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The Sheep Fiends record music in an improvisational, impromptu and extemporaneous style. Lyrics are typically composed as the music is played, musicians find their way by ear and it is not uncommon for an instrument to change hands mid-song.

The Sheep Fiends play no particular genre and every Sheep Fiends jam is a performance. We started making music over 25 years ago in 1992 and over 100 musicians have floated in and out of the group, bringing with them a virtual orchestra of instruments. The nucleus of The Sheep Fiends formed around a number of DJ's who met at WRDP: Radio Depaul, DePaul University's college radio station in Chicago.

You can browse The Sheep Fiends Recordings section to check out our material. All songs are rated with 1-5 stars (5 stars is best) to guide you towards material we think you will most enjoy. If you are tired of music made by market analysis, if you have been listening to the same radio format for too long, then check us out. Songs by The Sheep Fiends are available under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license, so feel free to share our music with others in a non-commercial manner. Please contact us to discuss if you would like to discuss any commerical use.

Much of the material recorded before 2009 was recorded with lo-fi equipment, often nothing more than a cassette tape deck connected to the soundboard. Some of this earlier material can be a listening challenge. Since 2009 the group has recorded using multi-track recording equipment allowing for a more professional sound. While the material is edited, efforts are taken to retain the improv nature of the recording process. In the rare case when tracks are overdubbed, for example, these are typically done in an improvisational 1-take manner.

All Sheep Fiends material released under the Creative Commons License and is managed by The Sheep Fiends Foundation, an organization dedicated to free media licensing.

Some quotes of inspiration...

Making music together is the best way for two people to become friends. There is none easier.

  • The Music Master, "The Glass Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse, in the chapter "The Call"li>

For art, the intervention of Capital always signals a further degree of mediation. To say that art is commodified is to say that a mediation, or standing-in-between, has occurred, & that this betweenness amounts to a split, & that this split amounts to "alienation." Improv music played by friends at home is less "alienated" than music played "live" at the Met, or music played through media (whether PBS or MTV or Walkman). In fact, an argument could be made that music distributed free or at cost on cassette via mail is LESS alienated than live music played at some huge We Are The World spectacle or Las Vegas niteclub, even though the latter is live music played to a live audience (or at least so it appears), while the former is recorded music consumed by distant & even anonymous listeners.

The Sheep Fiends Website

The Sheep Fiends has organized jams via email since 1994 and had a web presence since 1995. An early version of The Sheep Fiends website from June, 1996 can be viewed here. In 1996 the website adopted a black-background look-and-feel and started using CGI (Common Gateway Interface) technology written in Perl. An archived version of that site can be viewed on The Internet Archive Wayback Machine. CSS was introduced in 2003. The CGI scripts that make this website work are available under the GPL license. Click on the link to download the sheepfiends-engine 1.10 tarball.