Michael Gira performing at The Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR. March 03, 2009.
|Birth name||Michael Rolfe Gira|
February 19, 1954 |
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Genres||Experimental rock, post-punk, avant-garde, alternative rock, post-rock, folk rock, industrial|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, musician, producer, author|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards|
|Labels||Young God Records
|Associated acts||Swans, Angels of Light, Devendra Banhart, Little Cripples, Circus Mort, The Body Lovers, Skin, World of Skin|
Michael Rolfe Gira (/ /) (born February 19, 1954) is an American musician, author, and artist. He is the main force behind the New York City musical group Swans and fronts Angels of Light. He is also the founder of Young God Records.
Early life 
Gira lived with his parents in a relatively affluent suburb of Los Angeles, California though they divorced when he was a young teenager. After staying with his alcoholic mother for much of his youth, he was sent to live with his father in Indiana and then Paris.
He ran away from home and hitch-hiked across Europe, and was finally arrested for selling drugs in Israel. Although he was only a teenager at the time, he was placed in an adult prison for four and a half months. His father found Gira with the aid of Interpol and sent him back to the United States.
Early musical career 
Back in Los Angeles, he played in a band called Little Cripples (later to become Bpeople with LAFMS alumni Fredrik Nilsen and Tom Recchion) and enrolled in art school and imagined that he would someday be a visual artist (Gira sketched obsessively); however, he soon became disillusioned with the elitism and academia surrounding the art world and dropped out. However, Gira's interest in art is known to have affected his music; The Angels of Light song "Inner Female" is a study of Francis Bacon.
In 1979 Gira moved to New York City in order to start a band; he was influenced by No Wave and noise artists like Suicide and Glenn Branca. He played with the band Circus Mort before forming Swans. Before achieving success with his music, Gira worked many jobs in construction and demolition. He also began a short-lived art magazine, No.
Initially, Swans' focus was raw rhythm and abrasive textures, usually eschewing melody for visceral power. They became known for their abrasive experimental and post-industrial sound. Their commercial success was limited, but Swans earned much critical notice and had a devoted following.
The band's lineup and sound evolved over time, and their music became somewhat more conventional. A marked shift in Swans' music came with inclusion of Gira's partner, Jarboe, who added her ethereal voice and synthesizers to the group in 1985. Gira and Swans spent the next twelve years releasing studio, live, and side-project albums. Gira's frustration with the various record labels grew over time, and he disbanded Swans in 1997. However, in 2010, Gira decided to revive the band, with members new and old. They released a new album titled My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. A second post-revival album, The Seer, was released in 2012.
Solo career and Angels of Light 
After dissolving Swans in 1997 Gira released a solo album under his own name and began a new musical direction with Angels of Light, which are a quieter, more acoustic-based group than Swans.
Gira also spent time experimenting with soundscapes, found sound, and loops with The Body Lovers project. He has also released several albums under his own name including Drainland (1995), The Somniloquist (2000, a spoken word album), and What We Did (2001), a collaboration with Windsor for the Derby's frontman Dan Matz.
Gira founded his own record label, Young God Records, which has released albums from such artists as Devendra Banhart, Mi and L'au, and Akron/Family as well as Swans, The Angels of Light and The Body Lovers' back catalogues.
Gira has spoken of his decision to shift his focus from The Angels of Light to Swans as a move based on impassivity. He has stated, "I had been doing this band Angels of Light for thirteen years, and had reached a kind of impassivity with that, sorta like I had reached an impassivity with Swans when I initially stopped it."
Gira's short story collection The Consumer (ISBN 1-880985-26-8) was published in 1995 by Henry Rollins's 2.13.61 publications. It is divided into two parts, the first being "The Consumer", a series of short stories from the early 1990s, the second, "Various Traps, Some Weaknesses", made up mostly of prose-poems and vignettes, all dating from 1983–1986. (Many of these earlier stories had previously been published by SST Records as Selfishness, with illustrations by Raymond Pettibon.) The stories contain many disturbing images and scenes including incest, identity loss, murder, self-hatred, rape, and both mental and physical decay.
Michael Gira is known for using a Guild antique burst electro acoustic guitar, and a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier during his solo concerts. In recent Swans performances, he has been using a modified Gibson Lucille through Orange amplifiers.
Solo discography 
|1985||A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse (compilation)||Giorno Poetry Systems|
|1988||Shame, Humility, Revenge||Product Inc.|
|1999||Jarboe Emergency Medical Fund (live)|
|2000||Somniloquist||Young God Records|
|2001||What We Did (With Dan Matz)||Young God Records|
|2001||Solo Recording At Home||Young God Records|
|2002||Living '02||Young God Records|
|2004||I Am Singing To You From My Room||Young God Records|
|2006||Songs for a Dog||Lumberton Trading Co.|
|2010||I Am Not Insane||Young God Records|
- California Births, 1905 - 1995, Michael Rolfe Gira (Birth Date: 02/19/1954, County of Birth: Los Angeles)
- "Spinning on Air: The Angels of Light". WNYC. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- "Waxing lyrical: Swans' Michael Gira on his love of words". Guardian. 2011-04-21. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
- "Circus Mort". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- "Michael Gira Interview on Crasier Frane". Crasier Frane. October, 20 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
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