An Interview With Shed Muzak
Take a moment to purvey YouTube's 'Music' category and there's considerable odds that you'll stumble across one of two things. The first of which will be all-too-familiar with regular viewers of music videos on the video-sharing website: the presence of VEVO and traces of the music monopoly it has built through the site. The second is the wealth of renditions of popular music by artists largely unknown outside of subscriber-bases and online fans. Shed Muzak might very well fit into the latter category, but it'd be remiss to take the group for granted as yet another band whom methodically recreate songs word-by-word, beat-by-beat, such is the large proportion of videos therein.
Instead, pop music is but the foundations for which Shed Muzak builds its own highly inventive, brilliantly unique and distinctive covers upon. Indeed, the group – based in Sydney, Australia - has now covered a diverse array of songs; from catchy mainstream pop music (Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream', Coldplay's 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall') to more sedate renditions of progressive rock hits (Muse's 'Time Is Running Out') via incredibly faithful a capella offerings of club-favourite house and techno music (Example's 'Changed The Way You Kiss Me', Calvin Harris's 'Bounce') in a way that transforms the original piece both stylistically and atmospherically.
“We like the catchiness of pop tunes,” says Shed Muzak's Tom Swanton when asked about the group's musical style, “but we try to take a bit more of a technical approach to the music. Pop music is popular for a reason – many people enjoy singing along to the songs they hear on the radio. We just like doing that with our instruments. We just wanted to put our own twist on them and have fun and see what would happen. I think [you'd call us] 'progressive pop'!”
Since forming just over a year ago while at university; Tom, Jacqui, Ben and Ludo as Shed Muzak have built up a legion of devoted fans and racked up over 500,000 views on their YouTube channel, with shout-outs from the likes of celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and artists Calvin Harris, Flight Facilities and Bag Raiders (all covered by Muzak) helping raise the group's profile. “The year's gone pretty quickly, but we find we have more fun as we go along,” says Tom, “Being tweeted by some of the original artists has definitely been a highlight of it all.”
“Originally, we just met up every so often to jam, but I think the essence of Shed Muzak originated when Jacqui brought along a cover of Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream' that we jammed on one Sunday afternoon,” Tom informs us. “We then quickly pulled together a little video, put it up on YouTube for our friends to watch, and everything else that has happened pretty much came from there...”
But what started as Sunday-morning jamming sessions has now morphed into regular YouTube appearances form the quartet, with covers often suggested by fans. With just one original track to their name to date – the adequately-named 'Troll' for the YouTube audience – the group is soon to be releasing an EP of originals that is sure to display the flair of musical talents the group obviously possess with the creativity associated with song-writing that comes with it. “We've been writing stuff and doing some pre-production recently,” teases Tom, “We're about to start recording and we're heaps keen for it!”