A conversation with Kevin Shea


    Kevin Shea pulled no punches while telling us about infinity, Möbius strips, environmentally conscious farming, and extinguishing your ego.

    Can the donkey eat milk off the back of a broken eagle?


    Julien Fernandez

    What’s your understanding of physical geography as an adult? What was it like as a child? How did you mentally represent the world?

    Kevin Shea

    Well, this is easy for me to answer because I don’t believe in transubstantiation. Human beings live unconsciously according to assumption and this is why traumatic mental or physical events perplex and enthrall us — it’s the closest we get to ridding our egos of their geometric uber-hankerings, depending on one’s predilection for abstraction of the idiomatic landscape, of course.

    Due to my altruistic forgoing of the soul, innate framings materialistically derived establish temperamental perceptual limitations – i.e., our offspring cultivates a conflicted civilization, cluttered with fervent nationalists and political bed-wetters.

    An efficient though flawed mantra/appropriation of the masses in social space, under the guise of a self-justified innate interpretational intervention, freezes conceptual capacity. Between the sheets of an indignant conjecture and a perfect equation lay the bumpkin of booby-trapped physiology. This is a fleshly crime soufflé that needs to be stopped.

    As the callow bumpkin lays inherently derided within the cloaked corporeal assumptions of rogue/poisoned consciousness, she awakens frozen within a vestigial solipsistic puzzle only to find the floor beneath her feet again, and again whether she likes it or not. The primordial practice of curiosity is readily eclipsed time and time again by ensuing messianic deviations left unchecked. To foreground a dualist extension of pantheistic negation, one need look no further than the turgid toiletries of petrochemical inclusion. Laundering releases millions of synthetic fragments into the oceans, only to be fed upon by unsuspecting marine life. ’Twas expectation that killed the beast. Did the amoeba transgress the perceptual potpourri due to some haphazard evolutionary whim?

    The hidden truth is that it is impossible to become a defrauder of consciousness outside of physiological and societal tendencies and yet perhaps a world of empathy initiates from the universal extermination of all hankering, emotion and self.

    This is why I wish for sound to be uniformly decontextualized from it’s assigned constitutional program. I am interested in trying to hear sounds as they are without relation to culture and experience. It is important to practice the art of listening just as one would practice the art of painting, dance or poetry.

    I am interested in the prescient dialogue between pure sound without any anthropomorphic presumption and the corrupt sound assigned to a certain construct via consciousness. Through the investigation of elusive sonic relationships, I seek the uncoupling of consciousness from human physiology in order to break down contrived aesthetic convictions one by one.


    Can you draw a map of the North of the Internet for us?

    I can equate that to a dream-turned-soliloquy recently experienced. Can the donkey eat milk off the back of a broken eagle? The donkey doesn’t question the hawk’s zero-sum game when it comes to feeding it’s brood. As with the hawk whose flight patterns disqualify machine-learning’s supernatural drone-loft, vampire-legend hegemony unconsciously defragments standardized consciousness efficiently toward fantastical astronautics, where each irrational human feeling offers its own disparate ineffectual narrative hindered by fast food and vampiral gentrification.

    Early vampirism, like early Marxism, creates a mockery of human ambition — capitalism is a serpent that eats its own tail, automatically consumed and transformed into socialism’s liminal stage. This is not a culturally biased assumption. Vampires deny the capacity of other sentient beings by negating peripheral truths based on the function of one particular organism at a time without correlation. The vampire elucidates that it is itself thinking about itself thinking…but this is no match for the zen of placid donkeyism (sans anatomically-based evasion of political consequences). Perhaps this can be further explained by looking into the ritual murder within certain early sects of Buddhist Tantricism.


    I love to question the concept of infinity. I think it doesn’t really exist, and that there’s always an end to every single thing or action. What do you think about infinity?

    Does it depend on the formulation of a species? Is it based on genetic encoding and neural synaptic charges? Is the information spanning a Möbius strip cumulative-learning or a perpetual erasure/metamorphosis of source material? I don’t see the difference between metaphysics and scientific probability, yet there are undoubtedly universal truths of pragmatic expectancy. If we could explain our emotions and desires as neural function, would the societal repercussions be catastrophic?

    The behaviorist can be dismissed due to her stubborn refusal to accept neurological research into her analysis…she must address issues raised by the reductionist or her validity completely fails. The reductionist aims to describe all aspects of mentality on a purely physical, neurological basis. Other than being unfashionable hypothetical scholarship, elementary descriptions of mentality as a series of causal relationships that influence physical behavior exclude a broader definition akin to a folding of inbred dimensional pedigree.

    There is no end but only physiological alteration through evolutionary chance choreography and the magic of context. There is only a beginning, as it relates to practical negotiation of propositional capacity. At the risk of sounding posh, humankind’s dawn ’twas as inert spasms… portending a celibate quashing of oxymoronic filibustering in perpetuity.

    To create a safe-space for every musician is to demolish sonic diversity.


    I once met someone who was studying shyness and its symptoms – he was especially focused on the science of blushing. I think that’s such a specific and remarkable idea to spend time studying this. I actually found it very inspiring. Is there anything so special to you that you’d like to study it in a scientific way?

    Biology is not my forte. That being said, hypothalamus chemical response sites are questionable functions at best during a psychosomatic epoch. The pursuit for the perfect analysis of the mind/body relationship is largely limited to indolent metaphysical terms stemming from the bias of psychological jargon. This presents a challenge to psychology and to mass-consciousness: how to escape the estranged stigmata of folk-psychology in order to neutralize the pharmaceutical industry. The cross-disciplinary solution has become to investigate mentality in terms of anatomical authorship…a unity of psychology, philosophy, neurology and physiology, et cetera.

    The romance of this harmonic fire is in carefully questioning that which has been taken for granted from all possible angles. This integration can be partially exemplified through the process of musical exploration. Music is a part of daily experience, yet it’s obvious that the commitment to any one musical aesthetic skirts conspicuous fraudulence — especially as a support musician glorifying the musical whims of one deranged human.

    I prefer a motion of sound proceeding into unexpected conceptual peripheries. To create a safe-space for every musician is to demolish sonic diversity. The methodology of perfecting sonic architecture is dangerous. I like to be surprised. An interpretive process informed solely by an embrace of historically-popular aesthetic achievements only serves to reinforce said paradigm. I am only interested reinforcing the sonic delusions of one master composer if the price is right or if their delusions are so transgressive as to promote the spontaneous combustion of dogmatically imposed, morally corrupt infrastructures.


    I understand you’ve read The Art of Memory by Frances Yates. Are you influenced by any of the Classical or Renaissance philosophers she talks about? What do you think about the idea of memory, as a musician?

    As a musician inclined to improvise, the path to propriety and kindness may be found within The Art of Memory. What I mean is that each aspect of the concert stage obstacle course can be interpreted as if being various foyers or atria in a vast castle, each space can be identified as serving to signal a series a further conceptual relationships and philosophical patterns otherwise partitioned to the dark nemesis of forgotten abidance.

    The outpouring of sonic disgust experienced at the rock concert can be easily substituted as a puzzle of consciousness, anything to avoid the sonic silver platter served only to those privileged enough to have an opinion — opinions likely made possible by Renaissance painters who explored three-dimensional perspective instead of adhering to the Church’s legislate to two-dimensional representations.

    This reevaluation of accepted scale led the way to Galileo and the reevaluation of blind consent to dogma where consciousness shifted into material description. It was an obvious path to the current voyage of mind as matter and thus illumination that predictable musical phrasing is no better methodologically speaking than any other hegemonic thought compliance.


    When I was an art student, one of my teachers taught us that art installations and pieces should be viewed as a crime scene to be fully understood. Would you agree? Is there any piece of art you’d like to do a Jon Benet- or OJ Simpson-style investigation of?

    It’s of interest to note that whereas the art work in the museum facilitates a condoning of the demystified other, in daily experience, without postulating any process of exhumed aesthetics, the cumulative spaces of banal happenings are far more selfless and noble. Art is certainly whatever you believe it is, but that doesn’t make the process of deliberation or conclusion in any way diplomatic or empathetic.

    Rather, the goal should be to extinguish the human ego and call it what it is: a vestigial conglomerate of cerebral material due to our physiological make-up. News flash: consciousness is a vestigial crutch…clutch onto it as hard as you want like a little baby holding its blanket, but the only reasonable solution is pragmatic empathy, compassion, and diplomacy that doesn’t award any illusory sense of individuation at the expense of the human community. To extinguish ego as the blowing out of a lamp…this goal is too avant-garde for any tawdry-brand personality.

    Afterwards, I soaked in large quantities of light for forty-five minutes in order to help stabilize my sleeping schedule.


    Tell us about what you did yesterday.

    Due to an odd dream upon waking yesterday morning, I was struck by an unusual sense of dread and loneliness. My immediate response was to drink four eight-ounce glasses of water mixed with two tablespoons of raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar to offset any potential psychosomatic residue. In addition, I attempted to stabilize my blood sugar level by ingestion one form or another of a complete amino acid profile.

    Afterwards, I soaked in large quantities of light for forty-five minutes in order to help stabilize my sleeping schedule. During this period, I looked up information about the Bohlen-Pierce 13-note micro-tonal scale. I was intrigued by Löis Lancaster’s use of the Bohlen-Pierce scale on his record Malva. After this investigation, I ate breakfast and then started practicing. I always begin my practicing sessions standing while using a practice pad. I stand to inform/reinforce my posture as it relates to motion and technique…attempting to establish a central core from which to stabilize my spine, neck and shoulders.

    I recently found out about Anatomy Of Drumming by John Lamb. His analysis of technique and posture through anatomical drawings and research is intriguing. I use a practice pad to gain experience playing on varied surfaces and to preserve my hearing. I use a metronome at varying tempos and heavier sticks. I ran through a sequence of finger, wrist, and grip exercises at various tempos. I like to have a routine that is consistent and brings me back to the basics each time I start practicing…allowing time afterwards for a little exploration. From there I’ll work on some rudimentary playing, and then I’ll sit down at my practice pad kit and work on music I’m currently performing as well as various exercises gathered from online videos or books.



    How would you illustrate the sound of the drums using only letters, words and signs? Can you write a drum pattern on a piece of paper for us?

    It’s a question of interpretation… it’s difficult enough to present sounds without them being misinterpreted. If a struggle to consummate congenial corporeal congruence confines capitalistic curators, catcalling cowards convene computer-converted. As I am fond of saying, my humor comes from a place of seeming emptiness, from a place of disbelief aside from a commitment to pragmatic morality and the hope to not take for granted how my choices effect others. I am not coming from a place of traditional spirituality to gain my foundation or a place where I hold my opinions as sacred over and above all else.

    To me, music is a process, and opinions are plastic. Our foundation is a process through which we gain a broader awareness and compassion. Music can mean and be whatever you want it to, and I think as humans we have a responsibility not to uphold any indoctrinated rules for how communication and meaning are to be realized, distributed, interpreted or expressed. For example, there are accepted cultural values assigned to specific time signatures, melodies, key centers, cadences, and lyrics. It is a real crime against humanity to negate the meaning that these values instill within others., lest we nurture an indifference to other people, a narcissistic belief system played out in nationalism, fascism, or conspicuous consumption.

    The flip side is that audiences should continue to decode the coercive techniques utilized by hierarchical masterminds to manipulate their conspicuous human tendencies.


    You’re a drummer, so if I told you that movement never lies, what would that mean to you?

    Music is a tactile experience. It’s wise not to automatically presume the superstitious sonic voodoo from an otherwise banal process of object manipulation whose oppressively appropriated function for cursory soothsaying negates any privileged form of leisure listening experience…especially when another circumstance of toiling object manipulation would sow a field to feed a village or help design a renewable source of energy. That musical performance fails to garnish any phytochemical potentiality eclipses it’s elusive ethereal sonic debriefing.

    Debriefing an audience prior to the stage performance caters to scholars of art history, but demeans an otherwise tarnished audience ego… rife with an indoctrinated certainty of questionable origin. Unlike every other instrument on the planet, percussion is a malleable detritus unlimited by form and process.

    Two rocks will suffice, or two clapping hands –utopian objects on a diplomatic campaign to quash the obtuse presumption of individuation. That we can be coerced beyond the indefatigable sectarianism of our species is highly suspect.

    Democracy actualized is a hiccup en route to the entropic vacuum. And yet the beauty of this anthropoid debacle lies in the birth of the unreliable narrator. You may believe I believe in the sounds you hear me play, but that doesn’t mean I stand behind my sounds, nor do I necessarily believe that you believe that I believe in the sounds I play.

    I can play what I don’t promote in a charismatic way in order to broadside my intuition and thus practice empathetic reckoning. The process of an artist should not be reduced to an incurious ecosystem within one’s chosen genre, but should perpetuate an anthropological questioning from outside the boundaries of her own context…

    lest one reinforce the social norms of precious/crystallized individuation and it’s entrapment of sugar-coated ideological tenets.


    What’s in your fridge right now? I’d like to hear what you have to say about food, your food. Please elaborate.

    In my fridge, you will find:

    apple cider vinegar
    blue-green algae
    cottage cheese
    chia seed
    nutritional yeast

    Alpha Lipoic Acid
    omega 3 oil
    collagen powder
    sprouted almonds

    flax seeds
    liquid chlorophyl
    sprouted grains
    pickled herring

    I don’t eat any refined or added sugars, including honey, maple syrup, or agave. I try to drink enough water. I am interested in community supported agriculture, in order to engage with local upstate farmers who use environmentally conscious practices.

    Thank you.


    Conversation: 5
    Curated by: Julien Fernandez
    Conducted by: Email
    Published: June 21, 2017
    Total questions: 10
    Word count: 2615
    Reading time: Ten minutes
    Hyperlinks: 5


    Fridge data: 38


    About the subject

    Kevin Shea was the drummer of Storm & Stress and is active in improvisational and experimental music.

    About the curator

    Julien Fernandez was born in Mayenne, France in 1976. He currently lives and works in Pescara, Italy with his wife, two kids and a dog, Lenny. He is captivated by structural relations between objects, animal behavior, contagion and magic, and is currently working on a mechanism that would classify mental images in the physical world. He also designs and envisions the day-to-day architecture of North of the Internet.

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