Angel & Other Stories – 5 track EP
Hi Shaun, how are you?
I am great, thanks! How’s about you?
Which instruments do you play?
I play six string guitar – both acoustic and electric.
What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
I am a very lucky guy. I get to be a solo artist and I am also a singer in a local rock covers band as well. I love both….solo is me and my take on the world and the band is just so much fun! The band is called Cyanide….www.reverbnation.com/therealcyanide.
Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
Yes, I do. I am collaborating with Adrian who is lead guitarist in the band on material for my first album.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Hmmm…..I would class it as melodic, classic rock with an acoustic twist…..some have said it’s like Bon Jovi with a twist of Tom Petty thrown in.
What have you been up to recently?
In April of this year, I had my first big break playing live on the Sue Marchant Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Adrian and I played a couple of tracks (Angel & Heroin of the Soul) and I was interviewed as well.
I have worked hard this year to get my EP released in July and have been promoting it as much as I can. I am currently working on a deal to start getting physical CDs for the EP shipped as well. The band only started up in April and we have been working hard as we started gigging locally in August.
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
I am currently writing material for my first album and hoping to have that in demo format by the end of this year and (time and finances permitting) have an album ready by April 2011. I will be using a site called IndieGoGo to finance the album (www.indiegogo.com) and ALL fans will have an opportunity to invest in the making of the album. Everyone who invests will get a share ranging from a free download of the album to a day in the studio seeing it being recorded. Watch this space!
Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
I have always loved music but when I was young, I never really got in to getting in to a band or anything. I should have maybe but hey, that is the way it goes! I went through a tough divorce in 2006 and picked up a guitar for the first time and so the journey began….
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Loads of different stuff…..ranging from what my parents used to play; Beatles, Nat King Cole, Buddy Holly, Dave Clark Five…in my teens it was Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Poison, Queen…..whereas now it tends to be a mix of Bon Jovi, Springsteen, Nickelback, Eagles….plus a number of independent bands I really like such as Spaceship Days, Haunting Heather, Lynn Carey Saylor and plenty of others!
How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
After my divorce in 2006, I started writing and experimenting with my new guitar. I then met my second wife, Michelle, that summer. My nickname for her is Angel and hence the track Angel was born! I guess you could say she was my muse, right? I started some guitar lessons then also to expand my knowledge of the guitar and my guitar teacher became my producer. I realised I could sing and did a cover CD single of “You Had Me From Hello” by Bon Jovi for Michelle on our wedding day.
I then started recording seriously in 2008 and began to learn how the recording and songwriting process worked, plus did a few live gigs with my producer’s band. I only did rhythm guitar and a few backing vocals at this point but sure as hell got the bug for performing live!!!
Angel was released as a download towards the end of 2009 and I just haven’t looked back. I love writing and I love performing, whether that be solo or with the band.
What was your first music making experience?
My first real recording experience was getting in the studio to record the Bon Jovi cover for my wedding day. It was an exciting experience for me….I’d never recorded anything vocally in a “real” environment before and loved the whole process…even when my producer had to keep getting me to do re-takes!!!
What is your current equipment?
I have three guitars right now….
1. Lindo Black Fire electro-acoustic
2. Hohner Countryman regular acoustic
3. JHS Encore Fender Strat replica
I also run a Behringer Eurorack MX1804X mixing desk at home which links up to my laptop using an EMU-0202 external sound card. I am currently using Magix software to record but I am considering Cubase at some point also.
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
I initially had some lessons with the producer who produced my current EP. However, I am now practicing on my own and learning all the time. I quite often just play some notes on one of my guitars and like what I hear. I then check out what chord or note it is and work around it. I have often incorporated that in to my songwriting.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
On the acoustic side, it would have to be a Takamine EF341SC in gloss black (same as Jon Bon Jovi). On the electric side, I would love a 50th Anniversary Gibson Les Paul Custom (known as a Black Beauty). These cost as much as a decent car so I may need to save some money to get one!
I would also like to fit out a room in my house as a studio. I currently use my home office to record but it would be great to have all the right soundproofing etc. But, hey, I am now heading off in to fantasyland……!!!! Maybe one day, eh?
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Yep, I sure do. I use my Lindo Black Fire during most live performances.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
My songwriting tends to come from my observations of life itself. Angel was about how I felt about my lovely Michelle. Heroin of the Soul is about a friend of mine who went through a difficult relationship. Where Is The Love? is all about how our society is more concerned about the latest model of TV they have rather than the love they have. I love to write from the heart about things I feel and what I see. It just seems to work that way.
When writing, I quite often find a couple of chords and put words to them or vice-versa. I then build around that. Or I may just write down a phrase and think there is a song there. It can really vary. I can be sitting with Adrian and he will kick out a chord and I’ll play something that harmonises with it. It is a big canvas with an unlimited amount of colours you can use.
Which software/recording process do you use?
I used Cubase on my EP as that was what my producer uses. However, I have now started recording my own material using Magix. I would like to move on to Cubase at some point though, just to get more experience.
It also depends on what the studio is using at the time. It could be ProTools, Cakewalk, Cubase…..all depends on the producer and the studio.
Would you sign with a major record company?
Absolutely. If the deal was right and I felt good about the people involved, I would sign. However, the music industry is changing. You don’t get those big label deals like you used to. If it happened, yes, I would love to but there are now many other avenues you can consider.
Do you have any new recordings planned?
I sure do! I am currently working on the first album and have the first three tracks on the go at the moment…..names of the tracks are as follows; Running Out Of Time, 3am (as in morning) and Brotherhood. I am aiming for 12 tracks so, hey, the hard work starts here!
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
I like to be heavily involved. Without sounding big-headed, this is my project, my album and I want to look back and be proud of it. I also want everyone who buys it to be proud of it too! I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. I want to make sure it is something I can look back on and say to myself “I did my absolute best on that one”.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Yes. It is something I would be interested in later on down the line.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I love recording. Yes, it can be boring listening to a mix over and over to get it “just right” or recording a vocal 5 or 6 times but it is a lovely process. It is a labour of love and when you come out the other side with something you are very happy with, it is extremely rewarding. It does get easier….my vocals, for example, have improved tremendously since I started recording so I now can lay down a vocal in two, maybe three takes. It also helps me with live performances as well by letting me know how to use my voice effectively.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
I like my studio material to sound as polished as possible. You will hear that on the EP. However, my acoustic version of Angel, known as Angel (Unplugged) won a competition I ran recently for my fans. I offered some free MP3s if the fans let me know which version of Angel they liked the most. Angel (Unplugged) won by a landslide! I think that your studio material should be shiny and polished. Then, live performances will sound that little bit grittier, a bit more edgy. It also then allows you to improvise and surprise the fans once in a while when you are playing live! The fans will then remember the live performance. Bon Jovi are superb at doing that. Last concert I saw them play the band all came out on to a walkway in the centre of the crowd and played an acoustic set with requests! Not only did the fans love it but it proves that they can really play, right?
Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
Simple. All of them but for different reasons. Angel, because it is about Michelle. Heroin because it is from a deep dark place where we have all been at some point. Where Is the Love? because it is me asking why we are the way we are right now and Spider’s Web for the vocal harmonies that came out so damn fine! There are five levels of harmony on that track, all sung by me. I also love the whalesong effect my producer added right at the last minute!
Angel (Unplugged) is VERY special. It has been remixed and remastered for the EP but it is and always will be my first ever live performance and interview. I will always remember that. So Sue, thank you so much for having me on the show and Lynn, thank you so much for getting me in touch with Sue!
Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
Mainly, yes. I like to see myself as a storyteller or message bringer. Look at all the really successful songwiters out there. Springsteen writes about blue-collar society and how their lives are. Bon Jovi do the same. If you write about themes and stories that resonate with how a fan feels or thinks, then the song works. I want my fans to hear one of my songs and think, “Hey, I feel like that” or it makes them happy or feel better by empathising with how they feel.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
It really does vary. Angel took me a long time to get just right. It was a labour of love, literally, and I wanted it just so. Heroin, on the other hand, took me an hour to write and then another hour to come up with a basic melody and arrangement. It is a true four chord trick, as they say!
Sometimes, it just flows. Other days you can spend a whole day just on a chorus or a phrase, or even just a chord. It all depends. It is always a work in progress.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Wow….now there is a question. I would love to work with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. I love the way they create tracks that the more you listen to them the more you find inside. Another band I would love to work with are Rascal Flatts. I love their country rock sound and I would love to incorporate that in a track.
On the independent side of things, I would love to work with Spaceship Days, Haunting Heather or Lynn Carey Saylor. They all have their own sound and individuality and I love that. They are all recognisable by their sound and that would be something I would love on an album of mine.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
Lennon & McCartney….for their innovation.
Bon Jovi & Sambora….just for being them, they rock!
Simon & Garfunkel….for their beautiful harmonies.
Bob Dylan….for being different and staying true to his own values
Johnny Cash….for saying it how it is.
Which countries have you gigged in?
I have only gigged in the UK, but would love to gig elsewhere at any opportunity!
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
I would love to tour in the USA (they love us Brits!) and also Japan and Europe, also Australia.
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
I tend to use the power of the internet. Social networking seems to be the way to go. I am now also getting airplay on some internet radio stations. I am even getting requested on some shows, which I find exciting and very flattering at the same time. I have also had a few interviews for internet radio too.
Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
My main internet site I use is ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com/shauncbryant). I also make sure I tweet on Twitter and keep up with my fans on Facebook as well. ReverbNation has a superb tool for linking Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to your ReverbNation account so that only one status update is needed. I sell my music on ReverbNation also. Angel and Heroin are also on iTunes.
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Totally. I would never have even been noticed otherwise! There are some unsigned artists out there who are making more money from being unsigned on, say, ReverbNation, than if they were signed to a major label. The internet is great for that and you have a worldwide audience from a spare room in your house too!
With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
I actually think that there could be too many out there! If you are new to this business and want to be unsigned, it can be really confusing. Plus, there are some sites that I just would not trust. I have recently had a VERY bad experience with one and lost money. Do your research. Using ReverbNation as an example, just find a music forum and ask the question about which site you should use, then based on the response, sign up to it and then contact some of the other bands on that site and ask if they are happy with it. Word of mouth seems to be the best way to find out. Saying that, ReverbNation is great. Comprehensive and easy to use and they send you opportunities too, such as festivals you could play etc. OK, they are US-based so a lot of it is US-orientated but it sure works for me!
How do you relax?
I did do a lot of rock-climbing but I have now got in to mountain biking (not that there are many mountains in Norfolk – one of the flattest parts of the UK!) and also just putting on the boots and walking. I just get the headphones on, pack a backpack and head on out! I find the walking is superb for clearing the head, plus listening to lots of music that way can help you find ideas that prompt a new song, verse or chorus. And, it keeps you fit too, an added bonus!
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
I played at a local gig for a friend…just a couple of tracks…then was just left to my own devices. I didn’t really know anyone so just sat at a table on my own with a soft drink as I was driving. There is nothing worse than sitting in a room full of people you don’t know that aren’t really interested in talking to you. It didn’t upset me…..just wasted a whole evening as I was on first. I prefer being with friends and family, kindred spirits who I can relate to over a bottle of wine. The conversation tends to be better….a lot less one-sided!
Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
I do get nervous but not as much as I used to. I just keep busy…..tune my guitar a couple of times….make sure I have a glass of water for on stage (yep, just water!). Luckily, my day job requires me to present training courses to large groups of delegates so being public facing is not too much of an issue for me.
What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?
As I said above, I train groups of people on a particular piece of computer software. I won’t bore you with the details.
Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
To be a full time working musician would be the perfect job for me. If only!
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet, but I have signed up to a website that licences your music that way. I sure hope it happens!
Is composing for film & tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
I think it would be extremely interesting and if the opportunity came along, I would love to do it.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It is so appreciated!I’d just like to say that my EP – Angel & Other Stories – is available at www.reverbnation.com/shauncbryant. It would be fantastic if anyone reading this would go out and buy it. I am real proud of it and trust me, there is more where that came from!