You have a new album, tell me about it.
I recorded my second album in Cape Town at the beginning of the year and am now busy finalising mixes and planning the release. “Fight A New Day” is an honest, twelve track studio album which I recorded with the same team that worked on my debut record and it’s a natural progression from my 2009 release. I’m really proud of what we’ve captured on this record and can’t wait to get it out into the world.
You recorded in Cape Town? Why?
Cape Town has become a second home to me over the past two years of touring and I use any excuse to visit as often as I can. I recorded my first album in Cape Town and decided to do the same thing this time around for a few reasons, the main reason being that I wanted to work with Tim Rankin (producer) again. Tim produced my first record with me and gets exactly where I’m going with my music so working at T-Time Studio, his studio in Cape Town, was the obvious choice for the new record. I also prefer being away from home when I record because it allows for a very focused schedule. Besides working with a restricted budget as an independent, recording an album in one or two weeks keeps the songs really fresh and I wanted to capture that raw energy, rather than over-produce the tracks which can happen when you have too much time on your hands. My sponsor, Kawai Pianos, who are based in Cape Town, delivered a grand piano to studio for this record, which was an incredible privilege and something which was only possible in Cape Town.
Any plans to tour internationally?
Definitely. I’m hoping to get back overseas for some touring over the next couple years, probably starting off in the UK.
Do you feel you’ve achieved success in the South African music scene? How difficult has it been? Any frustrations?
It is so satisfying finally being able to do music fulltime, and to a certain degree, that in itself represents a level of success in South Africa, but I’ve still got a long road ahead of me before I have achieved what I want to in my career. From the outset, I’ve reminded myself that music is a business and with any new business, it takes some time to get it off the ground and I think that’s helped to keep me focused because it’s not easy to keep your head down when things are difficult. Music is a subjective experience so there are always going to be hurdles to overcome and working in an unregulated industry obviously has its frustrations, particularly financially. As an independent artist, sometimes things may also take a little longer, but I get to do what I love every day and that makes the uphill battle entirely worthwhile and the victories that much sweeter.
You book all your own shows and get on with it. Have you always been so driven and focused?
This is my dream so I don’t really have a choice in the matter. At some stage I’ll employ an agent to run that side of things for me, but right now I’m really focused on building a sustainable career and I’m enjoying putting in the hard graft and motivated by the challenge of building something from nothing.
Tell me about your background.
I started playing the piano when I was six years old and was apparently singing before I could talk so music has always been a big part of my life. I was classically-trained through high school and have been involved in the music industry since ’98.
Are you artistic in other ways? Art, Theatre?
I majored in drama at ‘varsity and was always involved in theatre productions growing up. I’ve been doing some voice over work over the past year or so and have really enjoyed getting involved in that side of things again.
What inspires you to write songs?
I write honestly about my life so the inspiration comes from everything. I go through stages when I write a lot and stages when I don’t write at all. Sometimes a song will wake me up a 2am and sometimes it is a conscious process. I never know when inspiration will hit so I always keep a notepad with me and I have a database of recorded material – unreleased songs, half-written songs and basic ideas – to refer back to if I’m looking for some extra inspiration when I’m writing an album.
Other hobbies? How do you relax?
I have friends and family scattered across the country so whether I’m home or on the road, when I have some time off I can enjoy a braai, a good movie or a bottle of bubbly with my favourite people.
Something your fans don’t know about you?
I make a mean cheesecake.
Your dream gig?
Carnegie Hall with an 80 piece orchestra.
For more information on Shannon Hope, visit www.shannonhope.co.za.