Spotlight Interview With Shawn Brown
Shawn Brown just released an EP that gives the sweet and warm sounds of his unique and catchy folk-rock tonality complete with a live band feel and an alluring and cinematic songwriting style.
The Angel Of Oakland EP is a gorgeously strung together record that features an array of wonderfully textured guitar work and lyrics that easily paint pictures with vivid detail and a real story telling approach.
The record boasts some outstanding hooks all around and the production has a great sheen to it that makes the songs almost feel like they've been on the radio for years already.
What really gets you reeled in is Brown's vocals being performed with such a gusto and passion.
You can clearly hear the love he has for his craft and it really showcases a youthful energy and a seasoned set of songwriting skills.
Acoustic based and electric overlaid guitars flow and fill the atmosphere with a wonderful feel and you quickly become attached to each of the 3 singles from this release.
Each track has some killer hooks both vocally and musically and that live in room feeling stays strong throughout the records course.
With such a beautifully woven EP we wanted to have a chat with Shawn Brown about where this all came from.
Here's what happened.
RAG: So let's start with the Angels Of Oakland EP. This record has a classic rock undertone and feels emotionally driven for sure. Where did this EP come from?
Shawn: First off, thanks for checking it out! It’s been such a fun project to do and I’m super chuffed that folks have been liking it - especially since it had been such a LONG time since I put anything out. Essentially, right before the pandemic really kicked off, I had really been thinking a lot about getting back to my own music. I reassembled Shawn Brown Trio and had booked shows to get back into the groove of playing. While it ended up being clear that none of those shows were going to happen, Rafa Lima (SBT bassist) and I were already off and running on developing new songs and we just pivoted all that energy into a recording project. Rafa brought in Grecco Buratto (guitarist for Shakira, Gwen Stafani, Pink) and Grecco brought in Brendan Buckley (drummer for Shakira, Morrissy, Perry Farrell, Tegan,
and Sara). So before I knew it, we had this killer all-star band cutting these new tracks. Due to the pandemic, everyone was sitting around at home, so recording parts and developing the sound was actually pretty simple. With guys like that on board, you just sit back and let them do their thing and the energy of the songs just explodes out of
RAG: I'm hearing loads of soul vocally and some great styles throughout the EP. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Shawn: Awesome that you picked up on the soul thing! I could go on and on and on about influences (and I surly have), so I’ll spare you that nonsense and give you the “Cliff Notes”. I grew up a little alternative rock kid. I loved and still love all those early 90’s Seattle bands and was in and out of punk rock bands like that in the early days. That said, when I opened my mouth to sing, I just didn’t sound like those folks. In looking for more common sensibilities, I stumbled upon Jeff Buckley's “Grace” and Marc Cohn’s debut record and things really started to click for me. There was something about those iconic singer-songwriters that always felt really soulful to me so I set about trying to emulate lots of that stuff. Counting Crows has always been HUGE for me. John Melloncamp. Bryan Addams….and Otis Redding. Obviously, it all starts and ends with that guy for most of us.
RAG: So, how did all of this start for you?
Shawn: I’m really one of those guys that just has always been a fan. I loved music so much that I just had to figure out how to play. I taught myself how to play guitar and immediately started writing my own songs. Most of which were God-awful, but they were mine and I loved it. Then busking, then coffee shops, then clubs and so on. I still love singing and playing as much as I did as a kid. Love. It!
RAG: What do you think is next for you as an artist?
Shawn: So as it turns out, the EP “Angel of Oakland” is actually the first of two EPs that we’re making with this same killer group. My hope is to get the second one out in early 2022! It’s sounding incredible, so I can’t wait for folks to hear these new songs too. Now that we’ve “fine tuned” our recording process, this band is just far too good to not keeping
right on goin’.
RAG: Have you given any thought to live performances anytime soon?
Shawn: For sure! I THINK about playing all the time. Unfortunately, the pandemic isn’t just cooperating, is it?. I’ve played a few solo shows over the last few months and am really hoping to be able to get out there playing far more regularly. I miss it!
RAG: Can we expect any music videos from you this year?
Shawn: That would be fun, right?! Nothing is planned but I’m damn sure open to ideas.
RAG: Who Are you listening to right now?
Shawn: Oh wow - so much great music out there! Again, if you get me started on this I might just go on forever. I frickin love Patrick Droney’s record. Noah Gunderson just put out an incredible record. Spit Single’s new album totally slaps. BRANDI CARLILE! Wild Rivers...and Mastadon. Love those guys!
RAG: What kind of things really inspire you to write?
Shawn: When I write songs just for me, I always wear my heart on my sleeve. So that's a real throughline for the songs on “Angel of Oakland”. Certainly the lockdown experience gave us all a shit-ton to think about, so there’s been no shortage of feelings to put to song - that's for sure.
RAG: How do you write your songs? Is it lyrics first or guitar chords? How does it work for you?
Shawn: Strangely enough - both. I typically have a running notebook of lyrics and ideas that I’m always scribbling in. Then completely separately, I’m often picking up the guitar and just searching for changes and riffs. At some point, I’ll cross reference and see if there’s anything there to combine. When I used to write with folks in Nashville though, that kind
of process would drive me bananas! It was so much easier when people came in with a defined possess, so essentially, I drive myself crazy with my own.
RAG: This EP feels like it was a big undertaking. What advice would you have for other up and coming artists out there?
Shawn: I’m pretty biased towards the “doing” side of all this. Write what YOU feel and sing how YOU sing it. The word authentic gets misused a lot in music circles. For me, authenticity is purely an artist being brave enough to be themselves and having a go.
RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Shawn: I’m just so fired up that people have been hearing this stuff. I have so much gratitude for every single listen on any platform, every share, every comment. It means the world to me that folks care.