Sxip Shirey

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Shirey with some of his tools.

Gene "Sxip" Shirey (pronounced "skip"[1]) is an American electric-acoustic composer, performer, and story-teller. He grew up in Athens, Ohio and currently resides in New York City.[2] Shirey started experimenting with found sound composition and extended instrument techniques when asked to compose music for Ohio University’s modern dance department[citation needed]. This eventually took him to New York City and he has been performing in venues ranging from underground clubs in Brooklyn[citation needed] to a TED[citation needed], to Europe[citation needed] and to the Sydney Opera House[citation needed].


His music sounds like stories. He works in the places where noise becomes music and does things that make you realize there are no boundaries between noise and music—or not like you imagine"
—Neil Gaiman in The Wall Street Journal[citation needed]

Shirey work utilizes found objects, traditional instruments, computer and modified instruments such as Industrial Flutes, Bullhorn Harmonicas, Regurgitated Music Box, Triple Extended Pennywhistles, Miniature Handbells, and other curious objects.


At the request of the American Music Center,[citation needed] Shirey developed composing workshops that drew inspiration from Ann Bogart’s Viewpoints, Foley techniques and deep listening. These workshops allow composers to develop strategies to use voice, found objects and found sounds, and extended techniques for traditional instruments to create new work.

Shirey was invited to be a guest lecturer at the Norwegian Institute of Art in February 2012 and September 2013.[citation needed] The English National Opera ran his workshop for young composers (and composing music for a short film) in March 2012[citation needed]. He has also run his workshop at Trinity College, Oxford England and for the animation department at Harvard.[citation needed]


Among Shirey's compositions are:


Previous performance highlights include Featured presenter at TED, support act for Dresden Dolls US tour,[citation needed] Ashley Capp's Big Ears Festival,[citation needed] Edinburgh Fringe,[citation needed] Adelaide Fringe Festival in Australia,[citation needed] Floyd Fest, Joe's Pub,[citation needed] The Knitting Factory[citation needed] and CBGB's in New York City.[citation needed]

Shirey has played exploding circus organ for the Daredevil Opera Company at the Sydney Opera House and the Kennedy Center,[citation needed] industrial flutes for acrobats at The New Victory Theater on Broadway,[citation needed] tamponophone with The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus at Bonaroo,[citation needed] hillbilly music for gypsies in Transylvania[citation needed].

Shirey also hosted and curated the multi-part Charm Sessions featuring live international music from NYC for Radio Scotland.[citation needed] Shirey has toured Ireland and Wales as a duo, "Sxip and Rhi" with Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.[citation needed]

Shirey has released three solo albums, three albums with The Luminescent Orchestrii and one EP on Nonesuch records as a collaboration between Luminescent Orchestrii and the Carolina Chocolate Drops.[citation needed] He has had two songs featured as NPR's Song of the Day.[citation needed]

He is the host and producer of Sxip's Hour of Charm, a variety show of cabaret acts. Hour of Charm regularly occurs in New York City, usually at Joe's Pub, but has been taken on the road to the American Repertory Theatre,[4] the Rothbury Music Festival[5] and other venues.

Musicians, artists, and sound generators who have performed with Shirey include:

Toured with Féloche.[7] and Evelyn Evelyn[8] for whom he provided an elaborate shadow puppet show. In a band called Gentlemen & Assassins with another member of Dresden Dolls, Brian Viglione and Elyas Khan of Nervous Cabaret. They performed a show at Theater Dortmund with Sonic Youth and Dresden Dolls producer Martin Bisi[9][10]

Shirey is a member of The Daredevil Opera Company[11] and is a founding member of the band Luminescent Orchestrii.[12][13]

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer made a musical instrument, called the "Sxipenspiel" for Shirey's birthday. It is made of a candlestick, pipe and bicycle bells. A sample of Neil and Sxip playing it features at the beginning of Shirey's former Gentlemen & Assassins bandmate Elyas Khan's single, "Bells".[14] [15]


External links[edit]