Tuesday, 30 June 2015

We're Only Here For The Banter - Shona Brown

Since November last year Glasgow based flautist and producer Shona Brown has embarked on an impressive, and fruitful, project; committing to releasing ten recordings over ten consecutive months.  If nothing else the project has brought her to the attention of music fans in Glasgow, with appearances on STV Glasgow and BBC Radio Scotland, as well as coverage by yours truly.  I wanted to catch up with Shona to find out a little more.

Hello!  How the devil are you?

I’m great thanks.  I’ve been clearing my head in the North West Highlands after a crazy busy time, culminating in playing with Mogwai at the Barrowlands!  I’m still buzzing...

It's the question everyone hates, but could illuminate our readers with a little bit about your music and your influences?

I guess it’s easier to talk to you about my influences than my music itself - I’m still trying to pin that down.  It’s kind of a blessing and a curse that I’ve had such wide influences.  As a musician I’ve worked in classical, jazz, folk, rock, world and choral music so it can leave me feeling quite confused.  In some ways I’m still striving to bring all my different ideas together into something unique and coherent.  That’s one of my main goals!

My whole work ethic and approach to music is heavily influenced by my classical training.  The music is made primarily of looped patterns which are manipulated in different ways and rise in peaks and troughs.  The main sounds coming through in my music are very ambient, strongly melodic, atmospheric and folk-heavy.  That’s how I hear it anyway!

What's your song-writing / creative process like?

Usually I start with a small idea - a chord progression or a short melody and see how far I can develop it.   Over the past year I’ve been learning Ableton and production for myself which has opened up vast possibilities.   It’s quite overwhelming, like learning several new instruments from scratch. I try to reign myself in creatively - I find limiting my options is helpful for coming up with more creative ideas.

Tell us about your recent '10in10' project.

I made the commitment to release 10 recordings in 10 months starting in November last year.   Some months I released EP's and other months just singles.  It’s very much connected with the fact that I’ve recently been able to produce music for myself.  It’s been a huge learning and developmental process and the idea, from a personal perspective, was to set myself a challenge which pushed me to really go for it.  Another reason is, as I said before, I struggle to decide where I fit in the music industry so it was a way to explore different musical ideas and to try to craft my sound.  I hope people have enjoyed hearing my explorations…!

Of the tracks you've released during the project, have any particular stood out as favourites?

As I mentioned, the tracks are all very different so I think different tracks have appealed to different people.  People seem to like my song Your Silence Is So Loud - it’s quite pop-influenced and upbeat so it stands out from the other more atmospheric stuff.   I’m quite hopeful for next month’s track, I think I’m starting to get closer to the sound in my head I’ve been striving for.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

Me, all alone, with my flutes, laptop and lots of pedals and hardware.  It’s a mixture of live looping, singing, fluting and some other instruments and samples.  Generally the music is quite atmospheric, but very varied.

What else have you got planned for the rest of 2015?

The 10in10 project wraps up in August (phew!).  I’ve got quite a few gigs lined up in all sorts of places.   I’m supporting All Kings and Queens at King Tuts on July 4th.   I’m also doing a run of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and playing at Arts centres in various Scottish locations.  You can check the list at my website www.shonabrown.com.   I’ll also be starting work on an album - hopefully to be released some time next year.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I love music which mixes up different genres - in my head it all comes together somehow.   At the moment I’m kind of obsessed with Nils Frahm, the beauty and integrity of his sound is incredible.  I’m also loving Gogo Penguin, Dahfer Youssef, Lamb, Amiina, James Blake and Vaughan Williams.

Check out more from Shona Brown

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