By Roisin Breen

Techno, ambient and experimental pop producer Alexi Shell drops her long awaited debut album, Sirens, following the success of the first single from the album, The Fall, which she dropped earlier this year. A key figure in the Parisian queer music scene, she makes a point of using her art to give a voice to marginalized communities. Having played at some of Paris’ most infamous queer parties, including Barbieturix, La Tragedy, and La Chosen Family, the promising artist is as familiar on the decks as she is with intimate live performances.

A graduate of les Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, she began her studies in Fashion Design and also held a stint as DA of the queer and feminist media group Manifesto XXI, before embarking on her career in music. Through her musical and scenic universe, Alexi Shell weaves a fairy tale of struggle and love that is both dark and dreamlike. Taking inspiration from her time spent in Athens, and novels such as The Deep by Rivers Solomon, she creates a world where mythical tales, feminist struggles and ambient music coexist. Her techno influences support her cry for revolt. Composed of eight tracks, Sirens navigates between soft, bewitching sounds and more metallic and fast techno beats. From English to ancient Greek, the lyrics come from a mixture of influences and are accompanied by a tale, co-written with Costanza Spina and illustrated by Pauline Pylône.

Out today, discover the album now on all platforms at

And our full interview with Alexi below. 


Alexi Shell, Sirens, release party: 7th April 2023 at La Boule Noire, 120 Blvd Marguerite de Rochechouart, 75018 Paris.

Has music always been your thing? 

Yeah, I started playing piano when I was 5, my dad also played guitar a lot so he taught me how to play guitar when I was a teenager, and I started singing by myself with my guitar haha. When I got to art school, I started designing clothes, then after my third year, I started to develop performance practice. That’s when I felt like composing my own pieces to go with it, so I started doing electronic music. It started as a very experimental project! When I graduated from the Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux I continued a live/performance duo with Isis Lherm, called ISI E ALEXI. We toured quite a bit, in France, Italy, in Greece, we were often on the go but it was really fun! At the end of 2019 I started my solo project which soon turned into an EP that I released in December 2020, I wish I was a mermaid.

In your Bio you state that you are « Actively engaged in the struggles of the queer community ». In what way, and how did you get involved in that world?

It’s very important for me to spread messages through art, but also to support the queer scene. For example, I give non-mixed DJing classes, with the idea of opening possibilities to a population that doesn’t always feel legitimate to have its place on stage. For me, it’s about bringing queer stories behind my music, but also about being myself and assuming this part of me on a daily basis. The more I see inequalities, the more I want to fight and put our struggles forward!

La Barbieturix, La Tragedy, La Chosen Family… Can you tell us about these parties? What do they represent for the gay community?

Barbieturix was a very important date for me. It was incredible for me to play in front of a 90% female and queer audience! There is a real difference. As a DJ, you can also feel unsafe, or even harassed, even when you are on stage. Queer parties allow you to avoid this, to feel good and yourself, but above all to offer safe spaces for the LGBT community.

The queer community and the dance/techno scene are historically linked – it seems that one cannot exist without the other. Why do you think that nightlife and dance music play such a crucial role in the queer community?

I think that basically these parties were also created to have our own spaces, to recognize each other, to understand each other and as I said before, to have safe spaces. Nowadays, everything has been taken over by a more general scene. Creating within a community is also very nourishing, you have to know that LGBT people have a lot of things to claim, they created the love revolutions (cf : Costanza Spina for Manifesto XXI), they think a lot about a beautiful future, it helps to create and to be avant-garde! The queer community invents a lot of things that are then recovered by the rest of the society, and that’s ok, but the problem is that it’s rarely put forward.

How has the confinement changed the Parisian night scene in your eyes, both as a creator of parties and as a participant? Did you frequent the Bois de Vincennes or other such parties 🙃 💃 )?

My project grew during the confinement. So I started with a lot of live streaming, the fact of having a lot of images allowed me to be spotted a little bit before the reopening of the clubs. Today I feel that there is much less spontaneity in the fact of going out in clubs. Almost everything is pre-sales, and the vents are very often sold out… Something has changed for sure. On the other hand, the positive point is that I have the feeling that the organizers and the venues pay much more attention to the well-being of their public, and that’s a big progress! I went once to the Bois de Vincennes, but I admit that at that time I was more in parties in apartments, there was the ZUT which was created under the periphery in which there was a great program. I have to admit that raves where you have to go through woods and/or other difficult places make me a bit stressed, I like to be independent at parties and to be able to leave when I want alone haha. After that, I found it was a great initiative. We lost the notion of raves a bit with the democratization of techno in France. But above all people had a huge need to party, it was very harsh to deprive us of that! Today I feel more and more a return to normality, it feels really good!

You are a DJ and a producer – how is the preparation of a live set different from a DJ set?

For me it’s two very different things, the live set is very intimate, it’s much more stressful, it’s more creative time too, more performance and scenography to set up! I really think of it as a journey, I want to take the audience with me, to transmit emotions. But singing, playing your own songs, is really giving a part of yourself and your intimacy to the public, it’s a rather difficult and intimidating exercise! But I love it at the same time, putting yourself in danger is very beneficial! The construction is much longer than for a DJ set, and there are also many more people to involve, factors to think about! It’s a big preparation.

For a DJ set I build it according to the type of party I’m going to, but mostly with the goal that people have fun and so do I! I love to transmit energy to the public, I dance a lot and I try to interact a lot with the people who are there, it’s invigorating, and for me I live it more as a moment of fun and communion with the public than as a stress and something intimate. Leaving home with only my headphones and my USB key, it’s lighter (materially and mentally), I really go for 2 hours of fun and that’s it! After that, it’s still often one or two good days of work per set, I like to build them before, to create a coherent set musically and also in terms of energy.

Manifesto XXI – can you tell us a little more about it?

I started my work with Manifesto by chance! I found myself sharing a room with Coco, its founder in September 2019. At the time I suggested a few new ideas around the media one morning while having breakfast, and she proposed that I join the team haha! It’s a step in my life that was quite important, I learned one thousand jobs in one, a lot of benevolence and the importance of defending feminist and queer struggles but also the emerging scene! I discovered a lot of artists through it, I made a lot of beautiful encounters, and it fed me a lot of points to make my personal project evolve! I also started to mix with Manifesto XXI in the parties we organized. Today I’m not part of a collective anymore because I really needed to devote myself to the album for a year and a half, but I’d like to get back to it soon, when I’ll have time again haha.

Feminist mythical creatures dominate your mood/ lyrics and visuals… where does this come from? What do these creatures represent to you and what is the message you are conveying?

The mermaid is a character I started embodying in fine art. It is the mythical character that has inspired me the most since I was little. Water is my element and I feel 100% calm only when there is water around me. My bad ecological point is how often I take baths hahah.

Beyond the character’s world that fascinates me, I really took a feminist look at it pretty quickly. I wrote my memoir in 2017 at Beaux-Arts on it, which is called « La Sirène ». To talk about it quickly, the voice of the mermaid is what scares men, because it bewitches them and kills them after. This translates for me a fear of the patriarchal society of the voice of women, and therefore of revolutionary voices. I like to give back this voice, to convey it again, to use it to bewitch an audience, by embodying a very powerful and feared character, but that I see today as a character who defends struggles. I draw a lot of inspiration from different tales and legends, it’s fascinating, I wish I had the power to breathe underwater! I love the idea that the mermaids are a gang of women underwater who reinvent a world in their own way. I love the paradox of singing underwater, which is physically impossible for humans. I’m very inspired by the song of whales, which can be found in my music in general, it’s such a beautiful and fascinating animal! Did you know that every breeding season, they create tubes that are transmitted to all the oceans and become like « the whale tube of the year »? Haha!

I did not know that no, but that is insane! So tell us a bit about the album itself?

A little over a year and a half ago, I read the book The Deep by Rivers Solomon. This book was first inspired by a legend invented by the techno band Drexciya, which said that slave women who were pregnant on ships crossing the Atlantic were not valid and were therefore thrown into the water. The babies would be born in the ocean and become mermaids. Rivers Solomon has taken this legend and turned it into a beautiful, queer and anti-colonial book. He invites us to take this story and transform it again and again. It inspired me enormously and I wanted to rewrite this story and make it into an album. Of course I don’t talk about African slaves because it’s not my story and I don’t want to speak for the descendants of these women, but I adapted it to a completely queer and feminist tale and mixed it with all the mermaid tales I knew. At the same time that I was writing this tale, I started to compose the album. Each stage of the tale inspired me for the mood of each song. I wanted to keep my old influences with techno and ambient, but also explore experimental pop with the track Us, which is in the middle of the album.

I met S Diamah at the beginning of 2022, it’s surely one of the most important meetings I had for this album. We started writing an EP together, until I told her in April 2022 that I was stuck on my personal album. I had all my tracks, but I started to see the limit of producing alone, I had ideas but I could not put them into practice. I proposed to her to co-produce some tracks and she accepted. It was a very nice collaboration, we got along very well musically and amicably, she understood everything I imagined! I learned a lot from her practice but also from the fact of not working alone. Tratenwald also helped me write the lyrics for Us, she’s a great writer! As I was writing, I was building my own little team and it was very encouraging and energizing to have people helping me get this project done. Today I’m here, releasing my first album, being selected for the Inouïs du printemps de Bourges, and I know that I wouldn’t be here without all these people who accompanied me during this journey. I will never thank them enough! And I think that’s what I found most beautiful in the conception of this album 🙂

By the way, you will be able to find a small part of the musical team in concert at the Boule Noire in Paris on April 7th for my release party!

Can you tell us about your image as a visual artist and a musician?

My image is quite representative of what I really am. Even if I play a character, it is finally very close to what I am. So is my music. It’s an image and an artistic direction that came to me quite naturally. I pay a lot of attention to the aesthetics of my live performances, my project, my images… Because I think that having gone through the Beaux-Arts, it pushed me to be a 360° artist. I can’t be satisfied with only one medium, I need a whole universe to express myself! Haha!

What does fashion mean to you and do you work with any stylists or designers?

I always loved fashion, I wanted to be a stylist as well as a musician when I was a kid. I used to design clothes and give them to my grandmother to sew for me haha. At the Beaux-Arts I designed clothes, then when I arrived in Paris I also did some designs for choreographers, I was an assistant designer too. I was in charge of the fashion section in Manifesto XXI too, it gave me access to some fashion shows, it was really cool! But the music quickly took over the fashion! I didn’t have time to do everything anymore… But it’s still a very important medium in my artistic practice today.

For the video and the new live set, I worked with an incredible designer called Elena Budu. We made a moodboard together, and she immediately drew two beautiful outfits and made them following. I was incredibly lucky to have met her at that very moment! I pay a lot of attention to my stage outfits because the incarnation of a character also passes through there! I am very inspired by artists like Eartheater, Caroline Polachek… Who pay a lot of attention to their outfits, and have a crazy style while being 100% themselves! It’s also nice to see how much stylists understand artists.

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