Bristol (UK) based four-piece Shoun Shoun play unflinching, atmospheric dream pop and art garage rock wlth the urban ennui of Nico mixed with the noise of Sonic Youth with a certain Velvet Underground elegance. The band is fronted by vocalist/songwriter and guitarist Annette Berlin, who has spent years battling ferocious noise in Bristol bands like Big Joan and The Final Age, but felt an uncontrollable urge to connect with music in a more intimate way. I asked Annette some questions.
For those who may not have heard of you, can you give me a brief history of the band and how the band came together?
“After years of battling ferocious noise – oh, beautiful crazy experimental Big Joan where I would sing through an old phone receiver and bash a metal bin – I felt an uncontrollable urge to connect with music in a more intimate way. I called time on existing projects and started Shoun Shoun. At first there was just me writing at home, but then a first gig offer came in and I asked Boris (violin/synth/vox) to join me. He stayed, and we got Ole on bass and Giuseppe on drums to give it some more oumph. I think it’s working.”
You’re originally from Berlin. How did you end up in Bristol?
“I always wanted to live and work abroad. I went via Amsterdam, London and then Southampton which is where we formed Big Joan to fight boredom. The whole band moved from there to Bristol, and we’re all still here. One morning I woke up and realised that I wanted to stay. It’s a good place to be if you’re into music.”
How did the band get their name?
“One day I just thought I want to start a band called Shoun Shoun (‘shoon-shoon’). It’s inspired by this amazing Japanese artist called Yamamoto Shōun. Nobody knows how to pronounce our band name though… Slight downside I suppose. I think it looks cool.”
Are there any bands that have influenced your sound?
“Yes, many: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tortoise, Add N to X, Nadine Shah, Gary Newman, Ennio Morricone, Sonic Youth.”
What artists are getting you excited at the moment?
“Big Thief, Sault and Viagra Boys are very cool.”
You’ve recently released an album and did an album release show. Are you planning any more live shows?
“The launch was amazing! We had The Sounds of Ursa and Repo-Man playing as well. Check them out! We have lots of shows in the pipeline. More than we’ve ever had, which is nice.”
What has been your favourite performance to date and why?
“It’s got to be our album launch which happened end of January at Rough Trade Bristol. The room was hot and sweaty and filled with an awesome audience. We were the happiest band ever that night.”
Do you have any specific rituals or do anything before heading out on stage?
If you could open a show for any band or artist of your choice, who would you pick?
“NY band Bodega would a be great one to open for. But if I could take my pick? Yeah Yeah Yeahs.”
Let’s go back to your recently released album ‘Monster & Heroes’. What’s your personal favourite on the album?
“I love playing ‘Toxic’. It’s edgy, dark. But then again, most of our songs are edgy and dark…”
What can you tell me about your creative process?
“Well… Usually I bring the initial song idea and the lyrics and then we take it from there and work on it together. Also Boris and I regularly jam to come up with random noisy and weird bits. And then I take the rehearsal recordings home to tweak and twist the arrangements.”
When entering the studio how clear-cut is your vision of what shall come out in the end?
“We just hope for the best.”
Is there a specific sound, influence, or technique that you have always wanted to find a way to incorporate your music, but haven’t yet been able to?
“Not really, I just love being inspired and then try to create our own thing from those inspirations.”
What does the future hold for Shoun Shoun?
“Let me find out…”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?
“The Kairos – Round The Bend. It rocks and has got an edge. Nice.”
What song would you like to add as a bonus track?
Shoun Shoun are: Annette Berlin (vocals/guitar), Boris Ming (violin/synth/vox), Ole Rudd (bass) and Giuseppe La Rezza (drums).
You can catch them live on the following dates:
18/03 Paradiddles, Worcester
19/03 Glastonbury Calling, Glastonbury
30/04 Royal Oak, Bath
01/05 Astral Fest, Bristol
28/05 Dot to Dot, Bristol
09/07 Somerstock, Somerton
16/07 The Godney Gathering, Godney
03/09 BOSfest, Burnham-on-Sea
04/11 Vinyl Tap, Preston
05/11 The Grove, Leeds