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Queer Artists to Share Stage in Russian Concerts

Published: May 26, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Jamie Stewart is both singer and songwriter for post-punk group Xiu Xiu.
    Photo: Steve Louie / Wikimedia Commons

  • Psychic TV, founded by transgender performance artist Genesis P-Orridge, will join Xiu Xiu’s Russian tour.
    Photo: Dan Mandell / www.danielmandel.com

"The point of playing music is to give and never be afraid to take it too far," said Jamie Stewart, musician and songwriter from Xiu Xiu, who took time off from the band's European tour to speak with The St. Petersburg Times ahead of their Russian concerts with Psychic TV in Moscow on May 30 and St. Petersburg on June 1.

Indeed, in the 12 years since Xiu Xiu's debut album "Knife Play" in 2002, Stewart has been pushing the sonic and emotional boundaries of his music. As a songwriter, Stewart's tortured, confessional approach to songwriting, which has always used his personal life as its subject matter is often raw and disturbing, with music that is both uncomfortable but hauntingly beautiful. Unconventional and abrasive, Xiu Xiu's music meanders between experimental post-punk and harsh industrial noise, with Stewart's fragile voice always present above the chaos.

The advice was given to him by his father, Mark, a successful producer and one-time member of popular folk group The Kingston Trio, who was crucial in Stewart's early musical education, though he admitted that he grew up in a very dysfunctional household.

"There were a few years in which he was crucial in a helping me set up a studio and encouraging me. He then lost his mind and killed himself, but the idea he left me with will always be there.

He only saw us play one time before he died and it was an awful show, but he made a point of telling me to go on."

Over the band's 11 full-length albums, the themes and topics Stewart has engaged with has remained constant. "It is in the world of darkness for certain while family, politics and lovelessness in their many facets continue to be explored," Stewart begins, when asked about his obsessions. "Ideas around violence, crime, sexuality, gender, environmental apocalypse, cats, cartoons, war, death, drugs, ghosts and suicide have become repeating topics as well."

A "best-of" record was released for Record Store Day in April. "It has consumed and controlled my life and I have feel very little if any separation from it," Stewart said, looking back at the band's evolution.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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