For over ten years Shannon Fields has traced a wide but deliberate path across multiple channels of artistic and cultural production, at the margins between popular culture and various more academic and 'art music' traditions. Based in Brooklyn and active as a sound artist, composer, producer, performer and curator, Shannon typically explores the clashing of disparate values inherent within different musical genres and traditions, using these 'aesthetic dissonances' as compositional elements in works that explore an additional range of themes; among these is the ecstatic gesture (particularly Pentecostal traditions of speaking/singing in tongues), the evolution and construction of "folk" forms in contemporary culture, sentimentality, and human language.
From the artist: “My interests gravitate towards the internal inconsistencies in any given style's notions of authenticity, technical achievement, and audience expectation. I am interested not in the "grammatical" conventions of individual forms and genres, but rather in the points of contention between separate forms, where to competing models of artistic value or techincal achievement collide and create a dissonance of ideas, expressions and emotions.”a
Shannon holds a BA from Knox College with a double major in English and Philosophy, and studied philosophy of language and structural linguistics at St Anne's College, Oxford University.
Shannon has achieved widespread recognition for his work as co-founder of the volatile and polarizing Brooklyn music collective, Stars Like Fleas, a group of accomplished musicians from radically different traditions who re-write/arrange each performance based on the acoustic and "social" contours of the space in which it is to be performed. Under his guidance, the Fleas have recorded music (3 full-length LP's and a number of compilations) praised by critics from the New York Times, Wire Magazine, the Village Voice, and Pitchfork (et al). Its performances have ranged from unamplified woodland shows or performances at small town house parties, to venerated rock venues (eg NYC' Bowery Ballroom, Brussels' Botanique, Montreal's La Sala Rossa), improvisational music venues (The Stone), to major cultural institutions such as NY's MoMA, PS1 Contemprary Art Museum, Performa, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris -- often such disparate performance spaces will constitute stops on the same tour. In addition to its own repertoire, and highly improvisational works, the group has also performed one-off shows of Cardew's "Treatise", re-readings of the Sacred Harp songbook with traditional shape note singers, and an on ongoing series of work devoted to collaboration with ad hoc improvisational choirs composed of untrained singers directed by members of the Fleas. In 2009 the Fleas also performed Shannon's score for a fashion show for the Obedient Sons and Daughters clothing line during NY Fashion Week, hailed in the NY Times as a "breakout" event.