I adore what Shannon Hurley does. I have been a fan for years now and just had to interview her again for the site. She always a joy to interview this is what she had to say about it all.
1. What has changed for you as a musician doing it for long as you have?
Personally, it’s been about recognizing my strengths as a musician and capitalizing on them. I know I am good at writing top lines, and that is where I find my joy. The longer you do this job, the more you want to hone in on what you do well because it’s valuable for yourself and the others around you. I like being tucked away in the studio. Live performance is the icing on the cake. Songwriting / top lining is my skillset.
2. How does a song start for you?
Whether I am writing to a track that a producer gives me, or if I am starting one from scratch, many times I will start singing at the piano, just playing around with chord changes and vocalizing, not necessarily words yet. I think about things that have happened to me personally – sometimes that day, that week, or years past. It all usually comes together very quickly: melody, chords, and lyrics. Every once in a while I am given an assignment to write about a certain subject, and that is fun, challenging, and a good brain exercise, especially if it’s a subject that I wouldn’t normally write about.
3. How do you warm up your voice?
I took voice classes in college and also studied with Steven Memel here in Los Angeles, and they taught me the power of a good warmup! I do lip trills, arpeggios, and exercises to mix my chest and head voice. I do them daily. There’s a lot of spit on my piano afterward. It’s not a COVID safe activity, lol.
4 How do you look after your voice?
Some days I struggle with it because I work as a cashier at a busy store and I am talking all day long. When I can, I try to rest my voice. Also, I don’t eat dairy (for many reasons) but also because dairy produces excess phlegm. If I have a big studio session, I’ll try not to drink coffee or alcohol beforehand. Also, see above for vocal warmups
5. Do you write when you have inspiration or set time to write?
I try to write a little something every day, even if it’s just a chorus or a cool little riff that I can build on. I record it on my phone’s voice notes.
6. Has 2020 given you inspiration for your songs that you weren’t expecting?
I have written a few songs inspired by the pandemic – “Time To Love Again” with DJ T.H. and “Return To Life” with Activa. Both are about wanting to get to a place where we can end the suffering caused by the pandemic and start to heal.
7. How has 2020 affect you as a musician?
I was affected but not in the way I thought I would be. I didn’t miss live performing. I got to play a Zoom concert (as Lovers & Poets, with my husband Ben Eisen), presented by David Harvey. That was fun, but because it took Ben and I all day to figure out our setup and soundcheck, we were over the whole Zoom thing rather quickly (in addition to Ben being burnt out on using Zoom for his work and his podcasts constantly). I think I got exhaustion from the stress of dealing with my job during the height of the pandemic. I still managed to be consistent with practicing and songwriting, but it was difficult to spend a set length of time in the studio. I am still spending a little less time in the studio, instead finding time to garden, watercolor paint, and take care of our cats (we just got a new kitten, along with our resident cat, T-Bone), which has been quite healing.
8. Do you think you will do more vocal collaborations in the near future?
Yes yes, and yes!
9. How has having a patreon page help you as an artist?
Patreon has been wonderful. I like having a secret club where I can share new songs. I’ve released some wild stuff there! My patreon friends are my safe space. Releasing one song a month is the perfect way to keep up my writing and recording chops. It keeps me on task.
10. What have you listened to recently that inspired you?
Phoebe Bridgers, Japanese Breakfast, Grrrl Gang, and Charlotte Gainsburg are who I am currently listening to. They are all bringing something totally different to the landscape of modern music right now.
11. Any new releases in the pipeline?
I am writing and pitching several demos right now – fingers crossed!
12. Do you think social media is more important than it’s ever been?
Yes, but I’ve always felt that way even when I started writing in 2003.. I was trying to make my Garageband.com and mp3.com pages look really good. I’ve always loved connecting with people over music. Social media is a wonderful tool for music discovery. There are music discussions every day on twitter. Social media is not just good for fans connecting with an artist, but fans connecting with other fans over music.
13. Who has been your biggest help so far to you and your music career?
My husband Ben. He has been with me since the beginning of my songwriting career, back before we were even dating. He would drive me around to the different open mics in LA when I didn’t have a car. He is totally honest about where he thinks a song is good or not. And he is a fantastic bass player!
14. How do you think you will feel when you get back on stage playing?
I am ready for it. There are a few LA shows in the works right now.
15. What the best piece of advice you have been given?
I just finished the Marie Kondo book “The Life -Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” and I love her way of thinking: only keep the things that spark joy. For me, I am keeping what sparks joy – music (on my terms), and Ben