Filthy Kitsch – “Sound the Alarm”


Filthy Kitsch is a melodic, psych-pop project from Stockholm, Sweden, whose new single “Sound the Alarm” works on a buzzing Tame Impala-like rhythm section and spacey synth arpeggios. The brain behind the project of Joe Shackleton, previously a drummer for a number of indie bands prior to a severe joint condition forcing him to cease drumming. Still, he found that songwriting helped him explore new sounds, which culminates in the excellent new project Filthy Kitsch. Shackleton explains his experience below:

I’ll never forget the moment when I finally realised it was the end. The image is crystal clear in my mind. I was the drummer for a band I loved, playing in a cool little club in Berlin, sweaty indie kids pogoing like mad, confetti everywhere. Should have been having the time of my life. But two songs in – after only five minutes this time! – my right arm started cramping up. Familiar pain shot from my wrist to my elbow and hit my shoulder. I tried desperately to switch hands, change the beat, anything to keep the momentum going. But my arm was numb, useless, dead. I fell apart. The looks from my bandmates said it all – it was time.

I’d been suffering from joint pain and fatigue for years, and as it slowly got worse I learned to adapt. But this was a whole new level to deal with. Would I have to quit music? Could I keep my job? Scary thoughts filled my head. That year I was in and out of hospital with all kinds of symptoms while the doctors tried to work out what was going on. Life consisted of finding new ways to cope with the stress, pain and constant new symptoms. So as an attempt at therapy I started writing stuff down, trying to figure it all out. Slowly the words melted into melodies, which led to chords, which became songs.

I experimented with a new way to keep making music – piecing things together slowly, playing each instrument for just a couple of minutes at a time before the cramp set in. Just to see if it was possible. And now the first few songs are finished, I can see that my situation and my limitations have sparked a new sound. The end has become the beginning of something new. It’s pretty raw and personal (which is a little scary), but it works wonders for my mental state. So I think I’m going to keep doing this for awhile.

The track shows an electro-tinged psych-friendly pop aesthetic with hints of the ’80s merging with a contemporary shine.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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