Of Bird and Cage—Who is Snowy Shaw?

2 September, 2021

Of Bird and Cage, now available on Steam, is the first ever metal album in the form of a video game. Tailored to its music, the project features artists from Within Temptation, (ex) Guns N’ Roses, Epica, and many others. 

Snowy Shaw is one of the great and talented musicians who contributed to this game. What is his story? Why did he join the Of Bird and Cage project?

Snowy Shaw, whose real name is Tommie Helgesson, was born in July 1968 in Sweden. Shaw himself states that the first 20 years of his life were spent in “a passion and devotion for heavy music horror & superhero comics and playing the drums.”

Shaw considers his official “professional and public birth” to be 1989, when he became the new drummer for the Danish heavy metal band King Diamond. From this start, he went on to form Memento Mori with two other musicians, and joined Mercyful Fate while also working on a solo project called The Shaman. In 1994, Snowy also joined the one-album supergroup Ill Will. In 1996, Snowy began to really demonstrate that he’s not just a drummer, by contributing as a multi-instrumental solo artist on a tribute album to KISS. 

For those who want to categorize Snowy Shaw, you’ll find that he’ll have none of that: “…personally I don’t really care about belonging to any specific subgenre or categorization. I thrive on diversity; and I’ve noticed that I tend to grow tired and lose interest before too long if I only get to have one outlet and express one kind of emotion and attitude.” Shaw told Damnation Magazine.

In 1997, Shaw quit all the bands he was in to give his full attention to his own band—Notre Dame. Here, he expanded far beyond the drums and instead played the guitar, bass, and keyboard as well as doing the vocals.

Three years later, Snowy was asked to join the melodic metal band Dream Evil by guitarist and producer Fredrik Nordström. Snowy declined, but agreed to do some drumming for their first album Dragonslayer. Two years after that, Snowy changed his mind and joined Dream Evil and toured with them internationally. He continued playing in Notre Dame at the same time.

In 2004, Notre Dame disbanded and a year later, Shaw left Dream Evil to work on solo projects. Some thought that the different bands that Shaw played in influenced his solo work and music, but he sees it the other way around: “I have a pretty wide range of musical influences to begin with, which has been useful and come in handy when I have chosen to involve myself with all those various bands or projects…I’m not saying that I haven’t learned a hell of a lot from my involvement with all these bands, but my music taste and skill-set hasn’t changed or been altered significantly I think. I’ve just done it on my own terms and to the best of my ability.”

His career began to expand further outside of music and Shaw not only was a part of the symphonic metal band Therion, but was also hired to design and create stage visuals. “I’ve done quite a lot of props for videos, photos etc for Dimmu Borgir among others but specifically for stage it’s basically just Therion, Dream Evil, XXX and Notre Dame. And some stuff for Kee Marcello’s K2 and my old bands,” he told Metal Assault.

In 2018, Shaw released White is the New Black, his debut full-length album. “So, when I eventually reached the point where I should pursue my solo career, I opted to allow myself complete artistic freedom and not limit myself to do only one of those music styles and directions. I took it upon myself to create that kind of situation I had longed for as an ART-IST, which also meant that I had to found my own record & production company, Wunderwurld, and be 100% independent” he told Damnation Magazine. The album received very good reviews worldwide and was named “Best Rock/Metal Album of the Year” in five countries. It’s a great testimony to all of his skills as a musician, singer, songwriter, and musical composer. 

See more about Snowy Shaw’s music here.

Interestingly for a heavy metal musician, Shaw also published an autobiography entitled The Book of Heavy Metal, a 464 page mammoth of a book about both Shaw and the real world of metal music. Shaw himself describes it as “the story of a manboy who refused to grow up and give up his dream.”

It’s this mindset, one of constant curiosity and dreaming, that has been the driver of Shaw’s career. “As a creative artist I think it’s essential to never stop being curious and moving forward, in order to maintain the passion and lustfulness. Keep that child inside alive. I’ve been able to do so, because I’ve never been afraid to take on new challenges and follow the path wherever my heart leads me, I think.”

The vast array of things Shaw has done over the last 30 years has led him to be called a “worldwide underground superstar” with a reputation for being “one of the most hard-working, multifaceted ‘art-ist’ with loads of groundbreaking creativity and integrity.” according to Blabbermouth.

When asked about his hobbies, Shaw comes up a little short, realizing all his interests and passion in music. “There’s nothing in the world that gives me more pleasure than to write songs and create those little worlds.” he told Metal Rules.

Are you a fan of Snowy Shaw? Let us know on Discord.

See our other articles about the musicians from Of Bird and Cage:

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