Chanel Beads


There’s a transcendent layer to every song made by Chanel Beads, the project of Shane Lavers. Half-fabricated-half-truth, each one builds to an inflamed idea of a universal experience. After playing house shows in different formations, Lavers started Chanel Beads as an outlet for his affecting songs that he writes, records, and produces using a roguish blend of synthetic and real instruments. Now based in New York, he is often joined on stage by close collaborator, songwriter-producer Maya McGrory (Colle) and experimental instrumentalist Zachary Paul, who weave in their improvised voices and instruments, making his hard-to-place songs even more unpredictable and all-encompassing.
With his emotionally stark, yet intricately produced 2022 singles “Ef” and “True Altruism,” Chanel Beads established a presence in New York’s DIY scene and corners of the experimental music internet. Now he makes his debut on Jagjaguwar with the single “Police Scanner,” whose unconventional structure eases the listener into an enveloping mix of imperfect guitar strums, metallic drums, and layered strings, which build into a poignant climax. Lavers’ voice is sung up in his head and doubled by Collette, evoking both childlike navieté and post-modern anxiety. Interjected noises like the sound of a person yelping and a text-to-speech sample create texture, gleaming amid the fried production.
Police Scanner’s lyrics relate to feelings of desperation, and an inability to act on those feelings. Lavers says that “it’s an anger at the lack of virtue in the world,” while also recognizing that same absence within yourself. It deals with that inner guilt and shame. Ultimately though, the sentiment of the song is more sad or empathetic, rather than directly angry or full of blame.
Lavers started Chanel Beads as a way to organize his experimentations in songwriting. Initially, he used DJ software to mix together voice memos, wanting to portray sound how you “experience it in the moment,” he explains—whether it’s a pop hit mixed in with the sound of people talking at a bar and the hum of the air conditioner, or the thin sound of a clip played out of a phone speaker. He eventually began singing atop his eclectic soundscapes, which layer crunchy sonics, hypnotic rhythms, and charged lyrics, and released his Zut Alors EP in 2018.
While inspired by the immediacy of pop music, Lavers is drawn to poor MP3 rips and alternate versions, like demos or live takes, believing that their unfinished quality lends itself to a certain open-endedness that leaves space for personal attachment. Both ethos are present in Chanel Beads, as he elevates manufactured sounds into elegant forms and intentionally prints down his songs to embed them with digital artifacts. With these sonic tricks, he questions the need to strictly delineate music into the real and fake, the funny and serious, and the detached and sentimental.
Chanel Beads’ debut album is forthcoming on Jagjaguwar.