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Demonize by Soviet//Shiksa (transcription)

An interview with Christopher Shawn

This week's guest is Christopher Shawn from the gothic americana band SOVIET//SHIKSA. We'l be discussing their recently released song 'Demonize' (Youtube/ Spotify) from the three track EP Melancholia. Along the way we'll be discussing which band will be ideal to have play at your (Sigur rós) and why, the EP series (Songs about Sex, Death and God I, II and III) and the accompanying book 'His time with Sex, Death and God' by Christopher Shawn and touch on other influences for the band.

You can listen to the episode on the podcast page (Episode 1), on your podcast app or on YouTube.



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hello this is christopher 

shawn from soviet//shiksa  


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and i'm here to talk with the 

ennrons on your new favourite song


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hi and welcome to your new favourite 

song and this week i'll be talking to  


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chris shawn from soviet shiksa about their 

song they released recently called demonize  


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hi chris all the way from nashville how are you 

i am very good how are you today i'm very good  


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i'm quite excited really glad that you agreed 

to talk to me today about about your song and  


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so first of all i think it would like 

to maybe get a bit of an introduction  


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who you are where you are and a bit 

about the band as well and what you do  


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that sounds good to me i'm christopher shawn 

and the soviet//shiksa is the the name of my  


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i guess you could call it a solo project i am a 

formerly a backing musician i played bass with  


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singer songwriters and multiple 

bands and things like that and  


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got kind of tired of not writing my own stuff or 

performing my own thing so i recruited a band and  


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started playing shows upsetting audiences in 

nashville and all across the southeast and  


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northeast united states so and soviet//shiksa 

is a solo project but you don't do it all on  


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your own i guess or or no i do not do it all on my 

own i do write the songs i do structure them but  


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the band members i have recruited they they write 

their own parts they add their own pieces we like  


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to say felt on the pretzel i i play with the full 

horn section live i have an amazing rhythm section  


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yeah they're talented musicians and honestly 

it would be totally different without them  


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okay and are they also in other bands that 

you're in or or just friends for this project  


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actually all the musicians i'm playing 

with in this project i had never worked  


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before like i had played gigs with bands that they 

had worked with just they're just musicians i had  


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found in town working with other groups 

and other musicians because you're in in  


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nashville right which is like the the center 

of the united states music industry i guess  


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we we like to think we are the center of the 

musical world well you know this i'm british so...


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i mean what we understand you all have a pretty 

pretty happhapening music scene there yeah yeah  


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but i mean guess nashville is a place where you 

can get a lot of musicians and studios and stuff  


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like that so oh without a doubt yeah and then 

did you but you'll still still play in your other  


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bands no no i i i had to stop i was losing my mind 

honestly there's a lot of music out there that i  


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i played base for for money and out of boredom and 

it got tiring and i just i didn't need to anymore  


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and i just decided that it was something 

i needed to stop doing okay and so they  


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just concentrating on the soviet shiksa yes and 

do you also sing the song yes i am the the singer  


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of the front and i am the the beautiful face 

that people see screaming at them from stage  


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behind a very very impressive beard and a 

really huge quiff as well i can see yeah oh yeah  


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ordinarily it's it's a little quiffier today 

than usual but yeah it's usually pretty puffy  


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yeah yeah it's a tendency to react i mean 

it adds about five inches to your length  


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to your height i guess yeah it's quite impressive 

so you i also sent you some ice breaker questions  


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some questions i think i had to get to know 

you a little bit better and the first one you  


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asked was which band dead or life which band or 

artist dead or alive would play at your funeral  


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yes yeah and i i had thought about this and this 

is actually something that i i thought about a lot  


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at one point in my life i was at a musical a music 

festival in tennessee called bonnaroo one year and  


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i had eaten a bunch of acid and i was i 

was walking around the festival grounds and  


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i had forgotten that a band called sigur ross 

i believe is how you pronounce their name  


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was playing at about 12 30 at night on some 

stage and i was just kind of wandering around  


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aimlessly not really knowing where i was going 

a little lost in my head and i just heard this  


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almost angelic cooing coming from the distance and 

the crowd responding to it i just drifted towards  


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the lights and there they were in all their glory 

and i just remember thinking honestly like this  


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is what i want to die to if the weather wasn't the 

acid oh i'm sure the acid had an effect but yeah i  


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think seguros would be the perfect soundtrack 

to most people's funerals especially my own  


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and if people don't know this band why why 

would they be a perfect funeral or send off  


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big sounds heavy moods incredible unusual vocals 

that you're not going to get anywhere else they're  


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hard to describe but they're they're definitely 

worth listening to i'm probably slaughtering the  


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pronunciation of their name if you're out there 

and you're curious it's s-i-g-u-r space ros  


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get in there and and dig in because okay 

but we'll put a link to this spotify i guess  


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and they're probably on the spot we'll put a link 

to the spotify in the show notes so anybody who's  


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interested to just go and directly check them 

out book them for your funeral award if only


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um so are you a listener or a talker a little 

bit of both with most people i'm a listener  


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with closer friends i can be 

a bit of a talker but yeah  


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and in show scenarios i tend to be very quiet and 

almost stoic but you know occasionally i'll i'll  


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chat people up but i definitely prefer to be a 

listener yeah because i mean it's you know now  


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that you say that about shows i mean you have 

people who are definitely extrovert on stage  


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who really come alive on stage and they really 

engage their audience and how do you do that  


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on stage i mean i don't know how i think show 

via shiksha is the music is quite something you  


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listen to it's especially demonized so how 

do you engage your audience i engage them


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with unchecked aggression i think 

that's the best way i can describe it  


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um i i dress in a very unassuming manner and 

usually i'm in the crowd before i'm on stage and  


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for the most part i don't talk i'm very 

polite and then when we start playing i  


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immediately start screaming at them 

i i have been called antagonistic  


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songs that are very subdued on the records tend 

to come out much angrier much more spiteful alive  


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the horn section those boys do a great job of  


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stirring up people and and getting in the 

face of the audience and it's yeah i think  


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antagonistic is probably the most accurate word 

i can think of because i think i i engage the  


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audience from the point of view of you don't 

need to be here so i'm going to drive you out  


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it's not really very good for your ba your fan 

base if you drive people away no i mean it seems  


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to work i think people hate themselves on a 

very deep level and they appreciate the abuse  


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so the third question you asked was which failure 

did you learn the most from hmm i honestly i don't  


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know i've had a couple of failures i recently 

started a divorce which i think i learned the  


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most from the the three ep series songs about 

sex death and god it's a narrative it's a loose  


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narrative but it's a narrative about a struggling 

writer going through a divorce and the stories and  


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the songs are a combination of his perspective of 

the situation than the short stories he's writing  


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and it's somewhat autobiographical to a point 

but yeah yeah i think when you put so much  


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time and energy into a relationship like that 

with somebody else and it kind of falls apart  


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there is an opportunity to learn a lot and that's 

definitely the one i've learned the most from  


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and what did you learn specifically yeah what's 

what's the thing that really stands out for you  


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self-sufficiency to not just financially or 

professionally but emotionally you have to be able  


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to take care of yourself and be there for yourself 

before you can be there in any way shape or form  


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for anybody else okay and have you used that in 

your in your music with soviet//shiksa are you  


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using that for an outlet for this emotional i 

guess turbulence that you're feeling in going  


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through a divorce is quite a turbulent 

time i think so the three ep series was  


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definitely being written in in the worst 

parts of that and the the newer stuff i'm  


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writing now is definitely in the wake of 

that and there's definitely some elements  


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in the newer stuff that hasn't been recorded 

that will be recorded in november of this year  


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but yeah i'm definitely using it 

as a as an emotional fuel for sure  


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okay and the because the the the ep series are 

called songs about sex death and god parts one  


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two and three yes that's right and i mean 

they're also on spotify today i'll put the  


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links on to those as well but is there any do 

you sort of say you should listen to them in  


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in order or just jump in and out you can jump 

in and out it's totally fine there is a book  


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that i sell that actually reinforces the narrative 

a little bit it's it's called his time with sex  


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death in god it's available on and it 

puts the the the tracks from the multiple eps in  


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the correct order and there's a piece or two of 

poetry that kind of helps seal the deal so to  


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speak as well but you can listen to it any way you 

want to most people nowadays like to just pop in  


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listen to a song or two make their own playlist 

that sort of thing and that's totally fine  


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but there's more there if you want it for sure now 

the song demonized that's not part of that that  


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that's from melancholia i think miller is that 

right i've been saying melancholia i i believe  


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that's the pronunciation i think it's one of those 

words it's you know tomato tomato you can you can  


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do whatever you want and across the pond you 

guys have your own inflections for sure so have  


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at it yeah that's what they say yeah americans 

and british are divided by a common language  


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it's it's interesting but anyway 

melancholia yes that's that's the  


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most recent release by soviet shiksa 

and we released it in february within  


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tensions to to kind of run around on it and then 

the pandemic happened so we shut down everything  


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but yeah it's a three song ep which we use to 

kind of express ourselves and stretch out from  


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the constraints of the threesome of the three 

series ep because we were so focused on that  


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sound that i was working on that i wanted to kind 

of stretch our legs and see what we could do so we  


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we did three very different types of songs and put 

them out as an ep and i mean because demon i think  


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when i i said about demonizes it's like johnny 

cash meets the doors at a thrash metal festival  


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but i mean you know you've got this very deep 

baritone voice which is a bit like johnny cash but  


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you're seeing like like jim morrison especially 

on that song you know it's really got that feel of  


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riders in the storm and that's that kind of yeah 

what would you call it kind of dreamy type of  


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vibe going on yeah some sort of like a satanic 

crooner yeah yeah yeah well i mean it's called  


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demon eye so i mean you know it's probably 

the right way and it starts off with this  


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we've got the snares and like a kick drum i 

guess i think so and and the horns going on  


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there in the background and very simple riff bass 

riff yeah are you playing the bass riff on that  


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no no no that would be ricky demayo my basis 

supreme laying down the base for us on that


00:14:07,920 --> 00:14:15,840



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how is that different than to the other tracks 

that you've done i mean what's the what's  


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so special about this particular sound on 

this track this one was interesting i had a  


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there is a i believe they're worldwide 

i believe they're called this  


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the the satanic church i think that's the name of 

their group it's a it's a coalition of satanists  


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and there is a local chapter in nashville and i 

had gotten invited to a meeting i guess because  


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of my aesthetic and just my overall personality so 

i was like yeah what the hell and i'll join these  


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folks for a lunch and there's a a a a a german 

sausage house in nashville that i had lunch with  


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these people at and they were really good people 

really nice and it was just interesting to hear  


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them talk about their daily experience and their 

their groups goals and things like that nature  


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and how there's a lot of misconceptions 

behind what they are and what they believe  


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and what they do and their whole thing is empathy 

and reason and i went home from that meeting  


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of thinking a few things just the weird irony 

of the entire situation and also just like  


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that's an intriguing subject that like they 

have these weird misconceptions and these weird  


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perceptions are laid out upon them but they're 

totally different and it seems like on a lot of  


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issues and ideas they're on the right side and i 

kind of just went home and wrote a little piece  


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with some words that rhymed and then i had a 

couple of riffs that i looped around the house  


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and just started growling into a microphone 

until i found the vocal rhythm that's kind  


00:16:04,560 --> 00:16:08,880

of where that song came from and like you 

said it's a very simple riff and it runs but  


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once i got the the rhythm section in there and 

i got the horn boys behind it i think we had  


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something really special there yeah because that's 

something you'd actually i i listened to it again  


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and kind of realized that the horns were in 

there so when the first time you hear it you  


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don't really hear the the horns you hear this 

big bass and the kick it really you know grabs  


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your attention and then all of a sudden you think 

the second time you hear you think oh hey hold on  


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it's got some horns and what what have you got 

in the background the trumpets or on this yeah  


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the horn section consists of saxophone trumpet and 

trombone on the trombone yeah i mean because it's  


00:16:46,560 --> 00:16:51,280

really quite subtle there in the background in the 

very beginning but they come around about halfway  


00:16:51,280 --> 00:16:55,200

through they start to come back in again really 

loud and then you've got this kind of cacophony  


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this sort of satanic cacophony halfway through 

the song which i think is the bit that you chose


00:17:03,760 --> 00:17:06,560

the the the clip the clip that 

we played at the beginning  


00:17:07,440 --> 00:17:12,160

yes yeah i definitely wanted the the 

the horns to be noticed because i think  


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you know there's a lot of i guess sludgy doomy 

metal out there but i don't think a lot of it  


00:17:17,280 --> 00:17:24,400

has a horn section to back it up i think it's 

a really interesting sound for sure yeah i mean  


00:17:24,400 --> 00:17:30,400

most metal is kind of in my experience kind of 

leans more towards a classical you know bach and  


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and anything but you're kind of more leaning 

towards here maybe jazz using horn sections it's  


00:17:38,800 --> 00:17:45,840

not very metal i mean would you describe yourself 

as a metal band no i would i wouldn't go that far  


00:17:47,360 --> 00:17:55,280

we have heavier stuff we have some stuff i would 

say like leans on the shoulders of punk and like  


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maybe a heavier rock but i don't have any metal 

ambitions although i do love a lot of metal  


00:18:02,480 --> 00:18:06,880

i just i don't have it in me i don't have the 

dexterity or the talent to play metal either  


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and i my voice has a hard enough time holding 

up with the way i treat it on stage every  


00:18:11,840 --> 00:18:15,920

night as it is so if i was screaming 

more it would probably be a bad idea  


00:18:17,760 --> 00:18:22,480

yeah did you did you i mean because 

you've got this deep voice you you might  


00:18:22,480 --> 00:18:28,160

tend towards kind of a thrash you know well 

this this death metal is this really grunty  


00:18:28,160 --> 00:18:34,320

sound but it's it's not it's quite melodic 

as well i think that's all yeah yeah for sure  


00:18:35,920 --> 00:18:42,080

and that's that's the other problem is i'm not a 

talented singer i've been probably just as long as  


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i've been writing these songs so i think i put the 

first ep out in 2017 and that was recorded maybe  


00:18:48,320 --> 00:18:53,840

about four months after i had finally decided 

to start singing into a microphone by myself  


00:18:53,840 --> 00:19:00,080

so i'm learning as i go i think i'm getting better 

who knows it sounds pretty good did you or did you  


00:19:00,080 --> 00:19:04,880

do the the recording and the production yourself 

or did you get somebody to do that for you  


00:19:05,440 --> 00:19:11,760

no there is a my my engineer gentleman his name is 

weston wallman and he works out of nashville very  


00:19:11,760 --> 00:19:19,040

talented very talented guy he works at a legit 

real studio during the day but he also has his  


00:19:19,040 --> 00:19:25,600

home set up which is amazing and fantastic and 

he's been nothing but a a godsend when it comes  


00:19:25,600 --> 00:19:32,960

to like helping me get my ideas into a digital 

medium that makes sense okay and i mean you how  


00:19:32,960 --> 00:19:36,160

did you lay down the tracks then i mean because 

that's always something that's interesting to  


00:19:37,920 --> 00:19:42,400

first certainly to me when we were recording 

as well there's a kind of an order you  


00:19:43,120 --> 00:19:46,480

lay your tracks down in and then you 

build up the sound so how did you do that  


00:19:47,520 --> 00:19:56,160

ordinarily at least our our our process consists 

of the earlier stuff we didn't really mess with  


00:19:56,160 --> 00:19:59,440

click tracks or tempos but 

melancholia we use tempos  


00:19:59,440 --> 00:20:03,520

on demonize in particular we set 

the tempo at 66.6 beats per minute  


00:20:05,200 --> 00:20:12,960

we thought that was fun but yeah ordinarily 

especially going forward we'll set a tempo i  


00:20:12,960 --> 00:20:18,000

will lay down scratch tracks where i play a loose 

guitar part and do a little loose vocal part and  


00:20:18,000 --> 00:20:24,240

then we'll get drums in and record the real drums 

and then lay the bass on top of that and go from  


00:20:24,240 --> 00:20:30,560

there but usually when we're tracking drums we're 

tracking live so we're playing the songs live and  


00:20:32,480 --> 00:20:37,920

tracking drums and then we just lay everything on 

top of that so do you play all the instruments the  


00:20:37,920 --> 00:20:45,680

whole song live in one go you don't record them 

multi-track no we do we do the multi-track but  


00:20:46,240 --> 00:20:51,200

when the drums are being recorded to have the 

live band energy the band is playing live with  


00:20:51,200 --> 00:20:57,360

the drummer so we'll just be the mics will just be 

on for the drums and then once those are recorded  


00:20:57,360 --> 00:21:01,680

we record everything on top of that so you 

still have that kind of essence of playing alive  


00:21:02,320 --> 00:21:08,240

in that spot in 80 if it happens with the drums 

and then you go from there and do you have a when  


00:21:08,240 --> 00:21:15,680

you're playing with the drums are you using like a 

condenser mic to get a room to get the the ambient  


00:21:15,680 --> 00:21:22,560

sound of the other instruments in the room or to 

just clean drums playing microphones honestly i  


00:21:22,560 --> 00:21:28,800

i think that would be more in weston's wheelhouse 

i honest i don't know anything about production  


00:21:28,800 --> 00:21:34,000

or anything i am not a gearhead by any stretch 

of the imagination i barely know how to use  


00:21:34,000 --> 00:21:39,600

my own gear let alone his i know he has a 

multitude of microphones and there are cables  


00:21:40,160 --> 00:21:46,320

everywhere and it's overwhelming and he handles it 

with the grace of a disney princess it's amazing  


00:21:47,840 --> 00:21:51,920

yeah because i mean you know that's why you use 

a click track obviously is if you're going to  


00:21:51,920 --> 00:21:57,760

use those kind of ambient noises from the the 

room then you need to make sure that you always  


00:21:57,760 --> 00:22:05,680

playing at the same constant tempo otherwise 

you get face changes and stuff which but okay  


00:22:07,600 --> 00:22:14,320

and what's this what's the the song really about 

i mean what's what are you trying to say to people  


00:22:14,320 --> 00:22:16,640

in the song what's the message 

you're trying to bring over  


00:22:17,920 --> 00:22:26,160

i don't honestly i don't i'm i'm terrible 

at conveying messages or imparting  


00:22:26,160 --> 00:22:29,840

a certain feeling or idea that somebody 

should take from anything that i create  


00:22:31,200 --> 00:22:38,720

without trying to sound too pompous but i i think 

it's i mean if you could take anything from it


00:22:41,200 --> 00:22:46,080

what do you take from it that you 

shouldn't take some things at face value  


00:22:46,080 --> 00:22:53,840

and that sometimes what seems right is wrong 

sometimes what seems wrong might be right


00:23:05,920 --> 00:23:11,440

okay well gets you know given the time it's 

really interesting yeah so lovely of this  


00:23:11,440 --> 00:23:16,320

the satanist most people say yeah the saginaws 

are nice people but they just believe in satan  


00:23:18,000 --> 00:23:23,600

well that's that's that's another misconception 

most satanist if not all satanists don't really  


00:23:23,600 --> 00:23:30,880

believe in any manifestation of a real satan 

it's it's but yeah it's in my experience every  


00:23:30,880 --> 00:23:35,840

satanist i've met has been nothing but 

a peach they're always amazing people  


00:23:37,040 --> 00:23:40,560

with any kind of person i'm sure there's terrible 

satanists out there i can't wait to meet one  


00:23:41,520 --> 00:23:45,840

well this little you know what they say about 

you know if you go outside of your door and you  


00:23:45,840 --> 00:23:49,840

actually engage with the world that you find 

out that most people are actually pretty okay  


00:23:50,800 --> 00:23:56,720

i don't know if it's in the states but in in the 

netherlands a guy wrote a book and it's become  


00:23:56,720 --> 00:24:02,880

quite of a bit of a hit and i'm trying to think 

of the the english translation is most people are  


00:24:02,880 --> 00:24:08,960

okay the most immense dosa it's like most people 

are actually okay and they won't want to rob you  


00:24:08,960 --> 00:24:12,560

they won't want to steal from you they won't want 

to hurt you in any way in fact most people are  


00:24:14,000 --> 00:24:21,520

programmed to be sociable to to and if you get 

that into your head then actually engaging with  


00:24:21,520 --> 00:24:26,800

other people is not so different difficult 

because most people are pretty much the same  


00:24:27,520 --> 00:24:37,760

on the level i'd be willing to agree with that for 

sure yeah so what's what's on the cards for soviet  


00:24:37,760 --> 00:24:43,760

shiksa in the near future in there in case you're 

not gigging at the moment no honestly i think the  


00:24:43,760 --> 00:24:49,440

majority of what happens with us in the future 

depends on americans ability to just wear a mask


00:24:52,800 --> 00:24:57,520

coming from one of those problematic states 

like tennessee where people's pride tends  


00:24:57,520 --> 00:25:04,800

to be put over people's empathy i don't i don't 

know how long it's gonna take for us to kind of  


00:25:04,800 --> 00:25:07,920

clear the woods to the point where there's 

gonna be live shows i do know that i've  


00:25:07,920 --> 00:25:12,800

become more proactive with engaging the 

audience i do have with instagram so  


00:25:14,160 --> 00:25:19,120

if not bi-weekly it will probably be weekly 

i'll be doing live streams where i'll be  


00:25:19,120 --> 00:25:24,640

playing some songs and chatting up the people 

who choose to watch the streams through instagram  


00:25:26,160 --> 00:25:33,760

we will be reporting oh i'm sorry i'll be on your 

instagram page yes yes and and well it's a free  


00:25:33,760 --> 00:25:40,080

free shout out to yourself what's your instagram 

handle the instagram handle is soviet shiksa


00:25:48,400 --> 00:25:51,200

what does that mean by the way i wanted to 

ask you that question what does show what  


00:25:51,200 --> 00:25:58,400

does soviet//shiksa i mean well yeah so i think we 

all understand what soviet is and the connotations  


00:25:58,400 --> 00:26:07,360

behind it a shiksa is a yiddish word or even like 

a jewish slang for a a promiscuous non-jewish  


00:26:07,360 --> 00:26:13,280

woman and maybe a hundred years ago it it would 

have been taken very seriously in most of the  


00:26:13,280 --> 00:26:19,600

world nowadays i think it's still considered 

relatively offensive in parts of old europe  


00:26:19,600 --> 00:26:25,120

and in certain families for sure they still 

don't take entirely through it i have gotten  


00:26:25,120 --> 00:26:31,520

a lot of odd reaction that was unexpected from 

people from all parts of the world to me it's a  


00:26:32,800 --> 00:26:38,160

it has a an unusual meaning i i picked the 

words mainly because they sounded neat together  


00:26:38,160 --> 00:26:42,080

and then as i tend to do i 

assign meaning to things that  


00:26:44,080 --> 00:26:48,880

shouldn't have any meaning assigned to them so i 

have my own personal reasons for keeping the name  


00:26:49,440 --> 00:26:54,880

but honestly there's not much there it's just 

it sounds neat and i like the word shiksa i  


00:26:54,880 --> 00:26:59,360

think it's an interesting word i mean would you 

i mean you say you've got some personal reasons  


00:26:59,360 --> 00:27:05,440

but would you mind sharing them or what your for 

keeping the name well you know when you when you  


00:27:05,440 --> 00:27:11,360

hear the word soviet you think of maybe like you 

know the soviet union and old style socialism and  


00:27:12,080 --> 00:27:18,240