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About Shmu

Austin-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Sam Chown makes kaleidoscopic, free-form meta-pop under the name Shmu, aggregating a wide range of styles including psychedelia, R&B, prog, and yacht rock. Mixing acoustic and electronic instruments with samples, glitched-out noise, and smooth vocal harmonies, his recordings are at once soothing and frenetic, equally filled with catchy hooks and sonic boundary-pushing. Actively recording material as Shmu since the early 2000s, highlights of the project's discography include the manic shoegaze of 2015's Shhh!!!! and the trippy new wave of 2018's Lead Me to the Glow. Aside from his solo work, Chown is also a member of neo-prog duo Zorch and has toured as the drummer for Botany and Vinyl Williams, among others. Sam Chown began playing music as a child, choosing drums as his primary instrument, but also learning other instruments such as guitar and piano. Constantly practicing and recording his progress, he improved his skills and amassed countless hours of material. He attended classes at the Berklee College of Music, where he had to take a brief hiatus from playing drums due to tendonitis. He started the band Zorch with his former college roommate Zac Traeger, eventually moving to Austin and performing live after almost a year of writing songs and developing the band's sound. Meanwhile, Chown kept recording solo work as Shmu, releasing first album Discipline/Communication in 2009; the record was given a proper reissue in 2012 through his Grand Theft Zamboni label, which was soon renamed GTZ Records. Zorch signed to Sargent House Records and released their debut album, Zzoorrcchh, in 2013; the same year, Shmu contributed to releases by Marijuana Deathsquads and Tera Melos. Shmu issued the Chroma Key EP in 2014, and the deconstructed shoegaze album Shhh!!!! appeared in 2015. A second EP, Oooze, followed in 2016. The more smoothed-out, vaporwave-influenced Lead Me to the Glow arrived in 2018; footwork producer Jlin remixed "All Will Be Erased," one of the album's most R&B-influenced tracks. Also in 2018, Chown released The Vault, Pt. 4, a collection of material dating from 2006 to 2010. He also collaborated with Christopher Royal King of This Will Destroy You under the name Private Life, issuing the prog-meets-post-punk full-length Silent Partner. Following Chown's stint as the touring drummer for Vinyl Williams, he released the fourth Shmu full-length, Vish, in 2019; Felicia Douglass (Dirty Projectors, Ava Luna) guested on the track "Jetskis in Virginia." Signing to French label Requiem Pour un Twister, Shmu's Pure Bliss arrived in 2020. ~ Paul Simpson

United States of America