Special Interview: Helen Shanahan

theaussieword.com interview with Helen Shanahan.

What can you tell our readers about you? How and where did it all begin?
I am a 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Perth, WA. It all began for me in high school when I would write my own songs in the privacy of my bedroom. I didn’t really perform publicly for anyone until I was half way through an arts degree that I didn’t like at all – I guess it propelled me to follow my passion for music. I then did my first open mic night at a bar called Mojos in Fremantle, and never looked back!

What had you first interested in music?
I was first interested in music in primary school when I started guitar lessons. I come from a musical family, so there was always music being played from all sorts of genres (although my Dad did really like 70’s music much to my disdain!!).
Who motivates or influences your quest to make great music?
My motivation comes from my love of music and my desire to create the same way my favourite artists have done. My Songwriting heroes such as Joni Mitchell and Missy Higgins influence me, however local artists that play around Perth and Australia also inspire me to keep writing and performing!
Do you have any planned tours coming up?
I do have a tour coming up this July! I am playing a local gig at Mojos Bar in Fremantle on July 9th, and then heading to Sydney for July 14th at The Newsagency, then to Melbourne at the Spotted Mallard for July 17th.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
My main goal is to try and be a recognised singer/songwriter in Australia. My influences are Missy Higgins and Clare Bowditch, and I admire how they have worked hard and have a loyal following. My goal would also be to support some of my favourite artists, or artists of a similar genre.
What can fans expect from you in the coming months?
In the coming months I will be working hard to promote my latest EP ‘Finding Gold’. It is being released on July 3rd, so I will be playing lots of gigs to help promote this and get the new music heard.
Success, what is the secret to it and what has been your biggest career highlight so far?
I think the secret to success, is to keep working hard and act with kindness and a positive attitude! I think the biggest career highlight for me was winning the Telstra Road to Discovery Songwriting category in 2013, and subsequently being signed to Mushroom Music Publishing in 2015.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
There are many artists that I find inspiring, one of them in particular is Clare Bowditch. I was lucky enough to sing a duet on stage with her in 2013, and she was so lovely to give her fans the opportunity to join her on stage. She has a business called ‘The Big Hearted Business’, which helps creative people learn about the business side of things. She is always giving back, and always encourages people to follow their passion and creative pursuits. I also find UK artist Passenger incredibly inspiring, as he worked so far to get where he is- which just goes to show perseverance and hard work can pay off!
How would you best describe you and your music to your fans?
I would describe my music as contemporary folk/pop with a strong acoustic feel. My songs ride the joys and sorrows of love and life and draw the listener into an articulate and heartfelt world of story, melody and guitar.
What can you tell us about your latest album?
My latest EP is a culmination of songs I wrote in 2014, and recorded with Melbourne based producer Pip Norman. My band and I flew to Melbourne in September last year to work with Pip, and it was great to work with someone so creative- he really breathed new life into the songs. I was also lucky enough to travel to Nashville during the recording process, and one of the songs on the EP “Love Lost” was produced and recorded by some incredible Nashville musicians. I also did some co-writing in Nashville with Kim Richey (Grammy nominated US singer/songwriter)  and she wrote the title track “Finding Gold” with me.
Are there any new exciting projects in the works?
At the moment I am just starting to get back into writing again for my next recording, while promoting my new EP coming out on July 3rd.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
Hopefully still writing and recording and performing for audiences around Australia!
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
I love Missy Higgins, Clare Bowditch, Paul Kelly, Meg Mac, Mia Wray, Sia
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I think that although there are a lot of challenges in getting your music heard, social media is definitely a great tool in getting your music heard and getting your records out to the public eye. Social media makes everything so accessible, and it’s easy to let people know about upcoming gigs and releases. I think that the music industry as a whole can be a frightening thing, but you just have to stay true to you and keep persevering as otherwise it’s easy to give up with everything that’s out there.

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