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In an era of total exposure, when albums regularly exceed two hours long and artists increasingly treat songwriting as a puzzle box to be solved by legions of adoring fans, New York-based band Chanel Beads strike a different chord. Their 2022 breakout single ‘Ef’ still sounds utterly singular, an electro-acoustic freakout with the brisk efficiency of a girl group song. Processed in a way that suggested a gaggle of toddlers on a sugar high, the duetting voices of frontman Shane Lavers and his partner Maya Collette sounded degendered, incorporeal, as they weaved around guitar thrums and bleary synth washes. References to self-harm and immolation by fire heightened the song's cute-creepy dynamic, as did its merry-go-round finale, less climaxing than perpetually ratcheting in intensity. 

'Ef' garnered considerable acclaim, and two years later, the three-piece have returned with Your Day Will Come, their debut album released on Jagjaguwar in April. Ominous in name and sound, it is a haunted house of an album, full of abrupt samples, cliffhanger endings, and swerves into ambient and acoustic balladry. It strikes as a quintessentially post-Covid release, thick with the strangeness of confronting global forces you have no agency over, awaiting a resolution that may only bring more uncertainty. Yet the portent of that title can be read as a promise as much as a threat, and beneath the album’s greyscale obscurity lies a tender, even optimistic heart. “Changes come,” insists early highlight 'Police Scanner', something of a mission statement for the Chanel Beads project. “Something strange, yeah / Something new”.

Listen to Chanel Beads’ TANK Mix below, and read our interview, in which Shane discusses alienation tactics and making political art.

TANK When I listen to Chanel Beads, there's a real sense of in-betweenness: between a male voice and a female voice, the synthetic and the real, sadness and optimism. Do you see your process as navigating these spaces?
CB My thinking patterns are very ping-pong. I struggle with being too hyperbolic a lot of time: things are either the best thing or the worst thing. As soon as I feel really strongly about something, I have to explore the opposite of that emotion. I try to keep that initial push, the struggle to not soften something and accept its inverse.

TANK You've spoken about in the past that when you're writing music, you're trying to channel eureka moments, instances of true revelation. Where does doubt sit in your practice? 
CB It looms large over everything I do. I've always described the music I make as that second where it all makes sense, and then watching it all unravel. I think that's where the idea of liminality comes from. Things coming together and apart is the verb of the music, the action. 

TANK How was SXSW?
CB It’s a weird zone, it’s not my preferred way of running music. Every show was really fun, though.
TANK Given the geopolitical context surrounding the festival, it has thrust artists into an uncomfortable position [this year’s SXSW featured the involvement of defence contractor RTX Corporation, a subsidiary of BAE Systems and a client of the Israeli Defence League]. Did that ring true with your experience?
CB Yeah, totally. I feel like everyone has a complicated relationship with what art should do in these contexts. I have strong opinions about politics and the defence industry, but I've always felt like the art I make is about a certain set of specific emotions that doesn't warrant a galvanising, unifying position. The way I've put it to friends is that I'm interested in confusing emotions. If there's a genocide going on, I don't think that my mopey, confusing song has anything to add to that. I'm also pretty cynical about the political effectiveness of certain art while being inspired by it at the same time. 

TANK Do you feel the same way about biography in art as you do about politics? Would you say that your songwriting is speaking to some kind of exposing experience of truth, like the whole Taylor Swift approach of constantly dropping easter eggs into her songs?
CB I've always thought it would be annoying if I was too mysterious for no reason, but at the same time, there's lots of stuff that I don't want to talk about because it has nothing to do with the music. I find a lot of biographical details boring. I always thought that I was making very revealing music and then no one knows what the fuck I'm talking about! But whenever I'm making music, I'm never thinking about what someone else is taking from it. If I do, I always assume that people are exactly on the same page as me. I'm the listener that I'm trying to imagine. 

TANK What input do Maya and Zachary have in crafting the songs?
CB Usually I have the song for the most part. If I'm like, dang, it needs something, that's where Zach does really well. I live with Maya, and she’s there to push it throughout. A good Chanel Beads song will have Maya making sure that I can defend my artistic decisions. Some songs took until mastering for her to get it. There’s a huge element of “Let me show you how good this could be,” or “You could make this better”. We both get bored quickly, so we'll often make a song and take a razor to it. Both of us want to hear something that is super unexpected from each other, especially if we’ve heard something similar from someone else. That's where the competitiveness comes from, if one of us goes like, “Oh, that sounds like this person”, the other will be like “Fuck you, I’ll show you!”

TANK How do you relate to the idea of being a frontman?
CB I don't think about it at all. I’m more thinking about the details of, okay, this is the setup for how we play, what do I do? I've given myself the task of not playing an instrument or triggering anything or touching the electronics. I was compelled by that. 
TANK What do you do? 
CB I just stare at the audience. If I did something inconsequential – some kind of electronic thing just to give myself something to do on stage – that would feel wrong. But it feels active in its own way. It's the attitude of “A bear is charging at you, if you run you’re fucked. Don’t let them see how scared you are”. Performing is a delicate balloon and I don't want any of the air to come out.

TANK I’ve played 'Police Scanner' to two friends. One of them said, “This is what falling in love feels like” and the other said, “This sounds like what breaking up feels like”. It’s interesting how both responses can emanate from the same song.
CB The goal is to make a song that's like a mirror. Revealing for the person and revealing for yourself.

TANK How did the album artwork come about? 
CB A few years ago, I found Peder Severin Krøyer’s paintings. A lot of it feels like stuff you would find at a thrift store. I liked that some of it felt very distant and some of it felt immediate and clear. We cropped it and I was like, wow, this is kind of captivating. Cropping it made it mean something different to me. I've said it in other interviews, but the thing that I like most about art is when you get your own angle on it as a participant. It becomes this private relationship that only you have because there's this one angle that only you can reach: the one you've made for yourself. ◉

Your Day Will Come is out now. Photo by Lauren Davis.