If you know anything about Birmingham, Alabama-based electronic artist Lindsey Shante, you know that she’s always in motion and constantly creating. For her new project, Pushi, she has written and produced a deeply personal song about loss and hope. To celebrate its release, she answered a few questions about her life and her music, and she took the opportunity to call out the folks and circumstances that profoundly hurt her but also provide inspiration for this latest work. Check out all that she has to say about the heartbreak, the anger, the rebellion, and the hope, and then listen to “Pray.”
Tell me about Pushi.
Pushi is an outlet to express my sassy sadness. I call it like southern gothic/texturecore/retro mod/synthtronica/trancewave or something. The name Pushi is a derivative of pushy but I later learned on Urban Dictionary it is slang for ‘sushi you made yourself and messed up’ or ‘pussy’, haha, yesssss. Meow, ya girl can work it.
I feel like I’m always pushing myself, pushing back on society and being pushed out or excluded. I’m over being called bossy, rebellious, and intense; I’m over being used. I know what I want, I go against the grain, I grind hard af and I’m gonna PUSH until ‘i’ get it.
FYI, I make really good homemade sushi.
What is the moment behind your new release, “Pray?”
My parents have always disapproved of my lifestyle, choices and they use religion to manipulate and control others. They took custody of my daughter when she was two (a few weeks after I weaned her) because I wasn’t Christian enough, self-medicated with marijuana not the addictive pain pills/muscle relaxers my doctor was prescribing me (for back pain after nine car wrecks), and chose to not vaccinate until she started school. I had a 48-hour natural birth and breast fed for two years. Separating us was one of the most traumatic events I have ever experienced. We cried for each other for months, but they wouldn’t let me see her. They kicked me out of the small barn loft Juni and I lived in on their property. Her father has never helped me raise her, and I needed their help. I moved back to Alabama because I needed their help as a single mom. They lied and told me they would never try to take her from me and betrayed me when I was out of town. I came back to town with no home, car, or baby. I wanted to kill, I wanted to die. It was all I could do to contain Momma Bear mentality and not go Kill Bill. I held it in. I pushed through it. Even though I knew I was a good person, and I knew it was unjust and I didn’t deserve it, but they had all the money and I had nothing. I was homeless, unemployed, alone, and back in Birmingham after being gone eight years. It was the most desperate I have ever felt.
I begged and I tried reasoning with my parents and meeting them in the middle but they want my daughter for themselves. They think they failed at raising my brother and I because I’m a “liberal, drug addict artist” and my brother is “one of them gays”. They want my daughter as their third chance to raise the perfect blond cheerleader Christian girl that I never was. And thus far they are getting it.
I’m a better person since I pushed religion out of my life. I can’t count the times I have heard my mother say in a condescending, snide voice, “I’m praying for you” or “all your problems would be fixed if you just turned your life over to the lorrrrrrd.” Religion, specifically Christianity, has caused more violence and suffering in our world and in my life than about anything else. It is my choice to believe or not believe, and I never want to believe IN a thing or being. I want to forever be open and forever absorbing new knowledge. I never want to just hold on to a belief, I want to go beyond. For me prayer or a spell (yeah i think basically same thang) is focusing your mind powers (yessss magikal mind POWERS) on your intentions, desires and a meditation in a way to train your thoughts to put out the frequency you want returned. Before this song I was filled with dread every time I heard the words, “I’m praying for you!” It was insulting and a cop-out way to not help someone in need. I have been physically/emotionally abused by people that follow a (likely fictional) character that teaches love, humility, and forgiveness. My parents eat processed foods and sodas, they do not care about the earth/environment, they voted for a president that disrespects/abuses women and immigrants, they are racist, sexist, and homophobic, they don’t care that they have traumatized their own children and now granddaughter, and they have no empathy for others. I’m truly concerned for their well-being and my daughter’s, but we all know how karma work so . . . Mom, I’m praying for YOU!
What was your inspiration for the video?
I wanted to give viewers a glimpse into isolation, entrapment, perseverance, living on the edge, dark, southern, religious traditions, overcoming death, and theoretical tombs like depression, neglect, disfunction, abandonment, and betrayal. Like getting dressed up with all the feels of going to the funeral of your arch nemesis. Satisfaction for being true to oneself yet deep sadness of what could be. Breaking through the veil, building up and hoping for a future of resolution.
How is this project different from your other projects and collaborations?
Well this is the 12th project name I have written music, recorded, collabed or performed under:
Lady Shante, Fainted Paces, Sea Cycles, Ritual Union, Grammar Tree, Personal Boy, Helen, Helen of Coi, U, Future Elevators, Little Girl, Quarry and now Pushi.
Little Girl, Quarry & Pushi are my current monickers.
Follow me on IG @littlegirlsong @pushipushipushi @songoftheforest to peep the latest.
Each one is a chapter that reflects a different Lindsey and the many lives I’ve lived. Each one gets deeper, more poignant, more minimalistic – like shedding layers. As I get better at processing pain the music and words are more freely expressed and with more care.
When you go through real trauma, the little annoyances and every day problems don’t seem as bad. You don’t think about them with the same negativity.
Pushi is the fighter in me. I’ve fought for my life and now I’m fighting for my rights and fighting for my sweet daughter, Juni. Nothing else matters, I’m Pushi & I WILL reach my dreams. I WILL PUSH anything out of the way of that, sometimes unintentionally.
Would you describe Birmingham as a supportive music scene?
There is a music scene here, mostly garage, punk, bro rock, folk/singer songwriter-ish. I am like one of three female electronic artists in town and one of the only female producers I know of here, which is why I started Girls Rock Bham back in 2013 – a non profit that offers unique musical performance opportunities & educational opportunities to girls of all backgrounds/demographics.
Bham has been supportive at times and in certain ways, but I started my own production company a few years back because the events/scene that existed here weren’t quite my cup of bergamot tea. So, I began hosting my own shows, festivals, and events and booking my own tours, as well as providing performance opportunities for like-minded/genre-bending/oppressed minority artists. I’m creating an ideal scene for myself, my friends, and fellow musicians and artists.
Check out Golden Hour Productions on FB or @goldenhourbham on IG to see what has been happenin’.
How did you develop an interest in music?
Well they did put me in piano lessons at age five, when I was plucking out Elvis songs on the piano by ear. They made me sing solos at church and sing in the choir. In high school, they decided to leave this hick southern baptist church and made us go to a pentecostal church where I played keys & sang in a praise band Paul Janeway of St. Paul & the Broken Bones, haha. Glad we both made it out to the other side. They also put me in classical voice lessons, which set me up for getting a vocal scholarship to UAB and UNF. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in classical music I went through a period when I dreaded music. All the opera rehearsals and voice professors that discouraged my interest in modern classical, avant garde, atonal, early chant (like from the 1600s) made me feel like I didn’t have a place in music, like I was unrealistic and would never be good enough to be successful.
Looking back, I realize they were trying to push me to be better because they thought I was wasting my talent or had an agenda for what they thought I should do with my talent. I also realized I had never written a note, but had only read music off of a page. I felt stupid for getting a music degree, and I was going through a divorce, and I wanted to give up music forever. Soon after, riding my bike one day, I met my daughter’s father. He had a guitar on his back and we went to a park and he played a song he wrote for me. He found out I sang and played keys and asked if I wanted to play in his band. I was hesitant and shy at first; I had never improvised or “jammed.” I kept trying and was encouraged every time I explored new ways to sing or tweaked out a weird synth texture. A friend let me borrow their Microkorg XL and I began playing synth in the band too. Soon I was recording my own original vocal/synth riffs & writing minimal lyrics. Next thing I knew I was in 3 bands. I still keep my classical chops up for when the $$$ is right and it definitely shaped the way I write/approach music whether I want it to or not, but my artistic direction is light years away. I feel like I actually had to forget what I learned all those years to let my true voice out.
BTW, now my mom tells me my music is bad, and I should just quit all together and go work at Walmart. :sighs:
What are some of your current influences?
Tirzah, Kelly Lee Owens, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, M.I.A., Ghostmane, FKA Twigs, Gary Newman, always Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson & Little Dragon, St. Vincent, Burial, Rival Consoles, Daphni, Weval, John Maus, Jamie xx, Peaches, Missy Elliot, Lorn, Theophilus London, Tierra Whack, Pastel Ghost, Nicolas Jaar, Actress, Kaytranada, Toro y Moi, Shigeto, The Magnetic Fields, Jon Hopkins, Mr. Fingers, Depeche Mode, Clio, Tim Hecker, Four Tet, Aphex Twins
What’s on the horizon for you?
Pushin’ for success & stability for my little girl. Keepin’ all the hope.
The custody trial is set for August & there ain’t a thing that is going to keep me from getting my sweet baby back in my life.
If you relate to my story & enjoy my work please send love & support.
You can purchase the Little Girl EP ‘Outside’ here if you wish:
Also check my latest Little Girl vid here:
On the music front I’m going on a lil’ tour to (Mobile, Nola, Jacksonville, ATL, Athens, Huntsville) July 24th-30th to mentally prepare, rejuvenate, and celebrate the Quarry EP release. I will also continue curating super cool, unique art/music events under Golden Hour. Be looking out for the Golden Hour livestream sessions on the Golden Hour Productions FB page this Fall!
Besides that my goal is to record/release another Little Girl video EP at the end of the Fall and a Pushi mixtape & vid with Step Pepper Records & then tour South America, Europe & Asia next year. My baby girl and I gonna explore the world together and we are gonna be so happy.
Mainly for now though I just gotta keep on pushin’ & prayin’.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Lindsey’s new video “Pray” above! And our sincere thanks to Aaliyah Taylor (@nottodaygirl on Instagram) for the fierce photos.