazine: "'Shadows was me being confused about why you live in a place so surrounded by concrete streets. There's always a sound happening here. Always helicopters or car stereos and a fair amount of violence on the streets. We witnessed a cyclist in front of my old house get killed, and there was a white ghost bike there for some time after. That kind of darkness you can feel sometimes."
Wayman discussed Warpaint's songwriting process in an interview with American Songwriter magazine. She explained that some tracks originate from a band member bringing a song to the group whilst there are others, "that have come about just from us jamming and saying, 'I like that change, we should keep it in the song.' Or someone might be jamming vocally with a guitar or keyboard, and then we decide to restructure it into something that can become an actual song."
Wayman continued: "For instance, I wrote 'Shadows' from start to finish, but everybody else pretty much writes their part. I don't write Jen's basslines, I don't write Stella's drum parts. But if we have ideas, we definitely will tell each other. Like for 'Shadows,' I definitely had an idea of how I wanted the drums to sound and when they kick in, and Stella executed it far better than I ever could with her own spice."
Wayman sings about the sense of being lost in the city, feeling she doesn't quite belong. "I actually feel really differently about LA to when I wrote that song," she told The Independent in 2017. "I think a lot of it has to do with traveling, seeing other parts of the world and having different cultural experiences, then getting back to LA and seeing what its worth is."
"There's something special about it, but if I wasn't travelling I think I'd miss the type of deep-seated culture that you get in other places," Wayman continued. "Being in Madrid for three days, walking around these old streets, you know that people have been doing that for so much longer than anyone in America. I find that automatically inspiring. It fuels me in ways that are maybe unexplainable."