A conversation with Shantih Shantih

A conversation with local garage rock four-piece Shantih Shantih about recording their debut, refining their stage prowls, and being comfortable in darkness.


  • Peter Furgiuele
  • Julia Furgiuele (from left), Valentina Tapia, Anna Barattin, and Anna Kramer of Shantih Shantih

Peace, calm, bliss, or as T.S. Eliot put it, "the peace which passeth understanding." All of these translations for garage rock outfit Shantih Shantih are apt descriptions for the group's laid back, carefree sound that has catapulted them from obscurity to opening for the Black Lips, all in a little over a year.

I caught up with the quartet at Cameli's to talk about recording their debut, refining their stage prowls, and being comfortable in darkness.

From playing SXSW to playing on a pizza float in the L5P Halloween parade, 2013 was a huge year for all of you. How did it feel to have all of that excitement crammed into such a short time frame?

Anna B: Cheers! laughs and abundant beer clinking

Anna K: We had a nice year, it was exciting. Anna B was gone over the summer and that was a huge bummer.

Anna B: I had some problems with my visa. We were booking shows and I was in Italy and we were writing to each other and we had to cancel a couple shows. We were excited to play with Mikal Cronin and we had to cancel that.

Anna K: And we had to cancel Shannon and the Clams too.

Why do you think the band gained so much momentum over the course of a year?

Julia: We had a lot of really good opportunities.

Anna B: It's the way you approach things. We're excited. We love what we do, we hang out together, we have fun and we want to do things. We don't put down opportunities when they come. And we like the music too!

Anna K: We started recording and we're having fun doing that. It's nice to have that to offer in addition to playing a lot of shows and having a little bit of everything to offer to the people.

How have you fine tuned your live performances since your first shows last year?

Valentina: Less terror just by virtue of repetition in practice. Just doing the same thing over and over again in front of more humans and refining our signature stage prowl. Our prowls and our growls.

Anna B: You can be an amazing musician and play with amazing musicians but if you don't play long enough there's no chemistry between people. It's different now because we have this vibe going on onstage. We feel like we're one band and not just single people together. And that is a huge part of our presence.

How has the recording process been for your debut?

Julia: It's been a hard time finding time to get together with everyone working. But we've been playing shows and we've been going out of town a lot. It's been a slow process.

Anna B: It's nice to take your time so you can focus on your ideas instead of being rushed. When you have a weekend where you have to only focus on recording, it's nice. You can go back and say 'oh, I want that instrument in there!' We've been doing it at home so it's been easy to record when we have the time.

Do you have any slated release date?

Anna B: We're going to announce it soon. The %22Something Else to Drink%22 seven inch is coming out next month, but we don't have a release date yet.

What sort of influences have you been bringing into the new album?

Julia: I'm new to songwriting, Anna B's more experienced. I've only written a few songs in my lifetime. So far it's been very personal with my songwriting.

Anna B: Different things and a lot of books. I've been reading obscure, turn of the century women writers. I don't even know the name of all the short stories I read. I thought 'I can apply this to myself, and I can apply this to the music.' Whenever you write a song you know that you have an audience listening to you, so I'm aware of that and I try to write something I can apply to other people and not just myself.

Valentina: Her lyrics are super literary too, they're like little short stories in and of themselves, they have narratives.

Is the literature influence where the name Shantih Shantih came from, considering it's the closing lines to T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland?

Anna B: Yeah. It was kind of a wish and the desire for a new start. Leaving grudges behind and letting music come in. We have our own stories so we had a past behind us and we started our new thing. The idea of The Wasteland was this desert and we started constructing something new. That's the main idea.

Anna K: She moved from Italy for instance. She left behind her home, her friends and all the pasta they have over there.

Anna B, how do you translate the books you read into musical inspiration?

Anna B: It's a matter of feelings. Feeling trapped is one of the main themes. Feeling trapped in a situation, in the shadows, and past actions.__
That's interesting because your music seems to have a very easygoing, summery feel to it. Is your debut going to reflect any of those trapped feelings?

Anna K: I think our songs are hopeful, they might start dark but they come out hopeful. Anna B's got backup. She's got us.

Valentina: I feel comfortable in darkness though.

Julia: Yeah, it's fine to go through the darkness.

Anna B: Sometimes I feel bad for Ruby.

Valentina: Oh my god, I know! We have a song called "Ruby," it's about a lady who has to die someday soon. It's so sad!

Considering you've all been entrenched in Atlanta's music for awhile, how has seeing the music scene evolve effect the your musical approach?

Anna K: I've been playing for a really long time around these parts. It's changed but then it's always strong, it's always consistent. Whether you think it's strong or not, it might do more with not liking the bands that are playing here at the time. It never seems like it ever dies here. The people really support music here. You can start any tape or bands that you want to in this town. We're pretty open in that way, you can book a show anywhere, and there's a venue for your sound. It's a very nurturing town.

Valentina: It's super exciting right now too. You have fucking radical bands like the Subsonics. We're playing with them next month and we're super excited about it. This guy Lonnie Holley is amazing. He's from outer space and he's this soulful being and he plays with Bradford Cox. It's a really supportive scene.

Julia: No matter what kind of music you play, there's not really any hostility between bands or genres. We've played shows that we were a good fit for and shows where we weren't the best fit for and it's always been a fantastic response.

Valentina: I think we're a good fit for any show, personally. I think we can find a way to entertain anybody at any show anywhere.

Shantih Shantih plays the Star Bar Sat., Jan. 25, with the Coathangers and Tikka. $8-$10. 9 p.m. 437 Moreland Ave.__

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