APRIL 12, 2008
5:00PM (PST)





SHAUNA BURNS is the quiet girl that we all knew in high school. She's the girl that drew a lot, smiled all of the time and sat on the grass barefoot while the other girls did each others hair and nails and talked about boys. It was easy to see the insecurity in girls like these but not in one like SHAUNA. She stands alone and isn't terrified of what's next.

What's next for SHAUNA is the release of her debt CD EVERY THOUGHT. All the press releases on SHAUNA compartmentalize her music as “..sounding like TORI AMOS” but this does the artist a disservice. While BURNS and AMOS have that penchant for haunting, stay-with-me-forever chord progressions, lyrically, the two couldn't be more different. Whereas AMOS relies on abstractions, BURNS relies on a more reliable stream-of-consciousness narrative voice in her lyrics. The story of a life trying to understand itself unfolds before the listener.

I had the opportunity to speak with SHAUNA BURNS over the phone. We talked about the anticipation of releasing her first CD, her one-year stay in Europe and Anthropology (not a subject that comes up with much frequency here at ROCKWIRED) this is how it went.

How are you doing today?
I actually just back from NEW YORK and it was so lovely. It was incredible.

Do you have family in New York?
No, I was actually visiting some friends there. We all got together and we saw SINEAD O'CONNOR.

Yeah. It was a real rarity. We were beside ourselves and that was the first time I ever saw her. It was amazing!

Where did you see her?
It was at WEBSTER HALL. It's an amazing venue. I guess it used o be the RITZ. It's kind of small and the decor is quite magical. It's got a lot of good energy to it. It was life altering.

You own CD EVERY THOUGHT is being released in MARCH. How does it feel to have this CD finished or close to finished?
It's strange in a way. These songs, some of them have been with me for quite a while. Th seeds of songs grow and they morph into different things and some of them like GHOSTS AND VAMPIRES have been with me for over ten years and it's interesting to see it all evolve and come full circle. When we were in the studio, my partner-in-crime JAMES CLARK who plays drums on the album put the rhythms to my songs and the songs became something else. They blossomed and morphed into something different and in turn different meanings come out. When we record, we do it all live; piano, vocal and JAMES on drums and sometimes a little other percussive sounds all together just to get that organic sound. Whatever happens happens and we try to capture that. It was a moving experience and it took me to place that sort of shocked me. I have lived with these songs forever and when you trust the other musicians to take care of them and when they interpret them it's really magical.

Is there any anxiousness on your part?
Sure. I think it always is in the begining because you never quite know how people are gonna react. The funny thing now is that people are actually starting to hear the music and even some of my friends who have heard the music but it sounds different or is ion another light now because the sound quality is a lot better now than the little albums I would give them. It's definitely surprising to hear different peoples reactions and what their favorite songs are. The best story on this is is about this song on the CD called REHEARSAL. I think it;s one of the most vulnerable songs on the album cause the character is very vulnerable Turns out that it's my mother's favorite song which I thought was really funny because coming from a mother and daughter you hate to see your child vulnerable, but my mother just loves it. When you expose and expressing what is truth, things come out that are unexpected.

How did it all begin for you? Music, I mean.

My mother is the real pianist in the family. When I was really little I would see her and imitate her and we always had a piano in the house. As I got older, she sat down with me and taught me chords and things like Broadway songs but then when you're starting to find your own identity in you pre-teen years, it's the perfect time to begin discovering different types of music. It's such an altering time . Music really started to speak to me back then and that was when I really started composing. Around the ages of 12 and 13 are started taking this whole music idea really seriously. It was a slow and gradual thing and then I discovered DEPECHE MODE. I actually saw them in concert too.

I did to. They are great!
Yeah. They never get old to me. It's just like coming home. When I discovered them, I wanted to be in DEPECHE MODE. I was like "Couldn't I be the the fourth girl in DEPECHE MODE? I can do this. They all play keyboards. I can do this!!!" They really opened the door for me and I began to explore other things like the CURE and of course TORI AMOS and SINEAD and SARAH MCLACHLAN. It snowballed from there. Music for me has always been this nice personal haven. Of course you often hear about people turning to music as a form of self expression but in my case it was just for me and I didn't play for people. Only when they asked or for special events or private things. I didn't start playing out until I moved away from home.

And you grew up in Miami?

What was that like for you?
When you're little you don't know any different, but I liked it. It was warm. My mom and dads families were from the west so I knew there were seasons but it is different especially in a cultural where there is a huge Cuban Spanish influence . I only know how to count to ten in Spanish. I don't know how that happened. Now that I'm older, I think I appreciate Miami a lot more. My parents still live there and I can visit. When I was younger, it felt like I grew up outside of the United States because it's so heavily Hispanic, but in a way I really like that .  It's very multi cultural which I really appreciate. Even more so now.

According to you press release you showed talents as a songwriter when you were 15. have any songs from that time found their way onto EVERY THOUGHT?

There is a song on the CD called VAMPIRES and I think that the seeds for that song go back to when I was about 17 and the snippy-snippiest of of a seed of the song CASTLE IN MY CLOUD goes back to when I was 18.

You made the transition from Miami to the mountains of Nevada and Utah. What triggered the move? I know that school was apart of it. Was there something else?
Yeah. My Mom is from Utah and my dad is from Nevada. They've lived everywhere and then ended up in Florida. I moved there mostly for school. Some of the reason I went was because I looked to the whole thing as an adventure and I was somewhat familiar with the area. Once school was over, I just stayed.

Did you study music in school?
Very casually. I toyed with the idea and then I came to the conclusion that I wasn't very good at following musical direction. I knew I was never going to be a classical pianist even though I think it sounds completely romantic. I just knew that a conductor would get mad at me because I improvise too much. I was going to school and working full time and eventually landed in Anthropology which turned out to be such an amazing experience and in turn fueled my music even more because I loved history and I also loved getting down to the nitty-gritty of not just what people had written but the bones and structure of how and why cultures existed. Why do we do the things that we do to each other? I think It fueled my music in a way that I don't think alot of other majors would've. I knew that even though I loved anthropology I probably wouldn't go on digs for the rest of my life. I needed something to fuel my songwriting in a way.

You made a name for yourself in local coffeehouses for your performances. What was the audience reaction to you and your music?
I started playing with the nudging of some friends, in coffeehouses. I don't know why I was completely terrified at first. Everyone at the coffeehouse was so lovely and so nice and I loved the experience of when there would only be a few people there and you'd be able to make that connection. That was just as moving and just as magical as if the house was packed.  I really like that sort of intimate setting where you can connected with the audience.

After college you pursued music full time. How exciting was that that? Or was it scary?
It was definitely scary because, after I finished school I definitely had to regroup. Sometimes you just know when there is a time for things. I packed up two suitcases and got on a plane for London.  We knew we had to regroup and put together these songs in a way that would be true to them and true to the album and give us the space to get it down. That was an amazing time, being in Europe and traveling everywhere. Having that space helped to propel everything forward with the album. Every thing fell into place. It was mind over matter really.

You spent a year in Europe. How long ago was that?
From 2003 to 2004.

Given today's political climate, What was it like being an American in Europe?
We were concerned about it. We didn't want to get egged down at the pub or anything like that . But to be honest, it was so good. Some of our best friends are still over there and I really can not think of an instant were I felt awkward or ashamed to say that I'm from the States.  I never had any anxieties and no one there ever made me feel out of place because of where I came from. People were very open and wanted to know about the the political climate here (in the United States)

Are there any songs from this CD that stand out for you in particular?
There are definitely a few songs that stick around more. Songs are temperamental. They are their own beings. I would say that NONSENSE, which is the longest song on the record, was a real turning point for me as a songwriter. The feeling that song gives me is the transition from no longer being na´ve and being shocked into reality. I always take that song very seriously. It's the only song on the record that got recorded in one take.

Are there any plans for a tour to coincide with the release?
Yes. We are going to be touring around. We are in the process of finalizing some dates.

Have you ever toured before?
Not properly. We 've played in small venues here and there so I'm really excited about the prospect of touring.

Explain the creative process to me. What goes into writing a song. is it habit or is it something that you've got to toil with or it just plain inspiration.
For me, I'm one of the ones that can't force the songs to come out. It think If I did force something, It's would sound palatable but it wouldn't be something that you'd want to hear every night. I put aside time where I'm open always to ideas and to inspiration. Sometimes it comes at the most inopportune time, and thats where you have to have the pen and paper handy.

Or a napkin?
Or a napkin. Sometimes it happens when you're tinkering and fooling around on the piano. Inspiration cal also come when something bad happens or when something serene happens. I think it's true on both spectrums.

What artists are you listening to now?
Like we said in the begining, I'm really into SINEAD O'CONNOR and her new CD THROW DOWN YOUR ARMS.

What would you like the listener to walk away with after hearing your music or seeing you live?
EVERY THOUGHT is about ever conscious thought. It's about opening your ability. In the art work on the cover, I'm holding these keys. For me it rhymes nicely with the piano keys as well but it's also about your keys in your hands. What are your keys in your hands? Each song i my mind is opening more and more and more into the idea of your own potential. it's adolescence growing into maturity. It's all about recognizing your own power. You're in the drivers seat. You're behind the wheel. I think that would be a nice thing to walk away with.