Posted in music

Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine)

Irish musician, singer-songwriter and producer Kevin Shields was born 21 May 1965 in Jamaica Hospital in Queens, New York City, United States. Shields’ parents had emigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 1950s, when the couple were teenagers. Shields attended Christ the King, a Roman Catholic primary school. They lived in Flushing, a neighbourhood in north-central Queens, relocating to Commack, Long Island, when Shields was four, where he lived until the age of ten.

In 1973, Shields returned to Dublin, Ireland, And was raised in Cabinteely, a south-eastern Dublin suburb. He has described the experience of moving to Ireland as a culture shock, going from, the modern world to some distant past. According to Shields, the main difference between the US and Ireland that affected him was the attitude towards music culture: in the US there was no Top of the Pops, there was nothing like that, there was no MTV; and over in Ireland, everything was completely catered to for teenagers and the change was “what got him into music in a really big was. Shields received his first electric guitar, a Hondo SG, as a Christmas present from his parents in 1979 Shields befriended drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig in south Dublin during the summer of 1978, and together they answered an advertisement placed by a 12-year-old musician to form punk rock band The Complex. Ó Cíosóig’s schoolfriend Liam Ó Maonlaí from Coláiste Eoin in Booterstown was recruited as lead vocalist, and they played covers of songs by Sex Pistols and Ramones. The Complex disbanded when Ó Maonlaí left to form Hothouse Flowers, and Shields and Ó Cíosóig began rehearsing with another bassist. In 1981, the trio formed A Life in the Day, a band which focused on a more post-punk sound influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division

A Life in the Day disbanded in 1981, and Shields and Ó Cíosóig went on to form My Bloody Valentine in early 1983 with lead vocalist David Conway. On Shields’ suggestion, Conway contacted Gavin Friday, lead vocalist of the Dublin post-punk band the Virgin Prunes, who helped get them a gig in Tilburg, Netherlands, and the band relocated to the Netherlands. The band then moved to West Berlin, Germany, in 1984 and recorded their debut mini album, This Is Your Bloody Valentine before settling in London in 1985. The band recruited bassist Debbie Googe and released their debut extended play Geek! in December 1985. The band then released, The New Record by My Bloody Valentine and “Sunny Sundae Smile”. In 1987, David Conway left the band due to his gastric illness, disillusionment with music and ambitions to become a writer and was replaced by vocalist and guitarist Bilinda Butcher. My Bloody Valentine then released the three-track single “Strawberry Wine” the mini album Ecstasy, the EP You Made Me Realise (1988) and the debut studio album Isn’t Anything.

In 1989 My Bloody Valentine began recording their second album which Creation Records over-optimistically believed could be recorded in five days, however, being a perfectionist, Shields took control of the musical and technical aspects of the sessions and relocated to a total of 19 other studios and hired a number of engineers, including Alan Moulder, Anjali Dutt and Guy Fixsen. As the recording was taking so long, Shields and Creation agreed to release two interim EPs, Glider (1990) and Tremolo (1991). The Loveless album was eventually released in November 1991, and was rumoured to have cost over £250,000 and to have bankrupted Creation so Creation Records founder Alan McGee dropped My Bloody Valentine from the label soon after the release of Loveless, due to the album’s excessive recording time and interpersonal problems with Shields. In 1992, My Bloody Valentine signed to Island Records however a number of technical problems sent the band into “semi-meltdown”. Shields suffered writers block then Googe and Ó Cíosóig left the band in 1995, whilst Shields and Butcher attempted to record a third studio album due 1998, however My Bloody Valentine disbanded in 1997.

After leaving My Bloody Valentine, Shields embarked on a number of collaborations with other artists, both as a guest musician and producing, engineering, mixing and Remixing other acts. He contributed guitar loops to two Experimental Audio Research albums: Beyond the Pale and The Köner Experiment and collaborated with indie rock band Dinosaur Jr, appearing on and producing Hand It Over and Ear-Bleeding Country: The Best of Dinosaur Jr. as well as J Mascis’ More Light and The John Peel Sessions. Shields has also been a guest musician for Russell Mills & Undark, DJ Spooky, Curve, Manic Street Preachers, Le Volume Courbe, Gemma Hayes and Paul Weller and has performed with the Canadian contemporary dance company La La La Human Steps (contributing the song “2” Gemma Hayes, The Charlatans and Spacemen 3. He also worked on The Impossible’s 1991 single “How Do You Do It?”; and “Tunnel”, a track from GOD’s remix album Appeal to Human Greed. He produced Dot Allison’s Afterglow, Joy Zipper’s American Whip and The Beat Up’s Blackrays Defence and has also mixed and remixed material by The Pastels, Yo La Tengo, Damian O’Neill, Mogwai, Hurricane #1, The Go! Team, Bow Wow Wow and Wounded Knees. He is also a frequent collaborator and semi-permanent touring member of Primal Scream. He contributed guitar, produced and mixed tracks on two of the band’s studio albums: XTRMNTR and Evil Heat. Shields has remained close to the band following his departure in 2006, remastering Primal Scream’s third studio album Screamadelica (1991) in 2010 and contributing guitar to “2013”, the lead single from More Light.

In 2003, Shields contributed four original compositions to the soundtrack for Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film, Lost in Translation after being contacted by the film’s music co-ordinator Brian Reitzell. Reitzell and Shields then began impromptu jam sessions in London resulting in the single “City Girl”. Sheilds also composed three other ambient pieces u for the film: “Goodbye”, “Ikebana” and “Are You Awake? These earned Shields nominations for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for Best Film Music, an Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) award for Best Music in a Film, and an Online Film Critics Society award for Best Original Score.

In 2008, Shields collaborated with Patti Smith on the live album The Coral Sea. The double album features two performances at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, wherein Smith reads the book of the name same (which she wrote in tribute to her friend, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe) over Shields’ instrumental accompaniment. My Bloody Valentine reuntited for the 2008 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, United States. In 2008, My Bloody Valentine played two live rehearsals at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, their first public performances in 16 years. They began an extensive worldwide tour in summer 2008 (their first since their 1992 tour in support of Loveless) including appearances at Øyafestivalen in Oslo, Norway, Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Ireland, and the Fuji Rock Festival in Niigata, Japan.

In 2011, Shields launched the independent record label Pickpocket together with Le Volume Courbe frontwoman Charlotte Marionneau. In 2012 remastered versions of Isn’t Anything and Loveless were released as well as the EP’s 1988–1991 collection, which featured the band’s Shields-remastered Creation Records extended plays, singles and unreleased tracks. My Bloody Valentine’s third album “m b v” was eventually released through the band’s official website In 2013, and the band began a worldwide tour. Shields also intends to release remastered analogue cuts of My Bloody Valentine’s back catalogue and a My Bloody Valentine EP “of all-new material”, followed by a fourth studio album.


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