2017-01-25 / Front Page

Interview With Sxip Shirey

Interview By Hannah Page

Photo Krys Fox Photo Krys Fox 1. How does New York sound? How does Queens sound? Are they sonically different and if so, why?

There are special sounds all over the city of NYC. My friend designer Chris Green courted his wife, puppeteer and teacher, Erin Orr, by bringing her to a spot in Queens by the water where people have been throwing bottles over the years. As the tides shift so do shards of broken glass under the water, you can hear the faint sound of tinkling. It's magic. 

There are spots like this, magic with sound in their own way, all over the city.

2. What is the mini-movie or situation from the "Woman of Constant Sorrow" music video? What inspired this?

It was inspired by the traditional song "Man of Constant Sorrow" I wanted to flip the script and write it from a woman's perspective. A woman who has had hard times, and likely will never recover from those hard times fully but IS going to live life to the FULLEST anyway. 

3. What is the most outlandish and/or unexpected "instrument" you've ever utilized in your work?

I can play music on a tampon applicator. I really can.

4. Why did you go with "Cinnamon Stick"? Why not Xavier's preference, vanilla beans? What is it about a cinnamon stick that inspired such a sensual and sexual song?

When I wrote the words I just assumed. I had never thought about it. I like writing songs about sex and food. They are two of my favorite things. Though I never put the two things together.  Check out the song "Knockin" that my old band Luminscent Orchestrii cut on Nonsuch Records with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

5. How would "Penny Red" differ from the final product had you never met Laurie Penny? Would the song even have come to fruition?

Yes, it was a pretty good when Laurie jumped and danced to it but then THAT spurred me on to make it even better! Laurie Penny made the song energized and came alive!

6. What is the story behind the "Penny Red" music video?

HAHA. Good question. I teach at the Norwegian Theater Academy in Fredrickstad, Norway. It's an experimental theater school. I love teaching there. Jan Hustak, the husband of one of my former students is a film maker. "I'll make a video for your new album!" he told me. "How much do you need?" I asked. "$500," he said. I sent him that. He took it and bought gas money and drove around Eastern Europe in clouding the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Albania and had all these people put on a "Sxip" wig and dance around to the music. The first person you see is his wife, theater artist Nela Kornetova. The older woman is her mother!

7. Do your music videos ever veer away from the story behind the song itself?

They are always at least spiritually connected to the music. 

8. How have your travels affected your aesthetic?

YES, the sound of everywhere I've traveled is in the music!

9. If you could collaborate with anyone, whom would you choose? Why?

Janelle Monea. I have a hit song for her.

10. Why do you love the urban landscape? If you don't, why don't you?

I love being in cities where all cultures of the world come to meet. Great art is always created in port cities and mining towns. It comes together when different cultures are listening to each other. It comes together when different cultures HAVE to listen to each other.

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