Thursday, March 12, 2009


"The mysterious Shawn Lee grew up in a rural area on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. His mother is half Lebanese, half American Indian, his father Irish-American. While his peers got off on cheesy corporate rock and the kind of line-dancing tunes recently fashionable in Gap ads, Shawn was groovin to the blaxploitation funk Sly and the Isleys. Later, his local Baptist Church widened his appreciation of black music, but when he sang and played drums in its gospel choir, he discovered some of his white friends were racists who disapproved. F**k this, he thought, time to leave the Mid-West but not before playing in local band Lotus with future country superstar Martina Mcbride.

Next stop Los Angeles. Already an able multi-instrumentalist (guitar, drums, perc,bass, etc) Shawn now set about developing his songwriting. There were bands, publishing deals, relationships,tours and day jobs: more notches on the bedpost of experience. Shawn was introduced to producers the Dust Brothers( post Paul’s Boutique) and spent much time hanging out, drinking cappuccinos and making mix tapes from their dusted record collection. This period also saw Shawn befriend the late Jeff Buckley, and somebody, somewhere has a tape of them jamming 'Honky Tonk Woman.'

In 1995, Shawn moved to London, where he recorded his solo debut for DJ Gilles Peterson’s Talkin Loud label. For all the wrong reasons, the album was never released. It was soul destroying; a bit like somebody erasing 3 years of your life. Resolving to write and record on his own terms, Shawn kept working. He created the infamous Planet of the Breaks series as well as 5 volumes of Ape Breaks becoming the most sampled drummer of his generation in the process. He passed CDs of songs to friends with no agenda other than hope you enjoy it. As Shawn continued to do it his way, airplay garnered by a self-financed EP prompted several major labels to phone him. He had no intention of reboarding the corporate merry-go-round. Instead, he opted to sign a deal with Mark Jones at Wall of Sound.

2004 saw the release of two Shawn Lee albums. Soul Visa (in Japan only, on Rush!) and the debut release of Shawn’s instrumental side project Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra. The first of which was entitled Music and Rhythm on Ubiquity Records. 2005 also saw two more records from Mr. Lee; Harmonium (in Japan only, on Rush!) and the second Ping Pong album Moods and Grooves....

...The third album from Shawn Lee's popular Ping Pong Orchestra, Strings and Things , features his usual smorgasboard of genre-blurring musical wizardry, from kung fu flick flavors to Bombay-bastic beats. While these mood-setting tracks might make great DJ tools, collections for sampling, or music for film, they also make for great listening...."

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