Q+A: Shifted announces new SHXCXCHCXSH album on Avian
‘SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs’ is due out June 6.
Brewer launched Avian back in 2011, and has since hand-picked material from the likes of Sigha, Pris, Peder Mannerfelt, and Simon Haydo to be released through it. First appearing on the label back in 2012, SHXCXCHCXSH have now racked up a total of two albums, as well as a handful of EPs with them. The duo are returning to the imprint later this year, following on from their last full length, 2014’s Linear S Decoded. Their new material is described by Avian as “monochromatic & wrought with tension,” promising “some of their most powerfully emotive work yet.”
SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs is scheduled for release on June 6, and can be pre-ordered here. We caught up with Shifted ahead of the release.
This will be the third full length from SHXCXCHCXSH on your imprint AVIAN. How did you come to discover the duo, and what has allowed them to call your label home for the past few years?
Actually the first thing that drew me to them was the name. They had done a digital release on a Spanish label called Subsist that I had received a promo for. I saw the name and for obvious reasons it stood out. Upon listening, it was immediately obvious that they had something special. It’s almost intangible what gives an artist that “something,” but you know it when you hear it. I tracked down their email and got in contact, and it’s been fairly easy since. There’s been no pressure from either side; it’s just been natural, as it should be.
Can you tell us a little bit about their mysterious name, as well as method of naming their releases and tracks? How does this play into their abstract ambient productions?
You have no idea how many times I’ve been asked this—pretty much every weekend when I travel, people ask about them. The truth is, I have no idea. Both the name and the track titles are as much a mystery to me as they are to anyone else, and I intend to keep it that way. Mystery is important in music, being that by its very nature it’s quite escapist. A lot of my favourite artists have played with this, creating a world around what they do sonically (look at Drexciya for instance). I think from the outset SHXCXCHCXSH have understood how to play with this.
With this release comes a kind of relaunching of AVIAN, with a new website where you will be releasing selected catalog numbers on cassette. The visual aesthetic of the label is very strong, with the use of dark and thought-provoking photographic imagery. What is the idea behind this concept, and who is responsible for selecting the images? What new direction are you planning to take?
I wouldn’t say it’s a relaunch, but we’ve certainly stepped things up lately. We had a slow year in 2015, and some issues surrounding distribution, so this year I want to rectify that and get things moving on a bigger scale. As far as aesthetics go, it’s been something that has evolved over time, but I’m finally at a stage where I feel we’ve gained an identity of our own. There’s no strict “concept” that links everything together, but there’s certainly an attitude or spirit that I feel is present throughout the catalog, particularly the last three years or so. I curate the label entirely, so everything goes past my eyes and ears, but I’m not a visual artist, so I’m always bullying friends into helping me out. Usually I’ll find an image I like, be it something that I stumble upon or something I commission, like the work we did with Jesse Draxler for instance. Actually, almost the only exception is SHXCXCHCXSH who have been responsible for all of their LP art, but obviously this is still a collaborative process to a certain extent. As for a new direction I have no idea, we will simply mutate over time, as we have thus far.