photo courtesy of adam smith
the consistency of alexei shishkin’s output has made him a regular fixture on the dimestore since early 2015, when singles from the dog tape began floating listlessly through inboxes and headphones. shishkin creates the kind of bedroom guitar-pop still capable of turning heads in what’s become a very saturated market of home-recorded music; this past february’s excellent yucca street is a testament to this fact, and we’ll let our review of that album do a bit more talking.
we recently caught up with shishkin via e-mail for a quick chat about the general state of things; as a constant creator, it comes as no surprise that he’s been slowly honing a collection of seven cover songs over the past year, a multi-decade snapshot of influences filtered through his signature aesthetic. we’re more than happy to help shishkin send it off into the ether today.
the aptly-named covers premieres below, after the interview transcript. dig in.
how are things? your twitter location puts you in new york these days; has the city been conducive to songwriting?
yeah, good good. i am indeed in new york now – moved here in december. it actually hasn’t been very conducive for me, believe it or not. i’m not very comfortable making too much noise where i live right now, so that means when i practice i try to keep it down, and that’s especially shitty for trying to sing. i felt most comfortable singing and playing back in portland. while i guess that’s not actually “songwriting,” i tend to improvise most of the words anyways, so i wouldn’t say i do much songwriting, to be honest.
yucca street has been out for a few months; are you the type to let a release percolate for awhile, or have you started picking away at a new project?
if it was up to me, i’d put out everything immediately when i think it’s done. luckily, matt (at forged artifacts) tends to act as a filter, so fortunately he keeps me from releasing a bunch of half-baked garbage every week. but yeah, the next full-length thing is due out this fall, the one after that probably spring 2017. (i hope?) obviously, there’s this covers thing; i’m also doing a weird little side project called celebrity drum circle and cooking up something with my buddy connor of fjord explorer. i’m hoping to make a trip to rhode island sometime this summer or fall to big nice studio to actually properly record some stuff, maybe – that’s still up in the air.
this might be tangential to your last response, but i’ve gathered via tweets that you’re not too enamored with performing with a live band. is your sense of artistry more grounded in the act of creation and refinement of a collection of songs?
haha! that’s a very articulate way of putting it. honestly, it would be cool to have a band to write and record with, but yeah, touring and shit just seems like such a hassle: coordinating everyone getting off work at the same time, booking all the dates, finding someone with a van, hauling gear around, etc. it just seems like a logistical pain in the ass with little to no return. if i had to be part of a band, i’d rather hang around with a group of friends and write and record and just have a good time.
i listened to the original versions of the list of cover songs you sent over. some were familiar to me, but most weren’t, yet i could pick out their influence on your work pretty easily. could you speak on the significance of a couple of them and why they wound up in this collection?
“the only one” is a tune my friend ryan (pollie) of los angeles police department wrote. in a nutshell, ryan is the reason i even got hooked up with forged artifacts in the first place. without him, i didn’t even realize it was possible to release the music i recorded.
“tell me when it’s over” is a tune by the dream syndicate, a band from california that was around in the 1980s doing the jangle pop stuff (paisley underground) and they had a really great record called days of wine and roses.
“sunny” is just a fun one to noodle around on; infectious progression.
“heaven is a truck” is because i’m a pavement fanboy (sorry not sorry.)