Shane Blackshaw: Emotion Is Everything

Our latest artist interview showcases the talented Shane Blackshaw who has a new single out this week on Paul Hazendonk’s Manual Music.

Shane Blackshaw

1. Hi Shane, thanks very much for joining us here! This is the first time we’ve interviewed you so let’s give our readers and your fans some background info. How old are you and how long have you been producing and Djing?

I’m ageless ;). I couldn’t call myself a DJ, though I definitely love to mix, I’ll leave that title for the experts. I’ve been producing for a few years, and working as a featured vocalist for around the same time.

2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously?

My whole childhood was geared towards a career in theatre…but when I finally got to the end of my study it all felt kind of empty. I turned to song writing as an outlet for the unrest I felt. There wasn’t a choice or a point where I thought ‘this is what I want to do!’ – writing, and this need to connect has always been there. There is nothing in this world like hearing that lyric, or that progression that somehow represents you completely and utterly in a moment in time. I guess that’s why I’m pursuing it, because I know what that tastes like.

3. You are now living in London, UK but are originally from Australia,  why and when did you re-locate and how does London compare to back home from a music and nightlife perspective? How have you changed musically since the relocation?

I relocated about 5 months ago. I love Australia, and I miss it. But everything was getting a little repetitive and I knew I had to propel myself out of my comfort zone and try to create some movement. Feed my soul. London is a tough lady – but she’s certainly inspiring. She kinda forces you to identify what you really want. Fight or flight. Club life here is a lot different to back home. House is woven into the culture here so deeply, but in Australia it’s managed to stay fairly underground until recently, which has worked in its favour. The restraint has bred a real sense of community and respect for the craft.

4. You have a beautiful new single out this week on Manual Music entitled ‘Nobody Knows’, tell us a bit about that one, do the lyrics have a special meaning for you? and tell us a bit about the production process for it.

Thank you :). Yeah it’s a special one. It was born of some seed; the need to evacuate my home in search of more, despite the repercussions. But during the writing process I realised these words were also coming from somewhere else – it became clear that this song was a three way – a conversation between myself, Russia, and Freedom. Our fundamental right; the right to love.

5. I’ve read that you originally worked on acoustic projects exclusively, when and how did that evolve into what you are doing today?

I started out writing with my brother (Sevenoak) when we were kids. Mainly guitar driven acoustic pieces, folky but with sampled beats. The more I grew, the more I played with looping phrases, bars and motifs..I became really passionate about finding that one poignant melody, riff or rhythm..and seeing how far I could take it. I think that’s partly why house is so immediate. It’s more pulse than ‘performance’, and I think that’s why we’ve developed such a strong connection to it – because it’s tribal.

6.  Your music has a major emotional component I would say. ‘Nobody Knows’ while perfect for a dance floor still carries quite a poignant, listenable vibe.  What if anything inspires this in your music?

Emotion is everything. How else do we write and create the things we do? Because we’re compelled to. It’s all a little snapshot of us, of who we are in time. It’s the sonic version of our insides. Real people and real feelings fuel all these beats and words and chords. They’re man made. Sometime’s alone, and sometimes collaboratively. That’s why I love this medium. Some have seen electronic music as ‘hiding behind computers’, but at the end of the day someone pressed the button – some incredible human made the machine. I think that’s beautiful.

7. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?

Initially I was self taught, my dad helped us build a studio in a our garage, and we just tried to make things sound decent with dirty cheap microphones and Cubase. I studied audio engineering very briefly and learned some tricks, but it became clear that a) I was on the wrong side of the microphone, and b) I don’t care about sound quality, I care about sound integrity. A wise man once told me to use less compression…I’m trying :).

8. What does your current studio consist of and what are some of your favourite programs / tools to use?

My Rode NTK microphone is my baby – she’s travelled a long way with me. I’m a Pro Tools all the way for recording and processing live audio, but when it comes to composition nothing beats Ableton. I jam all of my ideas out in there.

9. What’s a normal day like for Shane Blackshaw? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?

Juggling my day job with my music self is a little tricky, but it’s the way it has to be right now. I’m hanging out for the day when music outweighs the other. Slowly but surely. 

10. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effort on your own productions?

I’ve always been drawn to the juxtaposition of voices and acoustic instruments against electronic beats. Interesting voices that tell stories not only in lyric, but in their sound – and this is what I listen to most. Alison Goldfrapp has been a major influence on me, Róisín Murphy, Stevie Nicks. Daniel Johns played a big part in my creative development growing up, as did Maynard James Keenan. Tori Amos is a goddess. I’m pretty much a fan of anyone that has the guts to show their ugly, raw insides. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they influenced my own work, I think it’s subliminal.

Shane Blackshaw

11. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?

When working from the ground up, I spend far too much time finding the right snare, or the right kick. I think I work much better in a partnership or collaboration as it gets me out of my own head. I mean you have to compromise on things, but for me, working with others allows me to explore more.

12. What are you currently working on? What can we expect to hear from you for the remainder of 2015?

I have quite a few more collaborations coming out in the first part of the year which have kind of crept up on me! It’s exciting to be collaborating with artists from different parts of the world – something I didn’t see coming, but loving the experience.

13. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?

My father introduced me to Tori Amos when I was a kid. ‘Cruel’ and ‘Juarez’ were definitive for me…the sampled beats are as much a part of the story as the lyrics. 

14. What was the first and last record you purchased?

First record was TLC’s ‘Crazy Sexy Cool’…so sass. Last record purchased was ‘Give It Up’ by Bambook. The original mix and Chaim’s remix are both exquisite.

15. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days. Which ones if any standout for you?

I had been watching Manual Music for a long time before I worked with Paul and the team..I love their fearlessness and the sheer variety of material they cover. Guy J’s label Lost & Found has been putting some out incredible, passionate pieces over the last couple of years. They embrace this sound that makes you forget about the rest of your life. It’s really spiritual. It would be an absolute honour to work them.

16. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?

Fleetwood Mac – ‘Dreams’
Rodriguez Jr. – ‘Satellite’
Luca C & Brigante ft. Roisin Murphy – ‘Flash Of Light’
Ananda Project – ‘Cascades Of Colour’.

‘Nobody Knows’ is out now on Manual Music, you can purchase the release: here

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