INTERVIEWS SHAUNA BURNS
THE GREATEST GIFTWith a debut CD, EVERY THOUGHT, behind her and a new release on the horizon, singer/songwriter/pianist SHAUNA BURNS has chosen to fill the gap between these two projects by releasing a six-song EP called DESERT TUNE (RED ROCK MUSIC). Recorded at the tail end of the sessions for her debut album, DESERT TUNE is a recording that stands on it's own.
BRIAN LUSH GETS RE-ACQUAINTED WITH SHAUNA BURNS
A ROCKWIRED EXCLUSIVE
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Her next release (untitled as of press date) is due out any time between now and the top of the forthcoming year, however BURNS has given the listener a little something to feast on in the interim with DESERT TUNE. It's easy to get lost in BURNS' ethereal vocals and gentle yet menacing piano - a delivery and performance that will bring about the obvious comparison to TORI AMOS. "I have a great respect for TORI." says BURNS. "I greatly admire her. I think it's a beautiful compliment [to be comapred to TORI AMOS]".
Indeed, DESERT TUNE is a welcome addition to the growing catalogue of work by this ROCKWIRED AWARD-nominated artist. In the future, BURNS promises an evolution in her already compelling sound. "Everything [in recording EVERY THOUGHT] was very organic and recorded live and with the new new record I did most of the recording of the piano and my voice live and we layered more loops and it has sort of a peppering of electrionica in it. I really love DEPECHE MODE so it has a darker edge to it and the songs deal with sort of the darker side of the soul a little bit. Mechanically, it was different working with the loops and working with tracks as opposed to 100% recorded all together live."
ROCKWIRED got re-aquainted with SHAUNA BURNS. Here is how it went.
You have this EP DESERT TUNE out now and you've got an LP on the way. How soon will that be coming out?
We're in the midst of trying to figure that out. I was really hoping to have it out by the summer but it may be in the new year. It's basically completed. We're just working on the booklet now. We're finalizing some new distribution so that's taking a little bit longer than I had anticipated, which is fine, because you don't want to rush these things.
In the meantime, we've got this EP. Are the songs on this EP going to appear on the new CD or is this recording a special entity all on it's own?
It's bascially a special one all on it's own but it's actually slanted more towards EVERY THOUGHT which was the debut album.
Yeah. The songs on DESERT TUNE were a part of those sessions. I see DESERT TUNE and EVERY THOUGHT together.
So it's not exactly an ugly stepchild then?
No, of course not!
This is your baby! In anticipation of the upcoming CD, which will be released God-knows-when, what do you think will be different this time around as opposed to EVERY THOUGHT? What's changed?
A lot has changed but of course I'm still me and I lean very heavily on the piano and that is still very prominent. The way we actuially approached recording the new record was different in that with EVERY THOUGHT, everything was very organic and recorded live and with the new new record I did most of the recording of the piano and my voice live and we layered more loops and it has sort of a peppering of electrionica in it. I really love DEPECHE MODE so it has a darker edge to it and the songs deal with sort of the darker side of the soul a little bit. Mechanically, it was different working with the loops and working with tracks as opposed to 100% recorded all together live.
Has the production team changed at all? Any new people on board with you this time.
We did bring in a few new instruments. There are two new people but the basic skeleton is still the same. I work heavily with the piano, keyboards, and vocals. JAMES CLARK is on drums. RYAN TILBY is our guitar god, STEVE LEVIN is our engineer but does a lot of bass and programming. CAROLINE KEMPER plays the harp, so my partners in crime are still entact.
I remember the last time I had interviewed you, EVERY THOUGHT had not yet been released, and you were quite anxious to get the music out there. How did people react to it once it was released?
Very sweetly. It's funny when I get peoples feedback from the music. It's extremely humbling when you send out these little songs that have been with you and that you have nurtured and tended to and its very humbling to hear peoples reactions. What struck with me the most is how poignant that can be and how as a songwriter you may think you're being a little obscure or sly with your message and the people that take it in and embrace the music know what you're talking about and they relate to it and apply it to their lives. It's almost like univseral law and the connection is magical.
How long did it take to record this EP?
It didn't take very long since we were in the studio doing EVERY THOUGHT. We kind of snuck these in at the end. The funny thing in putting it together was, I had forgotten to record the song WATERFORD. I don't know how that didn't happen, so we quickly ran into the studio before the EP was going into press and we got it on. I'm so glad I remembered.
You seem to have a fondness for the mountains and the desert. It's referenced in your work quite a bit. Is that a motif that will continue to be used in the upcoming CD? Is it always going to be with you?
I think subconciously it always will be. The connection to the west and the desert and the mountains. The new album is different. It's sort of in this universe but not really. It's not so black and white.
In your opinion, what makes an album great?
I think for me, when I find an album that sticks with me for years and years and years I just have to sense that the artist and songs come from a real place. I think that sincerity is important. When I sense the sincerity and that the music is a part of them, it's wonderful. We just went to the COACHELLA FESTIVAL and saw BJORK. I have never seen her live before and If don't know how I've lived through my whole life without seeing BJORK. I saw her and this is a beautiful example of how her music and her physical self are the same. When you see her perform, there is no doubt that her music is her. There is almost no seperation and it is powerfil and overwhelming to see and that is what I'm drawn to.
What other artists have done that for you. What other records would you use as examples?
Speaking of BJORK, her album VESPERTINE is one of my all time favorites. I also think- I think we talked about SINEAD O'CONNOR the last time.
We did. You saw her in New York.
SINEAD O'CONNOR had a little album called GOSPEL OAK. It was an E.P. because it only had six songs. She released it right after the album UNIVERSAL MOTHER. To me, GOSPEL OAK is one of the most perfect albums because the energy in that album still blows me away. I have to be in a certain place when I listen to it. That album is one of the pinnacles in spirituality in music. I read in an article somewhere that she said that UNIVERSAL MOTHER was her question to the universe and GOSPEL OAK was what she believed was her answer. It's the perfect example of the energy and the muse speaking through the person.
How long were you on the road promoting EVERY THOUGHT?
We were on the road off and on all of 2006 from April to September or October.
What was that experience like? Had you ever toured before?
No. I had only done local shows. It was really neat. I really enjoyed it. I loved meeting people and all of the different places that we played. We did a leg where we did a show in Boston and then New York. I did most of the shows solo but we did do some shows with the full band and New York is just pure magic. We did our New York show and our guitarist RYAN said that he going to "play very casually and very tastefully tonight" We get up there, and I don't know what it was, but this was the most rockin' show we had ever done. It was like AXL ROSE invaded my body or something.
Has the creative process changed for you at all since we last spoke?
No. My process stays pretty solid. I definitely have to make time to sit with the piano and nurture and harvest the ideas. Somedays, lots of stuff comes and somedays nothing comes. Traveling and flying around helps. We did a tour in the UK and everytime I'm over there, it's always a good source. It's all about getting a different point of view. I had never played a show in the UK and that was really really special. That was in January. We did a tiny little UK tour in places like Oxford and London which was different. We were playing in this little tiny town outside of London and had no idea what to expect. We were playing with another band, and I thought that I'd do a solo thing instead of having a full band. We get to the venue and the place is rocking and it's packed. STEVE and JAMES were there thank God! So we decided to do a full band show instead and we asked the other band if we could borrow their drums and bass. So we went on with the gig and we rocked and we did very well, and as we were gathering our stuff this very sweet old man comes up to us and says "you guys were really good". And we we said thank you to him and after that, he said "if you guys were lousy they would've BOOED you out of here!" I was so glad he told us that AFTER we played. It was good.
Are you planning to tour anytime soon, again?
We're going be doing some little shows here and there but right now we're trying to pin down some dates for the summer.
Any plans to tour in support of somebody, or do you want to keep it strictly SHAUNA BURNS?
We're definitely open to supporting someone else.
Who would you like to open for?
I would love to open for IMOGEN HEAP. I'm really into her latest album, SPEAK FOR YOURSELF. At first it reminded me of BJORK, but now that I know her, I think she's really distinctive. Her stuff is electronic but shes got some piano and harp.
In the press releases for you, It breaks down your sound as "sounds like: TORI AMOS". What do you thnk about that?
I have a great respect for TORI. I greatly admire her. I think it's a beautiful compliment.
The last time I spoke to you, I asked you what it ws that you wanted a person to walk away with after listeing to the music? How about now?
I wonder if I'll say the same thing. I think that there is definitely for me when you have a connection between music and healing, and comfort, that could be the greatest gift that you could give and receive. Lately, that's been heavily on my mind, about the idea of music being a comfort and an inspiration for you to do your best. I think the whole reason I write music and have to nurture and bring songs forth is for a comfort for myself and others as well, if they choose to embrace it. When the tragedies happened in Virginia, everyone was shocked and feeling the emotion of the situation, I got a message from someone who was affected by what had happened. It was just a really sweet message on how the music had helped him through the day. I think that is what music is best at. Making music for the sake of comfort is the pinnacle I think.
READ THE PREVIOUS ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHAUNA BURNS HERE
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