|Birth name||Azalia Snail|
|Born||Maryland, United States|
|Genres||Psych folk, indie rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, filmmaker|
|Instruments||Guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals|
|Labels||Funky Mushroom, Dark Beloved Cloud|
|Associated acts||Susanne Lewis, LoveyDove, Trumans Water|
Azalia Snail is an American avant-garde singer-songwriter and musician. She is a multi-instrumentalist active in psych folk and indie rock, and played a prominent role in the 1990s lo-fi music scene She was later dubbed the "Queen of lo-fi".
Snail has made twelve solo albums between 1990 and 2015 and won the Los Angeles LA Weekly Music Award for Best New-Genre/Uncategorizable Artist in 2000. She has also written film scores for several indie features and short films.
Azalia Snail (her real name) was born in Maryland to hippie parents, and was named after the azaleas that grew near their home. At the age of about six her mother persuaded her to take piano lessons, and while Snail coped, she was "frustrated by the whole disciplinary process". This prompted her to switch to guitar, which gave rise to more lessons, and more musical discipline. When she was 15 Snail bought an electric guitar, against her parent's wishes who wanted her to play acoustic instruments. She was forced to return the guitar and she told her mother "That's all I want in my life – this guitar."
After high school, Snail left home and moved to New York City where she worked as a writer. In 1987 she started jamming with other musicians in bars, and then branched off on her own to record her own music. In the late 1980s she sent some of her material to a radio show called "Lo-Fi" on WFMU in New Jersey. The DJ there played her songs regularly, and soon she became known as the "Queen of lo-fi". Snail later distanced from the lo-fi label, saying that her music is now professionally recorded. But the exposure she gained on the radio show prompted her to start performing on her own. In the 1990s she toured North America and Europe with several bands, including Low, Trumans Water and The Grifters.
Snail's music shunned conventional melody and often included elements of noise. Her unconventional approach to music was influenced, in part, by her experiences with hallucinogenics. In the early 1990s she occasionally used LSD and magic mushrooms to enhance her perceptions. Though she has never used hallucinogenics since, she said: "I'm a big believer in Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley and a lot of important philosophers who have all taken drugs to expand their horizons. I don't think you have to keep doing it throughout your whole life, and I don't believe everybody needs that, but it definitely turns you on to a whole new world and possibilities. I was interested in experiencing some of the things my favorite writers, artists and musicians have. I wanted to feel how they felt."
In the 1990s Snail made eight solo albums, writing all the songs herself. The albums generally featured a few guest musicians, but Snail played most of the instruments herself, including guitars, zithers, keyboards, theremin and percussion. She also engineered and produced many of the albums herself.
Snail moved to Los Angeles in December 1999 to work in film. There she collaborated with filmmaker Sadie Benning on a video shown on MTV. She has also written film scores for several indie features and short films, including the soundtrack to MTV's Ain't Nuthin' But a She Thing. In 2000 Snail and Brad Laner/Electric Company shared the Los Angeles LA Weekly Music Award for Best New-Genre/Uncategorizable Artist.
Snail has since made another two solo albums, Brazen Arrows (2001) and Avec Amour (2006). The New Zealand-based Powertool record label released Petal Metal in 2008, a two-CD retrospective of Snail's work. She also toured New Zealand in January 2010. I. Khider in Perfect Sound Forever described Snail as an "adept indie rocker" with a "quirky, creative edge".
Since 2012 she has been in the band LoveyDove with her husband multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Dan West. The debut album was released in 2014 by LAs Fine.
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