Their given name is Sean Bowie, they were born in Miami, Florida and brought up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and they have an influential presence in the experimental electronic music world. That’s most of what we definitively know about Yves Tumor, the enigmatic music creator who keeps much of their identity under wraps. The artist prefers to keep most aspects of their life a mystery, from their sexuality and gender to more basic information like where they are currently based.
From age 17 onwards, Tumor has created daring and creative musical sounds, influenced by musicians such as Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. Often described as a “noise artist,” much of Tumor’s music uses dissonant notes, field recordings, and other strange sounds that are unsettling and bizarre. The artist has often described the sounds in his work as “nasty” and “disgusting” in interviews.
Tumor met rapper Mykki Blanco in Los Angeles around 2012, and the pair went on to tour together for two and a half years throughout Europe and Asia. Then, Tumor self-released their first album in 2015 called When Man Fails You. The next year, they signed with PAN Records and released Serpent Music, their label debut. And the artist didn’t slow down there—2017 marks the release of the compilation album entitled Experiencing the Deposit of Faith, and in September of 2018 Tumor released their Warp debut Safe in the Hands of Love.
Much of Tumor’s music is a mix of sultry and calming and then jarring and noisy. Licking an Orchard starts out soothing and soft, but the middle of the song features screech-like noises. Always keeping the listener on their toes, Tumor makes each song an entirely new experience. Currently, Yves Tumor is on tour and will be performing in locations across the United States and Europe. The artist’s London Stop is at the All Points East festival on 26 May 2019. Find tickets and tour information here.
On musical influences:
“Sonically, Throbbing Gristle (were very inspirational). There’s something about their music, like the hypnotic trance vibes, that really influenced me. When I moved to Los Angeles after college, a good friend of mine would always play Chris & Cosey records when we were hanging out. I slowly became obsessed with them and started reading about Genesis P-Orridge and that whole movement.” – Dazed, 2016
“Being online so much, I’ve noticed that people who post a lot of stuff about themselves grow a fanbase out of the constant show that they are putting online, and then their fanbase starts to feel like they know this person personally even though they’ve never met them. It’s happened to my friends who have put themselves out there intensely. Sometimes the fans cross the line and take advantage of this connection, and it becomes super unsettling, and it’s hard to reverse. So I just started to draw back the things I say about myself online, so they don’t have a chance to cross that line.” – Pitchfork, 2017
“I think my sense of style and my performance might be unrelated maybe… I wanna look good for the audience, but I’m mostly doing it for me, so I feel comfortable up there. Feeling good comes first with me.” – Crack Magazine, 2018
Words by Sara Frazier | Feature image via @yvestumor