Along with the festival-sized finger Life Is Sh*t gives to more popular music events that may or may not take place on the same weekend, he never fails to deliver a ton of talent either.
Local artists such as Black Camaro, Ted Rader’s Magic Family, Illicitor and The Acid Sisters played, as well as British punk icons The Vibrators and LA independent surf band SadGirl. This year marks the 10th edition of the DIY punk rock festival produced by Bad Moon Booking Tsvetelina Stefanova and James Howard Adams, and the first in-person version of the event at the Dive Bar since 2019, after two virtual installations.
It’s not bullshit news by any means, and neither is the bill, which includes 14 wonderful acts. One of these wonders is Evelyn Scythe (Instagram @evelynscythe) – a darkwave electronic project in the vein of Boy Harsher – led by trans artist Shiloh Shaddix, who first performed LIS in 2019 in shoegazey Laabradoor outfit.
“I was very early in my transition so I was a little nervous, but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences,” says Shaddix. “If I hadn’t played that, I don’t know if I would have played other shows, met more people and gotten used to where I am now. I am so grateful to be able to be a part of what Tsvet, James and Bad Moon together.”
Shaddix plays Evelyn Scythe on her own, but her stage presence can fill an entire room. Up there, she’s all wild energy and writhing form, her vocals haunting and resonant, echoing through her machines like a digitized siren song.
“I’m really inspired by artists working now like Arca; she’s like the next Björk to me. I love electronic artists who only have one big box, and it’s full of all sorts of gadgets… and there are cables coming out. It makes me very excited,” she says. “Over the years, I’ve been trying to collect as much as I can and learn how to make my little synths talk to each other, make noise.”
The multi-instrumentalist uses a Roland JD-Xi synthesizer with a built-in electronic drum kit for her loops and a Roland SP 404 sampler to incorporate movie dialogue and samples from favorite video games such as the horror franchise. silent Hillwhich greatly influenced its aesthetics.
“Games had a really big impact on my art,” says Shaddix, whose band name actually came from the Victorian game Blood. “[Silent Hill 2] it’s such twin peaks fever dream. It feels so good, and I really resonate with all the stories about trauma and giving yourself peace.”
The artist grew up in a strongly Mormon family in Utah, but moved to Las Vegas during her freshman year of high school in 2011. She soon dropped out. “Schools have always been very difficult for me,” says Shaddix, who struggled with dyslexia and ADHD. “And so also being gay in the closet for a long time, that was a big part of it.”
Five years ago, she began to transition. And while Shaddix says that decision caused serious family tension, it helped her become the person – and artist – she always wanted to be. “Once I was feeling so much freer, as an individual, as a woman, I really fell in love with women who like synths,” she says, discovering pioneers like Wendy Carlos, the trans musician who marked the glow and tron.
This appreciation for women like Carlos, and the intricacies of analogue, took Shaddix’s music – which originally had a more acoustic folk flavor – to new heights. She says she was inspired to incorporate all the styles she loves, including shoegaze and slowcore, into her next album. Evelyn Scythe is currently recording two tracks, which Shaddix hopes to release next month. Bassist Julian West of the Luxury Furniture Store (another act from 2022’s Life Is Sh*t) is also working with her.
While she’s proud and sees being visibly trans “enough activism already,” Shaddix admits he’s still scary as a musician. But being true to yourself is imperative.
“Pursuing art, I think, is the most beneficial thing you can do in this experience. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t pouring my heart into my instruments or anything I write,” she says. “It’s good to keep your head on your shoulders, keep encouraging yourself that you can achieve your goals and also look good. It is very important to find the self-esteem within you.”
LIFE IS SHIT September 17, 4:20 pm, free. The Dive Bar, badmoonbooking.live.