Next Wave - Photay

Noise is, of course, everywhere in daily life – from the waterfall of the humble toilet flush to the droning hum of traffic – yet, it takes a special ear to notice sound amongst such noise, to recognise its specificity, and to incorporate it into a creative whole.

It is clear that Evan Shornstein, aka Photay, possessed such an ear for sound from an early age. Listening to “African percussion, Gregorian chants, Celtic folk, Mongolian throat singing and, of course, the Beatles” as a child at home, Shornstein’s mother soon recognized her son’s fascination with sonics and bought him tapes of ambient rainforest, ocean, and train sounds. This led to a lifelong passion, one that was informed by being “sensitive to sound, both fearful and mesmerized”. An avid drummer, Shornstein spent his high school years playing in bands while developing a knack for turntablism, making “sample heavy music, lots of breakbeats and scratching vinyl”, resulting in his debut EP, 1st, released in 2012.

A mix of natural and electronic sound, 1st was informed by Shornstein’s travels to Guinea and his subsequent learning of hand drumming and balafon, as well as the metallic synth textures used by IDM pioneers like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. Following EPs, 2014’s Photay and 2016’s Sadie, further developed Shornstein’s fascination with polyrhythmic percussion, natural textures, and manmade atmospheres, resulting in glitch-heavy sample-based tracks like ‘No Sass’, and the melody-driven vocal lines of ‘Monday’. With yet more travelling and sonic experimentation under his belt, Shornstein has just released his debut LP, Onism.

Read the rest of the feature in Clash Magazine.

[This piece was published on 21/08/17]