Rapidly climbing atop of the Australian pop scene, Melbourne newcomer Shannen James and her charming, uplifting brand of alt-pop have seen her championed by everyone from Triple J to Spotify and Apple Music.
Following the release of her glistening latest single 'Superstitious', we sent Shannen some questions to learn all about her life in Oz and how she's managed to maintain her creative streak through Zoom calls.
Hi! How are you doing?
I’m doing great thank you. Hope all is getting better for you in the UK. Just sitting in Sydney airport writing this. Just about to do a week of songwriting and play a gig which is super exciting!
You’re based in Melbourne, right? How’s life over there?
That’s right! Melbourne born and bred. Life is pretty good here at the moment. It’s Autumn here and just a really lovely time of year IMO. We are super lucky where we are that things have opened up over the last few months and starting feel like back to normal.
Was a career in music always on the cards for you, or did you have different goals when you were a kid?
For sure, I had always wanted to be a performer ever since I was little. Always singing and dancing and being the annoying cousin making everyone sit down and be my audience whilst I most likely was doing my best Britney impression haha.
Your music has a very addictive, yet almost lo-fi pop feel to it. Do you think anyone specific encouraged you down that route or is it more just what you’re into?
It honestly just happened super naturally. I used to play in pubs and bars singing acoustic covers and at that time was writing very folk singer-songwriter type songs. So I’m a sense I have always leaned towards organic natural sounds. I took a real interest in drum sounds and beats when I was in Uni studying Music Industry (not that I play drums or make beats myself) but there was something really driving and energetic about them and I really wanted to start making music that felt that way. So once I started playing around with drum grooves a little more instead of just picking up the guitar to write, my music really took a leap forward into a more upbeat/pop vibe pretty quickly. But I definitely love mixing modern textures and sounds with organic lo-fi instrumentation to create a familiar yet contemporary blend.
Tell us a bit about your musical career so far - what’s been your most exciting achievement?
Feels like I’ve been making music forever so it’s been a journey that’s for sure, but things have really ramped up over the last couple years which has been great and I have got to do some pretty cool things! I remember even 2 years ago my brother and I were saying how cool it would be to even get playing on Triple J once and then once I released my first single Something In The Water it got played quite a bit and each other single since then, so that’s still really amazing to me and I just live that my music is connecting with people and a bigger audience. Just a couple things recently that have been incredible we’re getting to play at the Royal Arcade in Melbourne for the music program called The Sound, being on the SXSW line up and selling out two shows at my fav venue Northcote Social Club to happen May 1. Gonna be a good time!
You’ve been writing and recording your music over Zoom due to the world’s current circumstances, do you think that process has resulted in any differentiation in your songs?
Writing music with people in general can be awkward initially, never mind being on a computer and losing internet connection every few minutes haha. But I absolutely am so thankful that there was a way for us to keep working and creating. I think it taught me that you can make great things out of a bad/limited situation and still come away with something your super proud of. Superstitious in particular was born out of feeling really bored and annoyed and wanting to make something that was fun! So not sure that song would have happened if it wasn’t for everything that happened last year.
You’re no stranger to a joyous music video - if you could have anyone star in your next one, who would it be?
Probably Shania Twain. In my eyes she is a total music video queen (and all round music queen for that matter) but I just think it would be the best time ever and really I just want to be her friend.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2021? Any news on the way?
I’m currently on my tour in Australia so I have shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide which I cannot wait for. Then some more music coming your way for the rest of the year! Got a couple singles up my sleeve which I’m so keen to release. So stay tuned. :)"