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Xiu Xiu began in 2002 in San Jose, California by original members Lauren Andrews, Yvonne Chen, Cory McCulloch and Jamie Stewart. Current members are Shayna Dunkelman, Angela Seo, Ches Smith and Jamie Stewart. They are based in Los Angeles and New York.

Over the life of the band, the music has taken influence from noise, modern classical, the dance floor, post punk, experimental, minimalism, Asian percussion musics and American folk music. Frequently noted as well are the influences of the films of Todd Solondz, Shohei Imamura, David Lynch and Seijun Suzuki and the books of Elfriede Jelinek, V.S, Naipaul, Yukio Mishima and Ingeborg Bachmann.

The subject matter of their songs has been taken from the personal experiences of the band members, their families and from politics. They explore the topics of depression, molestation, war, bad or amusing sex, crime, suicide, loneliness, body image and dependence on cats.

Critically, they are considered extremely divisive. The same albums often receiving both 5 star and 1 star reviews. They inserted a poster into an LP sleeve of photographs of Xiu Xiu related cuts, brands and tattoos listeners of the band have sent them. As well, they collected and then inhaled the smoke from the burning hair that fans donated at shows.

To date, they have released well over 50 titles including albums, 7inches, books, film works and composed for dance pieces. They have collaborated with a number of artistic and musical luminaries such as Carla Bozulich, Michael Gira, Dahn Vo, Monika Gryzmala, Grouper, Larsen, These Arches, Deerhoof, John Congleton, Dirty Beaches, Oxbow and Shearwater.