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Queer Artists to Share Stage in Russian Concerts

Published: May 26, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Jamie Stewart is both singer and songwriter for post-punk group Xiu Xiu.
    Photo: Steve Louie / Wikimedia Commons

  • Psychic TV, founded by transgender performance artist Genesis P-Orridge, will join Xiu Xiu’s Russian tour.
    Photo: Dan Mandell / www.danielmandel.com

"The point of playing music is to give and never be afraid to take it too far," said Jamie Stewart, musician and songwriter from Xiu Xiu, who took time off from the band's European tour to speak with The St. Petersburg Times ahead of their Russian concerts with Psychic TV in Moscow on May 30 and St. Petersburg on June 1.

Indeed, in the 12 years since Xiu Xiu's debut album "Knife Play" in 2002, Stewart has been pushing the sonic and emotional boundaries of his music. As a songwriter, Stewart's tortured, confessional approach to songwriting, which has always used his personal life as its subject matter is often raw and disturbing, with music that is both uncomfortable but hauntingly beautiful. Unconventional and abrasive, Xiu Xiu's music meanders between experimental post-punk and harsh industrial noise, with Stewart's fragile voice always present above the chaos.

The advice was given to him by his father, Mark, a successful producer and one-time member of popular folk group The Kingston Trio, who was crucial in Stewart's early musical education, though he admitted that he grew up in a very dysfunctional household.

"There were a few years in which he was crucial in a helping me set up a studio and encouraging me. He then lost his mind and killed himself, but the idea he left me with will always be there.

He only saw us play one time before he died and it was an awful show, but he made a point of telling me to go on."

Over the band's 11 full-length albums, the themes and topics Stewart has engaged with has remained constant. "It is in the world of darkness for certain while family, politics and lovelessness in their many facets continue to be explored," Stewart begins, when asked about his obsessions. "Ideas around violence, crime, sexuality, gender, environmental apocalypse, cats, cartoons, war, death, drugs, ghosts and suicide have become repeating topics as well."

A "best-of" record was released for Record Store Day in April. "It has consumed and controlled my life and I have feel very little if any separation from it," Stewart said, looking back at the band's evolution.

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