THE SCREAMiNG JETS
|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS SHAUNA BURNS
NO PARAMETERSI can always count on SHAUNA BURNS to throw me for a loop! She reminds me of this girl that I took a poetry class with back in my college days. Itís embarrassing for an English major to admit, but this girl used Ďbigí words in her often Ďabstractí poetry and as a result everyone in the class would scratch their heads at her superfluous vocabulary. Due to our ignorance, there was some scolding by the graduate assistant teacher for us not Ďutilizingí the language, but who the hell knew what ANAMNESIS meant? I canít remember if that was one of the words that was used by that poetess with the pierced nose but it damn well couldíve been. ANAMNESIS is the title of BURNSí latest offering Ė a five song E.P. that takes the listener on a musical journey through the five senses and does so with BURNSí inimitable, seductive coo. Despite the brevity, BURNS doesnít lose sight of the Ďconcept albumí leanings which she insists are incidental.
SHAUNA BURNS TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HER LATEST E.P. ANAMNESiS
DOiNG RENAiSSANCE FAiRS
AND HER AMBiTiON TO BE A VOiCE ON KiNG OF THE HiLL
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with SHAUNA BURNS over the phone. Here is how it went.
ANAMNESIS is your second E.P. Is it similar to you first one in that it comes at the end of the last album and is there to kill time between the next full-length release?
It is very similar to DESERT TUNE in that EVERY THOUGHT and DESERT TUNE I view as sister projects. I also view THE MOON AND THE FIRE CIRCLE and ANAMNESIS as sisters but with DESERT TUNE, all of the songs with the exception of WATERFORD were recorded with EVERY THOUGHT while ANAMNESIS was recorded completely separately and treated a little more individually. I definitely see them as sisters more so because the songs were written around the same time. I just think that they are continuing the story and tying it up nicely. Iím not sure if Iíll ever do that sequence again where we went ĎE.P., full-length, E.P., full-lengthí. It just sort of worked out that way weirdly. So the two projects are kind of similar in that respect.
Whatís different this time around as opposed to previous releases?
With ANAMNESIS, I didnít really have any parameters where as on THE MOON AND THE FIRE CIRCLE, I definitely had a structure to follow. I wanted it to have a DEPECHE MODE element to it. I wanted certain spacey aspects reflected in the music. Even though ANAMNESIS is the sister project, I didnít set any parameters Ė especially with the art work and the recording process. I said ĎLetís just do whatever the music calls for and push it as hard as it will goí. SMELL Ė the first song on the E.P. is kind of a good example of that. Lyric-wise it is the darkest the songs have ever been but it has this kind of creepy and expanding element with the distortion of vocals and Iíve never done that as harshly before. The songs fell free and donít feel as if they are constricted. Same with the artwork - we worked with the same photographer. His name is NICK ADAMS. He did all of the photography for THE MOON AND THE FIRE CIRCLE as well. Even though I donít consider myself gothic by any means, I thought that we should completely push the imagery as far as it will go and still have it seem like it is me but not too crazy. For the photo session, we did extreme makeup and we went to a place where all of the trees had been burnt by a fire in Utah. It wasnít very far away from where we recorded it. NICK has all of these special places that he knows of. All of thee secret places. The wind as howling and it just sort of felt like the song SMELL. That was the inspiration for the photo shoot. We wanted it to be a little raw and a little bit gothic-y but still be tangible to the music.
Explain the title ANAMNESIS?
Itís a tricky name. I like to confuse everyone as much as possible. ANAMNESIS Ė and this wasnít a word in my normal vocabulary Ė
Oh, I refuse to believe that!
(Laughs) I was looking for a word that incorporated this idea of songs being a touchstone from memories. I played with the idea having the word Ďmemoryí in the title but it all just felt really weird and kind of goofy. I was just looking in dictionaries and thesauruses and found this word that means reminiscence or memories. Later I found out that it had religious connotations. NICK ADAMS Ė the photographer Ė researched it a little bit and pointed me in the direction of PLATO philosophy. In PLATO-ism, it means the memory that you soul retains from a previous existence. I thought that was really neat in that songs remember from past lives and past existences and circumstances. The songs are our memories and they retain that. After the songs were put together, I liked that each of them represented the five senses. The song SMELL is obvious. A LETTER is sight, WIND is touch, DRIVING FAR is taste, and SO TELL ME is hearing. I liked all of these parallel meanings so that was the reason for the title ANAMNESIS.
It sounds like a compact little concept album and concept albums certainly arenít new for you.
I know I donít mean to be Ė
Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever! How long have I known you? You always make an album like this. All arrows point to one direction.
I donít mean to I swear!
I think you need to make an album of pop songs next.
One day, maybe.
Youíll shock all of us. Production-wise, are you working with the same people?
Yes but we have a few new people working with us. Obviously, I was on piano. JAMES CLARK Ė my husband Ė is on drums and STEVE LEMON did some guitar and bass and some programming. He has worked with us for a long time. RYAN TILBY introduced the Dobro to our sound. I had never had that on any of my work before which was pretty neat. We invited KILEY ASTLE to play violin. She is our bass player's girlfriend. She is an amazing violin player so she played on the last track. We also had a new cellist named STEVE NELSON. He played on the last song SO TELL ME. We had a couple of new people on this project but he core people are still intact. No one has jumped ship quite yet.
Has the process of songwriting changed for you at all?
Not completely. I think because we travel so much more, I have to be a little more vigilant in recording ideas and the take special time to put them together as opposed to before when I wasnít traveling which made it easier to sit down and tinker around and then remember it. My memory is getting to be little bit fuzzy so Iím finding that I have to document more. Other than that Ė traveling has really gotten the juices flowing for me. I find that the songs come really quickly when the environment changes and the seasons change. The process ahs pretty much stayed the same for me. There are days when the process can be slow and there are days when I just fee like watching KING OF THE HILL all day.
I didnít expect you to like KING OF THE HILL!
Are you serious? I love KING OF THE HILL! My dream is to be a voice on KING OF THE HILL.
And to play keyboards for DEPECHE MODE.
Exactly. They are going to tour this summer so Iím going to see them.
What do you think of the new album?
I really like it! I havenít read any of the reviews so I have no idea what anyone else thinks but I really like it. There is that one song PEACE that I love. The video for WRONG scared the hell out of me.
I havenít seen it.
Iíll go check it out on YOUTUBE.
Itís really dark!
Isnít it great that we have YOUTUBE where you can check out a video anytime you want?
Oh yeah! I think this album has elements of old DEPECHE MODE, which I like.
Some of the keyboard parts make it sound like VINCE CLARKE is back with them.
Yes! Totally! I love how they started the album with that abstract electronic riff.
The last time I interviewed you, you had said that you were going to be playing renaissance fair in New Mexico. Did it happen?
Yes! This is what we have to do now. That was the craziest trip! The whole band drove to New Mexico. The fair was in this town called Cloudcroft. The town is literally up in the clouds. Itís southeast of Albuquerque. It feels like youíre in the mountains in Utah. It rained all three days that we were there. I felt bad for the organizers but we still had a good time. It had a very good turnout. Speaking of Renaissance festivals, we just barely got back from one in Utah yesterday and that was really fun too. One day, I know Iím get a al from them say ĎOkay, we found you out! Youíre not playing anymore Renaissance fairs!í I understand that my music has that sort of Celtic-y feel to some of the songs and I get it. It totally dig the festivals and I love it. The people that are there are jus so nice. They are the biggest hearted people and you just fall in love with them. Itís been a real privilege to be able to sneak into their little realm but Iím always afraid that they are going to find us out.
Whenever I see that FREECREDITREPORT.COM commercial, I think of you.
Yes, I think of me too.
What would you like someone to come away with after theyíve heard this album?
I think ANAMNESIS is an extension of THE MOON AND THE FIRE CIRCLE but because I approached the album with the idea of not having any parameters, Iíve always like the idea of your path in life not being set in stone. You always have the chance to break out your own mold. I always like to think that the music is that. I like to think of the music as my Ďresetí button. Itís my touchstone. The music is all about going back to my core beliefs and the essence of who I am. I think it is interesting that the music parallels that and can be a touchstone for remaining true to who you are and follow any path you want. Your path doesnít have to be set in stone. You can go halfway down the path and say ĎOh, this isnít exactly what I thought it was so now Iím going to go on this other pathí. ANAMNESIS can be representative of that. Especially in the song SO TELL ME I thin think the voice in that song does that. She sort of thinks that she is trapped on this one way street but she realizes at the end that she holds the key to go on any path that she chooses. As the drums come up and the violins go and the piano accelerates, the music tells her that itís okay to be who she is and that she is not constrained by any parameters.