Along with the festival-sized finger that Life Is Sh*t gives to more traditional music events that may or may not take place on the same weekend, it never fails to deliver a ton of talent, too.
Local artists like Black Camaro, Ted Rader’s Magic Family, Illicitor and The Acid Sisters have played, as have British punk icons The Vibrators and indie surf band LA SadGirl. This year marks the 10th edition of the DIY punk rock festival produced by Bad Moon Booking’s Tsvetelina Stefanova and James Howard Adams, and the first in-person version of the Dive Bar event since 2019, following two virtual setups.
This is by no means shitty news, and neither is the bill, which includes 14 wonderful acts. One of these wonders is Evelyn Scythe (Instagram @evelynscythe)—an electronic darkwave project in the vein of Boy Harsher—led by trans artist Shiloh Shaddix, who first played LIS in 2019 with shoegazey band Laabradoor.
“I was very early in my transition, so I was a little nervous, but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences,” Shaddix said. “If I hadn’t played that, I don’t know if I would have gone on and played more gigs, met more people and gotten used to where I am now. I’m so grateful to be able to be a part of that. of what Tsvet, James and Bad Moon put together.
Shaddix plays Evelyn Scythe on her own, but her stage presence can fill an entire room. Up there, she’s full of wild energy and twisted shapes, her voice haunting and resonant, echoing through her machinery 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 just have one big box full of all kinds of gadgets…and there are cables spilling out. It really excites me,” she says. “Over the years I’ve tried to collect as much as I can and learn how to make my little synths talk to each other, how to make noise.”
The multi-instrumentalist uses a Roland JD-Xi synthesizer with a built-in drum machine for his loops, and a Roland SP 404 sampler pad to incorporate dialogue from movies and samples from favorite video games like the horror franchise. silent Hillwhich greatly influenced his aesthetic.
“The games had a really big impact on my art,” says Shaddix, whose band name actually comes from the Victorian game. transmitted by blood. “[Silent Hill 2] is such twin peaks fever dream. It’s so good, and I really resonate with all the stories around 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 then being this queer shut down for a long time was a big part of that.”
Five years ago, she began her transition. And while Shaddix says that decision caused serious family strain, it helped her become the person — and artist — she always wanted to be. “Once I felt a lot more free, as an individual, as a woman, I really got into women who love synthesizers,” she says, discovering trailblazers like Wendy Carlos, the trans musician who marked the brilliant and tron.
This appreciation for women like Carlos and the intricacies of analog took Shaddix’s music – which originally had an acoustic folk flavor – to new heights. She says she’s 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 Luxury Furniture Store (another Life Is Sh*t number from 2022) also works with her.
Although she’s proud and considers being visibly trans “enough activism,” Shaddix admits it’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 didn’t put my heart into my instruments or anything I write,” she says. “It’s good to keep your head on your shoulders, to keep encouraging yourself to achieve your goals and to look sexy. It’s really important to find the self-esteem in you.
LIFE IS SHIT September 17, 4:20 p.m., free. The dive bar, badmoonbooking.live.