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sharpened.lives Interview

Got to interview sharpened.lives about who they are and what they've been up to.

 


Hey, how are you today? Do you mind introducing yourselves for the readers?

Hello! We are doing well, thanks! I am st//tches (≠). My roles in the project are main songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and occasionally on the samples. I also take care of our socials and research for topics in our upcoming music. My name is ?, I am the co-songwriter, drummer, percussionist and sampler. I am ¿, bassist, backing vocalist and keyboarder for the project.


How did the idea to start sharpened.lives come about?

≠: It was probably never a proper idea, but a coincidence and work in progress. An old band of ? and me split up with two new song ideas lying around. That's how the song 'Fear and Loathing in DC' came to be, which was written in 2018 and first released in 2021. This track as well as another one called 'Almost There' will be included on the EP. Our project name sharpened.lives, originated from a play on words lives and knives, yet has taken different meanings for us as a trio. I'd still like to leave the meaning of it to the interpretation of our audience. It's fair to say the current concept and idea to mix different thematics, visual elements and soundscapes was only properly fleshed out in early 2024, coinciding with the release of 'O.R.A' in February.


I read that it took a few years to really get this project started. What was that period like and how did sharpened.lives finally take the form that it has today?

≠: Okay, this needs a short background story; I moved abroad to Groningen after the initial period in 2018-2019. There, I had a different acoustic pop duo called Wing It, but I finalized and recorded 'Fear and Loathing in DC' in November 2020. Due to the upcoming US elections that are also awaiting us this year and me being half US-American, it's a big topic of interest to me. It led me to write this song and my MA thesis about alternative as well as mainstream news distorting narratives on Youtube. I still see it as the unintended creative starting point of this project for me, with no goals or further ideas in sight back then. During 2022, I wrote another song called 'Trenches' in different countries (Netherlands, Romania, Germany), which came out in the summer of 2023. In September 2023, ¿ joined and we started planning how to bring these sounds to stages as a trio.


What would you say the main goal is with sharpened.lives?

≠: For now, to get our artistic message out there and play as many shows as we can, collaborate with other talented newcomers and find our crowd. We already wrote parts of the second EP as well, so at least creatively things are going well. We can already reveal our themes are centered around an intersectional approach to relationships, healing from trauma as well as queer perspectives. Following a certain sound is less important to us than poignant songwriting that doesn't back away from unexpected punches. We love switching things up and connecting genres to a pool of different "heavy" emotions. Now, it's time to get the word out to people who are interested in following our journey.


I saw you guys pull inspiration from a lot of genres and various artists. Can you tell me a little bit about who and what influences your music?

≠: This is probably my favourite question. We all have different artists we love, but we all appreciate heavy, gritty and industrial sounds as well as beautiful songwriting and dreamy melodies. Personally, I think the likes of Arcane Roots, Deftones, Nine Inch Nails and Loathe have a big influence on the newer songs I am writing. We are all massive Enter Shikari enthusiasts. In terms of what topics inspire our music, I'd say journalism, current world affairs as well as relationships of any kind. Traveling has also broadened my horizon to subjects and perspectives I normally wouldn't hear about in my hometown. ?: We also definitely have DnB and electronic influences in our music. Two examples would be Pendulum and The Prodigy.


Your newest single 'O.R.A' has been steadily gaining attention since its release in February. What would you say makes this track stand out in your discography?

?: It's a bit more gritty and industrial than the rest of our discography, and much darker, too. I am a fan of how it came out and am looking forward to playing it live. Phil at the Mixing Mine did very good work producing this. ≠: I also believe it has a lot to do of our approach to spreading our music. Next to understanding social media engagement, I would say I am good at approaching people outside of my bubble about music through traveling. It forms a different connection and is worth so much more than a random ad campaign.


What would you say is your favourite song to play live?

≠: I think in terms of danciness, it would be 'Breaking Point', but I have also been eager to play 'Trenches' live. F*ck it, I have to be completely honest. I just want to play every song live as soon as possible. Feels like I have been sitting on these 8 imperfect eggs, all of them showing cracks as they're being hatched. I can't wait until people hear our songs in the context of an EP.


Out of your music, what song means the most to you?

≠: 'O.R.A', and the reason is simple; the song describes one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever had in 2022. The lyrics tell the whole story in case you're interested. But from a more creative point of view, this misadventure also provided me with a lot of creative fuel for the upcoming years; I formed a proper idea of what shows could look like, how narratives connect across our music, shared experiences and social media. It's a goal of mine to create a whole world for our fans that serves as a dystopian, yet hyper realistic version of our current lives.


What other artists are you listening to at the moment?

?: vein.fm

¿: Ethel Cain

≠: STAKE


I hear you guys have an EP coming out this year, can you tell me a little bit more about how that's going and when people can expect it?

≠: It's actually still a work in progress, but I'd say EP number one is 70% done in terms of recording. We have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to piecing tracks together on record and live, which is always an exciting process full of experimentation, failure and reinvention. The EP itself will be called 'st//tches' and will be out on September 7th, 2024. I personally think it's an eclectic mix of sounds some people might just raise their eyebrows to, but to us, embracing our weirdness and expressing it in our music is the way to move forward for now. We will be presenting 'st//tches' at a release show the same day at Kontext Wiesbaden with our friend Lyink, whom I collaborated with for the single 'COLORBLIND' recently.


Is there anything else upcoming you would like to share?

≠: Well, we are going to have our first shows starting in April and lots of songs coming this year which you wouldn't expect... Let's put it this way, we don't do the regular "albums every two years" cycle.


I always like to finish off interviews with a little 'this or that' section, so...

Takeaway or homecooked?

?: Homecooked, because cooking is fun. Takeaway food works also given limited time or whilst traveling.


Instagram or TikTok?

?: We are mainly on Instagram (@sharpened.lives) as it reaches a wider audience and it's the bigger platform. Personally, we also prefer Instagram.

≠: Yeah, plus something not many people talk about is how time consuming and draining it is to create content for social media. Especially when you're in a band trying to get the word out without a set budget, label or management. Sometimes I think to myself, what purpose does this Instagram reel serve, who even cares? But it's how the modern social capital on the internet works when exposure has become a profitable interest for the platforms we are reliant on.


Play your dream venue or see any artist dead or alive live?

?: This is a hard one! We are leaning towards playing at one of our dream venues like Alexandra Palace in London - someday.


Thank you for your time, are there any final words you'd like to leave for the readers?

?≠¿: Thank you for reading and your interest in the project. are you ready for the test?


Interview with Kayleigh McKenzie


 

Listen to sharpened.lives most recent single 'O.R.A' HERE




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