WW: Hey Shanna, welcome to WildWritings.com! How
SZ: Very happy and mellow at the moment.
WW: Tell us about your childhood. Did music always play an important role in
SZ: Yes, music has definitely always played an
important role in my life. My dad is very musical and my
mom was a dancer, so rhythm and an appreciation of
sound came naturally. I started playing piano when I
was 5, quit around 13, picked up the bassoon at 11
(I know, very random, but actually a cool instrument),
quit that when I was 12, picked up the guitar at 16 and
haven't put it down yet. I also danced for ten years as a
kid and was a devoted Michael Jackson fan by the age
WW: When did you know you wanted to become a
SZ: Probably around 2 when my parents would
repeatedly play WHAM's "Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go"
and I would wake up the next day saying, "Go Go,
Mommy, Go Go!" I've always been in love with music and with the stage – I feel most at home behind a microphone. Singing seemed like an obvious choice of career for me.
WW: Who were your musical influences while growing up?
SZ: Well, I've mentioned two main influences already, but I was also a big Beach Boys fan. Pet Sounds was probably my favorite album when I was in elementary school. As I got older I expanded my repertoire and by the age of 12 I found myself in love with musicians such as Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and Radiohead. Now, significantly later in life, I seek inspiration through bands/musicians like The Decemberists, Leslie Feist, Bjork, Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine and plenty of local musicians in the New York City music scene - just to name a few…
WW: When did you write your first song? What was it about?
SZ: I wrote my first song at the age of 6. It was a simple two-chord progression on the piano with some very bizarre lyrics for a 6 year old to be writing.
WW: Where do you draw the inspiration from to create music?
SZ: I find that inspiration can be found anywhere. Once, I was inspired by a doorway. Another time I was hungry, so it led to a song. I wrote a song called "Losing Monopoly" that is my main political piece, but really reflects the board game. Breakups, heartaches and love always serve as prime inspiration, but so do most life experiences. Politics play an influence. History plays a role; hence the song I wrote and played during the 2000 March of the Living, My Shoes. Stories are crucial to my music. Seriously, if the mood strikes me I could write a song about anything.
WW: Your new album, Hurricane Season, is receiving rave reviews! Tell us about it.
SZ: Hurricane Season was released in November 2005. Performing on it is an all-star cast including drummer Matt Walker ( Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, Garbage), bassist Alan Berliant (Rachel Yamagata, Mavis Staples) and guitarist Bill Ruppert (Beach Boys, Tony Bennett). My producer and engineer-extraordinaire, Jon Seiller, has worked with a huge range of superstar artists ( Kaiser Chiefs, Jewel, Lisa Loeb). The collaboration of such talent helped turn my little acoustic ditties into dynamic rock songs. Two of the tracks have consistently been in the top 50 most requested songs on www.bandradiolive.com, "The Flatlands" is being featured in the indie film Dykeotomies, and I was recently voted as a Gem on Radio Crystal Blue, receiving exclusive airplay and focus on my music. It's all been very exciting!
WW: What are your plans for the future; will you be touring?
SZ: I just got back from LA, and I am hoping to start gigging more around local east coast cities. Definitely check www.shannazell.com for tour dates. I've also been invited to showcase at the 2006 Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati, OH and I will be playing for a bunch of teenagers in Cherry Hill, NJ on November 7 th, 2006.
WW: You became involved in the industry as a teenager. What has been the most valuable lesson learned so far?
SZ: Keep your skin thick, let it roll off your back and just keep moving. There is always room for improvement, but stay confident in your work and smile. A smile can charm anything and anyone.
WW: Thanks Shanna! Best of luck to you.
SZ: Thank you very much for this opportunity!