State Shirt is the alias of Ethan Tufts, born and raised in a small Massachusetts town and currently working out of a small bedroom studio in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
He has become known for his atmospheric and imaginative songwriting, ghostly harmonies, and warm bedroom production that mashes up electronic and acoustic sounds over hand-crafted loops.
“Imagine flooding a cathedral from floor to rafters, and then being able to watch the ghosts of prayers swim about.”
The SongFight website inspired him to begin recording as State Shirt in 2001. Since then he has released one EP and five albums on his own Los Fucking Angeles label. With each release, the styles and techniques shift and transform.
“The entire production sounds like it was recorded beneath the lofty stone arches of a Gothic cathedral: polyphonic choral breakdowns, echoes & reverbs & strange twists of sound, and the airy, atmospheric wash of one thousand angels murmuring in the east transept. That’s State Shirt, homie.”
All of his songs are open source, providing raw materials for hundreds of remix artists to create new works based on his source tracks. His songs have appeared in numerous commercials, television shows, movies, and thousands of non-commercial and non-profit video projects. Every State Shirt song is available with a “Buy or Steal” option on his website—support the artist or download for free, your choice, no guilt either way.
Since 2010, State Shirt is also a noisemaker, marketer, product designer, and partner at Strymon Engineering.
Infrequently Asked Things
I love to make music, and I like to share it. I’ve found that making my music available for free has helped get it out to people who would have never found out about it otherwise. And I’ve been lucky enough that many of you come back to the site and share your money in return.
Yes, they’re here for free. If you end up liking it, please consider purchasing the music or buying a t-shirt. Your support will help me continue to make music. You get stuff and I can continue to make music. Works out well, right?
Absofuckinlutely. Most of my original songs are available as MP3, FLAC and WAV source files, ready for your remixes, mash-ups and crazy ideas. This includes every separate instrument, loop and vocal part recorded for each song. Grab them and go crazy. Post your remixes on ccMixter and be sure to send me a link, and I’ll also post them here.
Yes yes. And please show it to me when you’re done. All State Shirt songs are licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial Share Alike Creative Commons license. This means you can use my songs in a non-commercial use as long as you #1 – credit State Shirt and link back to stateshirt.com, and #2 – don’t use the music to make money. More about Creative Commons here.
Go to the music page and click on any song title.
Some of my faves: Subtle, Mogwai, Moby, Tycho, Sebadoh, Drive Like Jehu, Hayden, Com Truise, Coltrane, Crowded House, Beck, New Order, The Cure, The Folk Implosion, Duran Duran, Peter Murphy, Cut Copy, Digitalism, DJ Shadow, Tiger Lou, Elliott Smith, Pinback, Swans, Jason Falkner, Low, Doves, Blur, Neil Young, Nick Drake, Radiohead, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Phil Collins, John Fahey, Kool Keith, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varese, Godflesh, Neurosis, Fugazi.
Studio Setup – updated October 2015
- Ableton Live 9, Native Instruments Komplete, Reason 6
- Macbook Pro
- Universal Audio Apollo 16
- Oberheim Matrix-6, Yamaha DX21, Casio SK8, Yamaha PSS140, Roland Juno-6, Wurlitzer 200a, kid’s toys, a bunch of other knickknacks and crap
- A crapload of effects pedals, Strymon TimeLine, Strymon BigSky, Boss DF-2, Strymon El Capistan, Line 6 DL4, etc
- Fender Toronado, P.O.S. Peavey bass, Gibson acoustic
- Pieced together 1980s Slingerland/Ludwig/Pearl/Zildjian/Sabian drum kit and cymbals. And a nice new Pork Pie kit.
- Yamaha T116 upright piano
Live Setup – updated October 2015
- Fender Toronado
- Wurlitzer 200a
- In the past I used two Gibson Echoplex Digital Pros for live looping, but now I primarily use Circular Labs Mobius.
- Ableton Live
- Slightly broken Keith McMillen Softstep (replaced the slightly broken Behringer FCB1010)
- Strymon TimeLine, Strymon BigSky, Strymon Deco, Line 6 DL4, Roland TR-505, a bunch of wack effects
- Audix OM7 mic
- About 1000 cables, chewing gum, scotch tape and a prayer
- State Shirt isn’t really State Shirt’s name. It’s something other than State Shirt. But he does wear a lot of State Shirts.
- Bought a keyboard in 5th grade, brought it to school and got made fun of. Went back home and recorded 1000 goofy seven second long songs on portable cassette player.
- Forms a wack Phil Collins inspired light-rock band with friends from grade school. Plays the Easthampton, MA fall festival among other fine establishments.
- Buys a $200 drum set, breaks a lot of cymbals. As a drummer, bassist and guitarist, he plays in a death metal band, a light rock band, and an indie emocore band.
- Begs for and borrows music gear to record indie rock songs in his bedroom. Comes home from high school and records nearly every day. Records “The Ethan Album” and gives the cassette to friends. Goes to work at Caldor in the evenings.
- Gets a small scholarship and attends Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. Drops out of school and delivers pizza.
- Goes on tour with noise-punk band. They play clubs and dives all across the east coast. Band calls it quits, back to delivering pizza.
- Relocates to Los Angeles.
- Moves back to Massachusetts and works at a car wash. He doesn’t record anything for a year. Gets drunk.
- Relocates to Los Angeles.
- Gets sucked into a mind-numbing day job and isn’t heard from for a while.
- SongFight inspires State Shirt to start writing and recording songs again. Songs are received well and he keeps recording.
- Saves up some money, self-releases two albums and people actually buy them.
- Surprised by the shitload of radio airplay across the US, celebrates with a frosty Sam Adams.
- Disappears once again into obscurity.
- Wastes away at a droning, mind-numbing day job for years.
- Slowly finds spare moments to record This Is Old
- Wonders if leaving the pizza delivery industry was a bad idea
- Actually finds time to record new songs, works with online collaborators
- Releases Let’s get Bloody
- Music actually finds its way into TV and movies.
- Finds a slightly less mind numbing day job to pay the bills in between licensing deals (no pizza this time)
- He spends a lot of time making looping videos, drinking beer, and sitting in LA traffic.
- Finally gets back into the studio. Spends a lot of time thinking about his past, and the music that he listened to during his childhood. This inspires his latest album Lost Hills.
Is it true your songs have been on MTV’s Teen Mom?
Yes, this is true. No, I am not nor have I ever been a teen mom.
Is it true that “This is Old” was featured in My Super Psycho Sweet 16 Part 2?
Why yes, this is true as well. It’s actually a pretty good slasher film!
I want to license a song for a commercial project. How do I do that?
Please check out my Music Licensing page.