|Birth name||Azalia Snail|
|Born||Philadelphia, United States|
|Genres||Neo-psychedelia, psychedelic folk, indie rock, lo-fi|
|Occupation(s)||Musician - Singer-Songwriter - Filmmaker|
|Instruments||Guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals|
|Labels||Funky Mushroom, Dark Beloved Cloud|
|Associated acts||Susanne Lewis, LoveyDove, Trumans Water, d'Animal, Staff Party|
Azalia Snail is an American avant-garde singer-songwriter and musician. She is a multi-instrumentalist active in neo-psychedelia, psychedelic folk and indie rock, played a prominent role in the 1990s lo-fi music scene, and was dubbed the "Queen of Lo-Fi". She is one half of the duo LoveyDove.
Early life and influences
Azalia Snail was born in Philadelphia to hippie parents, and was named after the azaleas that grew near their home. At the age of six, her mother persuaded her to take piano lessons, and while Snail agreed, 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. At 15 years old, 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 on doing so, told her mother, "That's all I want in my life - this guitar."
Snail cites Lou Reed as her biggest musical influence, in particular his albums Coney Island Baby and Rock and Roll Heart. She also credits Brian Eno, T Rex, Patti Smith, The Kink Kronikles, and The Troggs Tapes as significant influences.
After graduating high school, Snail moved to New York City and worked as a writer. In 1987, she began jamming with other musicians in bars, including Fly Ashtray in The Bronx, and soon branched off on her own to record solo music. In the late 1980s, she sent samples of her material to a radio show called "Lo-Fi" on WFMU in New Jersey. The station's DJ played her songs regularly, and she soon became known as the "Queen of Lo-Fi". Snail later distanced herself from the lo-fi label, saying that her music is now recorded professionally. However, the exposure she gained on the radio show prompted her to start performing as a solo artist. During the 1990s, she toured North America and Europe with multiple bands, including Low, Trumans Water and The Grifters.
Snail's music shuns conventional melody and often includes 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 says, "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."
During the 1990s, Snail wrote and recorded eight solo albums. The albums generally featured several guest musicians, but Snail played the majority of the instruments herself, including guitars, zithers, keyboards, theremin and percussion. She also engineered and produced many of the albums.
Snail has since recorded two additional 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".
In 2011, Snail released the album Celestial Respect. It included Jeff Levitz on guitar and bass, Kevin Litrow on guest vocals, and Taylor Wheeldin on trumpet. Described as "a tribute to the spaciousness and atmosphere of the celestial beyond & within", it featured the tracks Solar Riser, Space Heater, User System, Fallen Down and Burnt Cookies. Left Hip Magazine's reviewer Michael Byrne described Celestial Respect as, "a hopeful space pop melodrama, that seeks to reignite human kindness through music that feels and sounds electronic and mechanical, creating an intriguing dichotomy to muse over while listening."
In February 2018, Snail released the album Neon Resistance to positive reviews. Daniel Sylvester of Exclaim! said the album "beams with joyousness and youthful vigour." In an interview, she stated that the theme of the album is: "Staying true to yourself, your vision, and the ones to whom you surround yourself. The resistance, after all, is irresistible."
While residing in New York City in the 1990s, Snail first collaborated with filmmaker Sadie Benning to score the music for a video shown on MTV. She then relocated to Los Angeles in December 1999 to work in film, where she wrote film scores for several independent feature films and short films, including the soundtrack to MTV's Ain't Nuthin' But a She Thing. She also scored three feature films for Christopher G. Fieri.
Since 2012, she has been one half of the band LoveyDove, along with her husband, the multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer Dan West. LoveyDove's debut album was released in 2014 by LAs Fine. Snail has expressed a love of collaboration, saying, "Collaboration has always been beneficial and appealing to me. I wouldn't have made all this music without the contribution of so many people."
Snail Meets West, released by Union Pole in 2015, is the free jazz duo of indie mainstay Azalia Snail and psychedelic maestro Dan West. Both have a long resume of various pop and roll projects, including LoveyDove. Snail Meets West is a tribute to the late free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman who influenced many musicians. Snail plays drums and West plays piano.
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