It is a very rare occasion where I listen to a release of a brand new artist and my jaw hits the floor. So rare in fact I think it's only happened to me twice in the last decade.(3 now) So when I heard Panic I/O's 'System Overload' on Instagram my ears perked up, my jaw unclenched, and when I read that this was only their second ever track.. I had to scoop my jaw back up, not realising it had been hanging for the entire duration of 'The Oontz' Needles to say I had to have a dive in to their music wanting more and I was thoroughly impressed that this new artist had turned their mental illness struggles (Something I also strongly suffer with) in to some great industrial musical interpretation. There's one thing all of us should be doing, and that's supporting new artists.! Therefore the irony was not lost on me that almost all the bands at Resistanz I interviewed said we need more women and new artists in the scene; I got to know Sian and her music after sending me a friend request having seen me walking around Tanz. So as all of us with a platform should do, is show credit where credit is due. And so I present a short Spotlight article, to you, the incredible Industrial scene of a 'New kid' on the block, and damn does their music SLAP! Here you will find her first interview and my reviews on her first two tracks.
Panic I/O (Input/Output) released their first single on March 28th and their second single on the 14th of April so this is as fresh an artist as you can possibly get! Sian really has made some brilliant music here.
Panic I/O is the incredible interpretation of mental Illness given industrial form, a concept many may have touched on, but few born of, and I for one am very much excited for the dance heavy future of Panic I/O!
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Q. Having just released your very first two tracks tell us a bit about yourself and who you are.
A. I'm terrible at introductions, but here goes. I'm Sian, a 28 year old software engineering student and musician from the UK. I've been a huge fan of all things Industrial, EBM, and Dark Electro since I was a teenager, and now I've finally hopped into the scene as an artist as well as a fan.
Q. Panic I/O is a great name as it ties in with the reason you made these tracks right? So tell us about those tie-ins, the meaning behind it, and is the I/O said as 'Switch'?
A. Thank you. Yes, it ties in with the tracks in the sense that I decided to start making music as a way to channel my anxiety and panic disorder into something positive and productive. In the past my coping mechanisms have not always been the most healthy, and I knew I needed to change that.
'Troubled Soul', particularly, was intended to convey a feeling of panic, and what it feels like for me personally when I feel a panic attack coming on. Similarly, I wrote 'System Overload' with the intention of conveying that overwhelming sense of panic I feel when I'm right in the thick of it - that sort of bombarding, intense feeling of anxiety that's all consuming and impossible to ignore.
As for the 'I/O', it's an abbreviation of 'input/output', i.e. the communication in information processing systems - the input is the signal or data received by the system, and the output is the signal or data sent from it. In the case of myself and this name, the input is the anxiety, panic attacks, or various other negative emotions, and the output is the music.
Q. What moment did you decide this is something you were going to do and how did Panic I/O come to manifest?
A. I decided a few years back that it was something I wanted to do. I had just moved to Sheffield from much further North to come to university here, but the country was still mostly locked down due to the pandemic at that point so I didn't really have any opportunity to go out and meet people. I had the company of my housemate and my pet rat, but I still found myself getting quite lonely - which was
worsening the aforementioned anxiety. I'd always leaned quite heavily on music as a kind of emotional crutch - although always as a listener, rather than as an artist - and making music had always been something that interested me but I had never really pursued it. But since we were in lockdown I had a lot of time on my hands, so one night I decided to treat myself and order a midi keyboard from Amazon to play around with and see if a new hobby would help me feel any better, and as it turns out, it did.
Q. What software did you use and what have been the most difficult parts about making your first two tracks that you've managed to overcome?
A. I used Ableton for both tracks - mostly because when I initially bought my midi keyboard years ago it came with a free trial of the software and there were so many tutorials available for it online. Over time I became comfortable and familiar with it and never ended up switching DAWs.
For me one of the most difficult parts is definitely getting the sound or riff I have in my head to translate into actual audio within Ableton. I have absolutely no musical background, so it's often a lot of trial and error trying to create the right sounds and find the right instruments and effects to fit with and convey the
ideas I have in my head.
Learning to mix and master was another major learning curve for me. Thankfully some of my friends who are also artists within similar genres reached out to me after the release of 'Troubled Soul' with some constructive feedback and advice on how to improve upon my mixing and mastering. I took that advice and tried to implement it on 'System Overload' and I think (and hope) it shows.
Q. Whilst making your music were there any particular artists you were drawing inspiration from or has this been all just inspired from 'within'?
A. A lot of it definitely comes from within. With the nature of what I'm trying to convey within the songs and the reasons behind them, I think it has to in order to be true and authentic. Having said that, I do take some inspiration and influence here and there from other artists. I spend most of my free time listening to music, and so naturally some influence from what I'm listening to makes its way into my own music on occasion. Artists like ESA and Front Line Assembly have definitely been some of the bigger influences I've found myself drawing inspiration from from time to time.
Q. Visra (Shinji) has already remixed 'Corrupted Soul'. Are there any plans to work with other artists as of yet, and who would you like the opportunity to collaborate with if possible?
A. Shinji did such an amazing job on that remix - honestly love it and I'm super excited for us to release it. (Available on Bandcamp and streaming platforms from May 5th, or right now if you're reading this after May 5th).
I'd definitely love to work with other artists in the future, be that on remixes or on collaborative tracks.
Obviously I'm still a newbie within the space, but it's something I'd really like to do further down the line.
Something I also think could be super interesting to do further down the line is to work on a track with vocals - I can't sing to save my life, but I do write lyrics as an outlet, and I'd love to collaborate with a vocalist on a future track.
The dream would probably be someone like Sven Friedrich or Jamie Blacker of ESA. Both very different artists, but some of my personal favourites who I think it'd be amazing to have the opportunity to work with in the future.
Q. What's next for you, anything else in the works?
A. I have concepts and ideas for a few more tracks planned out already. They're slightly on the back- burner at the moment, though, as I'm in the process of completing my final university project. Production has become my preferred method of procrastination, though, so I've no doubt I'll end up starting work on some of those tracks sooner rather than later whilst I'm putting off my university work.
Q. Would you be up for playing any shows when you're ready with enough tracks, or would you be up for doing a DJ set if any promoters were looking for new talent? (Hint Hint promoters!)
A. I'd definitely be up for that in the future once I've got enough tracks to do so. It sounds absolutely terrifying right now - especially as someone who hasn't been in front of a crowd since my primary school nativity play - but I'd certainly love to do live shows further down the line.
Learning to DJ is something I've also been looking into - it seems like something I'd really enjoy doing, so perhaps in the future that could be on the cards, too.
Q. Anything you'd like to say to the people that have welcomed and appreciated your music?
A. Just thank you. It's absolutely terrifying releasing music for the first time, but people have been so supportive and really seem to be enjoying it and I can't express enough how much that means to me. So again, thank you so very much - I appreciate it more than I could say.
I will start with 'System Overload' first as that's the first one I heard. First off let me make this clear, this sounds best loud. On a volume scale of ten it probably sounds best on a 7. Anything beyond that and distortion becomes an issue, anything less than that and you can't appreciate the nuances of what this represents; And of course, headphones add the extra spice.
The opening sounds a little reminiscent of some Halo choral tracks which added a touch of nostalgia I wasn't expecting followed by an interesting sample.. There's is something truly creepy about the female sample that is distorted so that it is incredibly familiar but frustratingly I can't place it and that just adds to the overall essence of what Sian is trying to put into the track.. A sheer sense of Panic. Especially when people are talking to you but you can't process what they are saying, it's all just muffled.
For that reason the track also lends itself so well to the chaos, the unrefined sounds and the very real struggle to make a track sound great to someone new to the art, and this translates so well to that sense of panic.
Music mastery is something that we always come to expect from Industrial with bands having been doing it for decades but to hear something so new, fresh, and unpolished yet still so very good is so refreshing and I genuinely love it.
None of that is to say this is anything less than great because from the very concept of one person's mind and their struggles within, to a heavy piece of music we can all very strongly relate to - and most importantly - dance to. What is our scene if not connection to one another through music, empathy, and dance?
At 2.20 their is a well chosen pulsation sound that skull drills you in to a false safety before that kick ass beat drops back down hard and a perfectly chosen snare makes itself heard. The chaos of the overlapping electronics really does create that true to life Panic picture of being overwhelmed.
The final female sample counting down to end the track is MMM.. *Chef Kiss*
Where 'System Overload' was conveying the depths of a full blown, in the thick of it panic attack, 'Troubled Soul' as mentioned in the interview is the feeling of an oncoming panic attack, of that slow creeping anxiety that is trying to take hold. Once again Sian has painted this audible picture perfectly.
Throughout the deep dark electronics we have a resonant drip sound that feels like moments of clarity in your mind when you are trying to use logic and grounding to keep yourself stable and away from the panic, these notes sound a little angelic in their beginning touches of the soundscape.
This is a simple but very effective track which, for a first release, you can't really ask anymore of, this is done incredibly well with it's tense build up and drop of the sample..
'She's a troubled soul with many demons'
Visra releases a remix of this track on the 5th of May and it is sounding super heavy and CRUNCHY!! Make sure you pre-save it below because I am really looking forward to it!
Finally thank you for reading and please make sure you do your part to point out and encourage new talent wherever you find it. Be it music, arts, at work, or your friend's new hobby, be supportive of everyone around you and we all benefit from the happiness created, and the amazing artistry that can come from it!
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