Interview with Ridge Magazine

hot off the press

Written by Garth Johnstone

Garth Johnstone caught up with Umhlanga’s Shannon Hope – one of South Africa’s brightest music stars.

I first interviewed Shannon in April 09 in The Ridge magazine . . . and really got on well with this down-to-earth star of the local music scene. Shannon may be funky and cutting edge in her looks and music, but over a quiet chat she’s very calm and, dare I say it, “pleasant” company.

When we met then, she had just released her debut solo album S T I L L, and had quit her job to launch herself into music full time, touring the local scene. How much, I asked her, has changed in past year-and-a-half.

“Well, I’ve been on the road almost non-stop since then and my only regret is that I didn’t take the plunge sooner,” she says. “It was quite daunting at first, but it was the best decision I could’ve made because it’s given me the time and energy to really focus all my energy on my career, and I’ve had loads of fun along the way. I’ve been very focused on performing around the country over the past year, and have been on a few festival line-ups, including the National Arts Festival and have now done countless tours to Joburg and Cape Town, plus a national tour.”

And she’s been no slouch in terms of getting her brand out there. “Through my own publishing company, Openfire Music, I’ve set up a distribution network to stores around the country, as well as digital stores worldwide, and sold out of the first print of the album a few months ago, which I’m very chuffed about.”

Shannon must have have been one of the busiest musicians around in the past year, with regular updates online about local and national shows. “I’ve been primarily focused on getting around SA as much as possible and plan to keep touring the country as often as I can, with a few more “major city” tours lined up for the rest of the year. I did a national tour during the month of March, totalling about 8 000km around the country.”

What about international travel, I ask? “I haven’t been back overseas yet, but I’m looking at a few options for next year. I’ve met quite a few foreigners over the past year who’ve shown great interest in my music, so I’m keen to travel, most likely starting off in Europe.”

I asked how her songwriting had evolved in recent times. “I think my songwriting will always have a strong personal message and it continues to evolve and develop as I do. With it being so honest, the connection it creates with an audience is powerful and I really value that, so I’m still writing very honestly about my life and experiences. Some of the songs I’ve written for the next album have a very strong positive message about hope and passion, which I think reflects where I am in my life.”

Shannon says she enjoys performing with other musicians and hearing what they bring to her music, so her favourite medium remains to perform with a full band, or at least bringing in additional instruments. “My current performance setup varies depending on venue and occasion, but to be honest, this is mostly due to budget. The challenge of touring and performing on my own has taught me a lot over the past year and looking back has probably been the best foundation for me as an artist to now explore even bigger things.”

Technology, she says, plays a huge role in the industry today, especially in marketing. “I’m really working hard on developing and maintaining a constant online presence. My core focus is my website and blog, with networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and MySpace playing a vital role in developing relationships with the people who buy my music.”

Role models are endless, she says, “but some of my current inspiration comes from artists like The Fray, Regina Spektor, Feist, and The Swell Season. There are so many artists who are creating music with integrity and passion who inspire me, many of whom are South African and who I’ve shared a stage with over the past year.”

Bullish about future prospects, Shannon can’t wait to record her second album as soon as finances are in place. For the rest of this year there are a few more major city tours and festivals ahead, with another national tour as well as some international exploration in the pipeline. “So if all goes according to plan, next year I’ll be on the road around SA, and hopefully Europe, with another album!”

Shannon still calls Umhlanga home and, while jetting off around the country, is still passionate about her home town. “I’m not planning any great trek away from Durban anytime soon. With all the touring I’ve done over the past year or so, I’ve come to love Durban even more. It’s an awesome place to come home to.”

10 quick questions with Shannon Hope:
New York or Paris? New York
Pretoria or Cape Town? Cape Town
Beach or Berg? Berg
Cozy library or wild outdoors? Wild outdoors
Lady Gaga or Norah Jones? Norah Jones
Michael Jackson or Mick Jagger? Mick Jagger
Mozart or Metallica? Metallica
Fresh linefish or fillet steak and chips? Fillet steak and chips
Caramel ice cream or Lindt chocolate? Lindt chocolate
Beer or coffee? Coffee


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© Shannon Hope 2017