In 2009 Shannon released her first solo album – Still, an emancipation that unleashed the singer’s unique vocal competence.
Having played piano since the early age of six, it is no surprise that she returned in 2011 with an album even bigger and better than the last.
Later that year, Shannon was awarded a Standard Bank Ovation Award by the National Arts Festival for her nine show run in July 2011 – in recognition of “artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversations through the arts.”
Indiedoesit took time out of their day to get up close and personal with the award-winning pianist and vocal artist.
Did you study music?
I was classically trained throughout school, and did music as a matric subject, completing my piano grades through Trinity College.
Do you play any other instruments?
I played the clarinet and flute very briefly in highschool, but piano and voice was always my biggest focus.
What has the feedback from the fans been like since the launch of your solo career?
The music that I write is very honest and personal, and that creates a very meaningful connection. It’s been incredible to hear stories from fans about how my music has spoken to their story and affected them in some way. There is something very powerful about that shared connection, and it’s made my fight that much more meaningful.
What was it like working with Bjorn Thorsrud?
I met Bjorn on my first tour to the States with Ketamine when we played a Smashing Pumpkins Tribute, and we ended up flying him over to SA to record a few tracks a few years later. I think I learned the most from those 10 days in studio than I did in 10 years in the industry, about songwriting, about myself as a songwriter, about producing albums, about hard work and dedication… It was an incredible experience.
Tell us about your new album?
The new album is the next edition in my story. A lot of it was written just after I went fulltime so it’s very much about that process, about believing in who you are and having (or finding) the courage and determination to believe that you can be that. I think it’s a natural progression from the first album, with a slightly bigger, more driving sound, and one or two fun tracks thrown in. I’m trying not to take myself too seriously anymore.
What is the purpose of your SA tour?
I’m generally always on tour, but the winter tour is based around my third season at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, which is my favourite 10 days of the year. I’ve been trying to streamline my touring a bit more this year, so it made sense to book a national tour around the festival, with smaller tours planned for later in the year.
What is the premise on which your lyrics are established?
I write primarily about my life and my experience of the world, and I try to do that as honestly as I can without being too precious about where the story came from so that I serve the song first. It’s an interesting challenge to separate yourself from your emotional investment in a song and still write something meaningful, but it’s important because it allows the listener to create their own back story.
How does your music reflect who you are as a person?
Being very personal and honest, my music will always reflect who I am as a person, even though I leave a lot of the details out (to serve the song over the story). This is the kind of music that I’ve been writing all my life, although it obviously changes and develops as I do, and the lyrical content changes the more I learn about myself and the world. I also listen to a lot of different artists all the time and go through phases in terms of the kind of music I’m into, and I hear that come across subtly in my writing from time to time, which is great because it means I’m staying relevant and authentic in that moment.
Do you have any plans to return to America in the future?
I’d love to do some international touring and America is definitely on the list. Being independent, I’ve focussed my funds on recording, and local touring and promotion, but I’m hoping to get overseas as soon as I can afford to. One of the tracks from the new album was recently play listed on a radio station in England, so hopefully it’ll happen sooner rather than later.