Baby Killer Estelle

Leo Svirsky: piano & vocals

Sam Shahin: drums


       Baby Killer Estelle is a character in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play Huis Clos (No Exit).   In the

play, the three characters are trapped in hell, but when offered the possibility of leaving, they

find themselves chained to each other.  In the end, their eternal torture, and the chains keeping

them there are solely a product of their social relationship, and their inability to collectively find

a way out.   While Sartre meant this as an allegory to the broader condition of man, we took

this more as an allegory particular to capitalism.   The prison of the economy exists foremost in

our minds, and in our social reactions.  As Guy Debord wrote in Society and the Spectacle,

“The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is

mediated by images.” While we are under no illusions as to the amount of violence needed to

perpetuate the capitalist system, it’s cornerstone is not brute force, but our collective inertia. 

    We formed Baby Killer Estelle in 2004, originally as two students in the Levine School of

Music.   Sharing an interest in political punk rock, and DC (post)hardcore, as well as the more

experimental ends of jazz led us to play together.  Originally we focused on radical

interpretations of compositions from John Zorn’s Masada books, attempting to build our own

vision of a non-zionist radical Jewish culture.  We then began to work on our own compositions

as well as material taken from historical sources (chain-gang songs, Skip James).   These

pieces still involved a good deal of improvisation and stayed fairly clear of conventional song

formats.    This was captured on our first release Lady Macbeth’s Hands.   Following this we

began to craft situationist pop songs, using a polystylistic approach heavily influenced by

groups like Mr. Bungle and Naked City, as well as composers like Alfred Schnittke, and Sergey

Kuryokhin.   These songs appear on our second release Awaken Necropolis, recorded at DC’s

historic Inner Ear studio.  We played alongside many amazing people and bands, ranging from

black metal to post-bop, even a Balkan wedding band.   Currently we are living in two very

different cities (New Orleans, The Hague) in two different continents, working on some fairly

diverse musical projects; but our musical partnership and need to create music with a

revolutionary consciousness keeps us together.   We are currently working on a new album

entitled All That’s Solid Melts Into Air.

The Jazz body is dead, The jazz spirit lives on...

"Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance.  Something

that is constituted here resonates with the shock wave emitted by something constituted over

there.   A body that resonates does so according to its own mode.   An insurrection is not like

a plague or a forest fire - a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial

spark.   It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time

and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more

density.  To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable"

                          -The Invisible Comittee