Monday, July 30, 2012

Joy Shannon - eagerly await her latest release!

Interview by Chris Koppers, photographs courtesy of Joy Shannon

Multi-talented Joy Shannon comes along with her band the Beauty Marks and they are the Celtic folk rock band from Long Beach, CA.

Joy invites us to learn more about her world of music.
This interview reveals her magic and it takes you hostage for a land full of  her smoldering tunes and her prodigious vocals.

--- Interview ---

It seems your songs grant space for your experiments with various influences. How do find the proper dose without losing your own style?

Magic! In many ways, I still believe music is magic when it all comes together. I am not exactly sure how I found my style, it feels like I opened my mouth and this style came out. I hear everything in my mind long before it is realized. I am continually striving to create an album that captures what my imagination has dreamed up. Over the years I have also tended to mostly listen to music styles that are very different from my own (like everything from old gospel to metal). I am not sure if they influence me, but may be they find their way in. I have an early memory of me as a 12 or 13 year-old kid- before I was writing music myself- trying to find music I liked. I was hearing a type of music I wanted to hear in my mind that I was not finding anywhere. I slowly realized the music I was hearing didn't quite exist and I had to make it.

After I decided as a teenager to devote myself to writing music, I was very stubborn- which I laugh at now- but I respect how it made me develop. I remember being surrounded by singer/songwriter girls who were writing songs and singing just like the popular women making music at the time (like Tori Amos, Sarah MacLachlan, or Ani DiFranco). I always thought to myself "I wonder what that girl's voice really would sound like if she wasn't trying to sound exactly like Tori Amos?" I remember feeling vulnerable at that time when I was developing my songwriting style, so I decided not to listen to any current artists and especially not many female vocalists. I wanted my voice and my songwriting to be uniquely my own- instead of being influenced by trends. I wanted to be true to myself and let my style naturally emerge as it was supposed to, rather than trying to be someone I am not. I didn't even play any covers until the last 2 years, because I really want to focus on my own compositions.

What is your current project with the Beauty Marks?

I am currently recording my next album. I have an interesting group of songs unlike anything I have ever written. I can't say too much about it because the album feels very vulnerable and new. But it is continually surprising me and teaching me a lot! I am pushing my songwriting, vocals, harp, and cello playing to new levels with this new album.

What is your favorite instrument that expresses your emotions best?

My voice. My voice is what was hardest for me to share with others because it is so close to my heart. I had the biggest stage fright about singing in my early days of performing, but I always knew that I was supposed to share my voice with others because it was my truth. Second to my voice, I truly love to play my harp and cello. Yet, those instruments always inspire me to sing along, so it always goes back to singing for me.

Where will you see yourself in 2013?

I will certainly put out my next album by then and be performing as usual. I always want to go on a tour of the European countries that I have gotten the most support of my music in… may be 2013 will be the year I can finally do that?!

Who is the most supportive person in your life?

I am surrounded by a circle of the most amazing family of friends. I no longer speak to my immediate blood family, so my friends are everything to me. I have a hugely supportive group of musicians, artists, and producers I have worked with over the years. Truly, I am here doing what I love, because so many friends loved and believed in me over the years. It might sound strange, but beyond all of my supportive friends, I have the most supportive dog. I have a service dog for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder who comes with me everywhere I go. She has taught me much about self-love, non-judgement and sharing my heart with others. She is happy everywhere she goes, in situations I normally get overwhelmed in, like densely populated city centers or groups of strangers. She makes friends everywhere she goes, which helps teach me to be more outgoing!

Music – made in Ireland – is still not that omnipresent on international stages, except for U2 – How can Irish-made music styles thrive and prosper on these stages?

Really? Isn't everyone part Irish? I could go all Big Fat Irish Wedding on you… Give me a song, any song and I will prove how the root of it is Irish…

I am proud to be Irish but I don't tend to play traditional Irish music. I feel an intense bond with my Irish culture, but I have grown up mostly in the United States, influenced by so many cultures. I feel like music unites the world in a way that cultural backgrounds can peacefully and melodically come together. Whatever cultural influences we have as musicians, we bring those to our music like gifts from our people who came before us, and they all evolve together in amazing ways. Interestingly, whenever my confidence falters a bit, I think of my Irish ancestors and it helps me get my strength back.

I know that good songs- songs made from the heart and soul about human truths- will always prevail over superficial pop trends. No matter what culture the songwriter is from who is writing the good song, I feel like humanity across the globe will listen with their hearts. Irish people have historically written some amazing, heartfelt and truthful songs. Through all the suffering they have been through as a culture, the Irish have made beautiful art. I am continually inspired by this- turning whatever you have experienced- the good, bad, and the ugly, into joyous things of meaningful, truthful beauty by making it into art. That's the basis for my band's name: turning scars into "beauty marks" by writing beautiful music from any struggles I have experienced.

Do you believe today’s music world makes it easier to spread the word about your music?

Yes and no. With every change in technology and industry trends, there is an upside and downside. Because of the internet, I have been able to collaborate with bands like the Offering in the UK without ever meeting them face to face. That's something I never dreamed of being possible! My music has also been listened to by people all over the world in countries I would never have thought of promoting myself. That's also magical to me. Yet, because of the fact that I am promoting my music myself, along with so many other bands, I feel like it might be slower going to find my right fans.

What do you miss in today’s music industry?

I miss that kids growing up today do not have the glorious experience I used to have as a kid when I would buy albums. I would save up my money and do careful research about what album to buy. I would then be all excited to buy it and take it home like it was a new puppy. I'd sit on the floor in front of my record player or cd player and unwrap the album, put it on, and then pour over the album art and lyrics as the album played. It was such a beautiful ritual- especially when I was discovering what would become one of my favourite albums for the first time. I still listen to albums all the way through and I love concept albums.

What is your main motivation to perform your music?

It's twofold. Frankly, because of my family background of neglect and abuse, music was an absolute necessity for me, especially as an outlet as a teenager when I had so much to say and no one to say it to. Eventually as I grew and healed from what I came from, music has become my life's purpose. Music has always been the thing that has given me courage to face any of my fears and struggles. It is my deepest hope that my music sends smoke signals out to other kids or adults who have struggled with some of the same things I did.

I hope that my music can help others know they are not alone with their struggles and triumphs in this world, even if it feels that way sometimes.

Thank you for the interview, Joy.

Please visit her webpages for more information:


Clara E. said...

Wow, this is top notch. I gotta visit your blogzine more often.

You are the real deal, Chris.


Anonymous said...

Love Joy's Music.

Thank you soooooo much for sharing, Chris.

I wait for more.

Jacqui Taylor said...

Joy Shannon is very talented and I am very honoured to have had the chance to work with her! Love and best wishes Joy:)

Erika Smith said...

Hi Chris,

I love your blog. It is so refreshing. You put true heart into this.


Timmy M. said...

Wow. That was my first impression of your blogzine.

One of your followers.

Anonymous said...

Love it, cannot get enough!


Anonymous said...

Love it, cannot get enough!


Anonymous said...


I have keeping an eye on blogzine for a while.