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AM & Shawn Lee

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Interview with Shawn Lee ~ June 2012
By: Michael Radke

MR: Welcome, Shawn Lee.  I initially wrote these questions to address the both of you, but I see you're the man answering the questions this time around.  I've been listening to both "Celestial Electric", the remix EP and the most recent AM album in preparation...letting it all sink in and influence the curiosities. Very infectious and vivid, I love that the album pushes boundaries and brings together all of your aural backgrounds as a competent body of work.

MR: You've hooked up with ESL Music (founded by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation) to release "Celestial Electric". How did that come about? How has it been working under ESL and playing shows with Thievery Corporation? 

SL: Touring with Thievery Corporation was cool. I've been friends and worked with Rob Garza for some years now. We got to play some really choice venues like The Greek Theater in LA and The Fox Theater in Oakland. Everybody was real nice and Rob always watched our show every night from back stage. He's a super cool guy. Good times....

MR: Even your remix EP is touching on legendary status with the people taking a stab at your songs. Was it all curated by your label or did you hand-pick the artists yourselves? I can't believe Dic Money was born in 1940, it seems surreal to have someone so historically involved in music working on your track. Who would you ideally like to remix your future songs?

SL: The remixes were a bit of a mixed bag really. I initially got a few friends to do some mixes ie: The Superimposers,The Kramford Look & Virgil Howe. ESL got our label mates Fort Knox Five & Chris Joss and Rob Garza involved and our manager knew Dic Money from Australia. In terms of future remixers, here's a wish list: Clutchy Hopkins, AIR, Dam Funk and Colorama! 

MR: Something dear to my heart, VINYL. I see you've both done the unthinkable and had your albums pressed to the analog medium. Something about your music almost screams to be heard through a record player. Classic, soulful, ear soothing. Are you both personal fans of vinyl and possibly even record collectors yourselves? Do you feel listening to your album the "old-fashioned way" is still the best medium when experiencing an album for the first time? 

SL: VINYL is the ultimate physical package. It looks, smells and sounds the business! It's sexy and a classic. It's true what they say: "it ain't final till it's vinyl"!
I grew up buying records and they hold a very special place in my heart. Sitting down and listening to a RECORD is a totally different experience. Dropping the needle. Side A/side B. Flipping it over. Watching it go round and round. That warm sound. AM and myself  are both devotees of the WAX, man! 

MR: I hear so many similarities just from my limited scope of music ingestion when listening to your music. I get vibes from Goblin's synth-heavy "Dawn Of The Dead" score, touches of Gary Numan new wave electronics leading into modern era along the lines of Beck's "Midnite Vultures"/"Tropicalia", even into a local musician in the Twin Cities by the name of Vicious Vicious. Obviously, you might not hear or agree with these crazy comparisons. Who would you say are the influences that really brought you two together? Who did you instantly bond over when exchanging those initial emails? 

SL: In terms of influences, both me & AM bonded over a mutual love of Italian & French film and Library music from the 60's.70's & 80's. Also, we are both massively into the record label Finders Keepers (http://www.finderskeepersrecords.com) that releases lot's of obscure global music like 70's Turkish psych and Pakistani film soundtracks, etc. Andy Votel who runs Finders Keepers also did both the album artwork & liner notes for us on Celestial Electric. It was a real treat for us to have him involved.

MR: In closing, I hope the River's Edge music festival is good to you. It's a very eclectic mix of music, I'm hoping it is successful enough to become an annual festival here in Minnesota. (which it was, as the festival has already been booked for the next 5 years!)