“An all-American original who reinvents pop craft”” John Payne, LA Weekly
“Snail outdoes the classics and becomes a classic herself” Piero Scaruffi, The History of Rock Music
“the absolute queen of hypnotic, otherworldly benevolence….one of our most undervalued treasures” Joe S. Harrington, MAGNET
Azalia Snail has recorded 11 critically-acclaimed albums, gaining recognition as a pioneering force in the underground "lo-fi" movement of the 1990's. Many influential labels have released her music, including Sub Pop and Dark Beloved Cloud, who launched their label with a split 7” by Azalia and SEBADOH. She also filmed and assembled Super-8 films as backdrop to live performances. In 1996, she was commissioned by MTV to score the music for the program "Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing". She has also composed music for several indie features and short films.
She has toured consistently throughout the USA and Europe with such acts as LOW, SEBADOH, THE BLACK HEART PROCESSION, SPORTSGUITAR, and ILLYAH KURYAHKIN.
Azalia moved to California in 2000, and won that year's LA Weekly Music Award for Best New Genre.
web site: www.azaliasnail.com
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Disc 1. 1.Servant Of Smoke 2.Foxy Persauder 3.Eviction 4.Lovelessland 5.Another Slave Labour Day 6.St Nowhere 7.In A Moon Suit 8.Into Yr World 9.Honeysuckle 10.Illusionary Hang-Out 11.Layton Hollow 12.Who Razed The Spy? 13.The Supposing Song 14.Aero Sets Me Free 15.Let Me Enslave You 16.Evidence 17.Luxury Rd 18.A Low Coast Move 19.Saviour
Disc 2. 1.Hit By A Car 2.Escape Maker 3.Scenescape 4.Silk Breeze 5.Baby Brother 6.Sylvan Echoes 7.I Praise You 8.Blue Danube 9.Anywhere Is Here 10.Getting Lei'd 11.Persuasion 12.Ginger Ale 13.Bathing In Space 14.Fiery Sky 15.Slow Propulsion 16.Broken Toy 17.Fumarole Rising 18.Highway Devices
A word from Azalia
California beckoned me at a time when I felt I needed open sky and a whole lot of sun. I was coming here a lot on tour, and entertained the notion of being here more often;. Originally I was going to make a double coast existence, but I found that once I was here, I didn’t want to go back to NYC so much. As much as I devoured and was completely enamored of NYC, I was dismayed at a lot of the changes taking place there. Gone were so many of my favorite restuarants and hang-outs. It was, in quick order, becoming too much like the suburbia I dreaded as a desperate teenager. It seems to be more a playground for the spoiled and the overcompensated. Los Angeles still has sections of bohemian splendour, or a at least a taste of that. I can get in my little car and cruise up to the foothills in a few minutes, taking in an intoxicating view, and getting away from it all. One should keep in mind that it is possible to keep your distance from the mundane and shallow victims that congregate in Los Angeles more popularly known arenas.
I began my music as a soundtrack to my own experiemental film INSIDE HER MINDS (filmed by the bizarre and reticent Tim Ray). I couldn’t help but visualize images with music. Way before the rock video took its form, music was utilized most grandly by fillmmakers, first with the silents and on to the fabulous musicals (my mother took us kids to all of the revivals or we watched them on television); and continuing with my favorite era of cinema, 60’s and 70’s groudbreakers like Hal Ashby and Robert Altman. Merging music and film is an irresistible combination for me. I should also mention Christopher G. Frieri, who asked me to score three of his horror/cult features for him.
Europe. Another subject that whirls me in the direction of paradise. How can I praise it enough? With its immaculate history, culture, disparate differences, appreciation for art for art’s sake (as opposed to America’s obsession with the dollar/profit margin)—beautiful scenery, gregarious people, splendorous foods, I am intoxicated by the multitude of charns various countries offer me. If they like me in turn, that would only seem fair. Perhaps USA will one day be proud of their underground flowery crustacean, but that is not for me to say.
I’ve always created music exactly the way I wanted to at that moment of creation. I have never compromised; I have never had to. BLUE DANUBE was especially daring, if you will, because each song was created in its own anonymous tuning, and recorded immediately to four-track upon its inception. I can never play these songs live because I have no idea what these tunings are anymore. Only the words were written in my notebook. All the instruments (some quite odd) were played by me without any planning whatsoever. I was lucky that the German label, Normal , allowed me to release it exactly as I created it. The British label Garden of Delights released it on vinly as ESCAPE MAKER with some of the songs as instrumentals. As for the title track, It was a plea for the love I had at the time to love me the way I loved him (also wtihout compromise) – it was an impossible task for him. Much of the album deals with the disparity of realizing I was with a rather elusive human.
I own all my rights, and I own all my wrongs. Enough said.
Collaboration has always been completely beneficial and appealing to me. I wouldn’t have made all this music without the contribution of so many amazing people. Some of my favorites: Pall Jenkins from The Black Heart Procession (he played on “Unalligned Sky” on BLUE DANUBE) who has such an alluring sadness in his soul. Alan Sparhawk from LOW, a band that never ceases to hypnotize and sooth my soul. Alan played the mellotron lead on “Purr on a Gyre” on BREAKER MORTAR). In the early 90’s, it was also a treat to jam with Beck Hansen, who now has become a star out of reach. I played zither on stage with him in Minneapolis (the “Purple Rain” nightclub, actually); he played harmonica with me and Trumans Water in Los Angles. Speaking of Trumans, our album “Stampone” still stands as a unique freeform rock/jazz experiment that surely does not sound like anything else. I had a terrific time playing with my Swiss pals SPORTSGUITAR on our SWISS BLISS sessions. I still dig the album I made with Susanne Lewis as HAIL/SNAIL “How to Live With a Tiger.” You asked about Supreme Dicks. Daniel Oxenberg is a superior guitar player who toured me for some years in the 1990s. He plays some melodic leads on my album BURNT SIENNA. I never worked with any of the other Dicks, but I do love many of their songs from the 90s.
Most outstanding gig was Berlin for the first time, I think it was 1995. I played in an old squat in the old eastern zone, Lychenerstrasse 56. The audience was unbelievably enthusaistic, kept cheering for more until I pulled a Bruce Springsteen and played for over three hours. Inviting kids from the crowd to grab an instrument and play along, I felt like I could do anything and everything without regret. I’ve become acquainted with several of those that were there, including the lovely Kitty Solaris. She has told me she was inspired from that show to play music of her own! What better compliment can one get? Second best could be Paris around the same time, I took on my guitar in a way I never had before, concocting Hendrixian dynamics (I really don’t know where I got the guts) – Les Instants Chavires, not far from where Henry Miller resided. Maybe that’s why I got the nerve.
I am so grateful for all the experiences I have had touring, recording, watching other bands play, listening, appreciating, dedicating myself to many art practitioners. I could not exist without art. Life would be hollow and meaningless without art. One can cringe at the amount of “bad art”, but one can also say that we need all of it, the lesser to know the better, the mediocre to know the truly divine. To create is to intoxicate.
My newest album AVEC AMOUR could be my hookiest effort to date. There’s some quite rocking and, dare I say, structured songs. I think it still has my unmistable sound. I wouldn’t know how to make it sound like anyone else, and why should I? Take it or leave it; it’s all I can do. I’m writing fiction as well. There just may be a movie being made quite soon from a script I wrote this year. I’m venturing into making videos for other bands as well. I’ve directed several this year: one for my song “Honeysuckle” filmed in the ravishingly photogenic Forest Lawn Cemetary; for my favorite LA band, THE MOVIES, kind of a spin on the movie “Secretary”, a few for the fantastic Berlin rock band KITTY SOLARIS; another one for THE PICK-UP STICKS called “Open Fire”, two for one-woman showstopper CHASE FRANK, and many more, all available to watch on youtube.com. All accomplished on a mini-DV camera. Vastly easier than my old-fashioned way on an old Super-8!
Azalia Snail will remain true to her notions of exploration and adventure, whether it be sonic grooves or visual allure. Hope to continue to inspire others in their own independent and invigorating investigations.
ARTICLES & REVIEWS
NELSON MAIL - 2ND OCTOBER 2008: Underdog tag dogs indie queen. Nelson indie rock fans are in for a visit from lo-fi royalty next week, when American artist Azalia Snail comes to town. Nick Ward reports.
Azalia Snail isn't the first musician to be stuck with a tag they just can't shake, but she's learned to live with it.
Dubbed the "Queen of Lo-Fi", Snail is consideredone of the pioneers of a genre that has encompassed acts like Pavement, Liz Phair and plenty of Kiwi bands.
She's also done plenty of recordings with a nice clean studio sound, but all those years of creating on the fringes of the indie underground can see a girl pigeonholed.
"I've often said, no matter how I try to make a song different, no matter how poppy I try to make it sound, they still say 'weird'," Snail says in her cheerful Los Angeles drawl.
"It's just my luck, I guess. I have my little slot - a total underground musician. In a way, it's good never being popular because it means that people who like my music like it for the right reasons."
Snail is making her first visit to New Zealand for a short tour with Kiwi indie rock counterpart Sandra Bell. They play at Nelson's Independent Theatre next Tuesday. Her music has been described as everything from psychedelic indie rock to soundscape art to a complete reinvention of pop craft, drawing on influences as diverse as Brian Eno, glam rock, the French surrealists and arthouse cinema.
She jokes that her avant-garde style arose from "a lack of disciplinein any one area".
"It's just how I grew up. I had a variety of different things that affected me ... the music my parents had, art, film soundtracks.
"I just wanted to explore all types of music. Because I had so many interests, I wanted to spread it around, so to speak. Not a lot of thought went into it - I just loved music so much."
Snail began her career in New York City's Greenwich Village, releasing her first album in 1990. She now has 11 to her credit. on renowned indie labels like Sub Pop, and has written movie and television soundtracks, including for the award-winning MTVshow Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing in 1996.
The tour with Bell came about as a result of the two meeting in Berlin several years ago. She would have ventured down here sooner but she's been busy, and "it's such a long journey".
Snail is pleased to be in New Zealand for another reason. She keenly followed the Flying Nun scene, and is excited to be playing with luminaries Robert Scott (the Clean, the Bats) and Chris Matthews (ex-Headless Chickens) at two gigs this week. "It's a real honour."
She's also celebrating the release of Petal Metal, a two-disc compilation of her work.
"It's kind of interesting to sort through 20 years of music to come up with something that represents that time. Some days I think, "This stuff is great', and some days I think, "What the hell was I thinking?."
After the tour, she plans to turn some of her energies to another of the arts - film-making. "I started making little short films with my music, and would like to do that on a bigger scale."
Her description of what the results will be like resemblesher music. "Something that's beautiful on many levels. Nothing too obvious."