Christmas Angel Telethon is an event that we help with all year round and we enjoy staying in touch with the artists that we meet during this amazing 24-hour FUNdraising event to benefit The Salvation Army‘s Christmas Angel Community Center. One artist we were excited to meet was Shane Simonsen.
Northwest based singer-songwriter, Shane Simonsen, was selected as a finalist in CMT’s Music City Madness competition in 2007. He released the studio EP “Summer Dreams Away” along with a collection of bedroom recordings titled “The Well” in late 2009. His songs have been featured on the benefit albums; “Rock Rwanda” in 2008 and “Music For Libya” in 2011.
Simonsen is in the final stages of his newest release, which experiments with midi, acoustic and voice; reaching for an organic middle ground. With this approach he showcases a series of songs that touch on such themes as commercialism, mockery and faith.
When asked, Karen said her favorite thing about Shane is that he is very clear. She loves that you can understand every word. Summer said she really enjoyed that he pours out his passion and faith in his music.
We are proud to feature Shane Simonsen for this week’s Exclaiming Musicians. We hope you look him up and hire him for your next event or buy his music. You will always be impressed with his art.
…Now for the interview…
When did you start writing music?
I remember as a child making thunderous runs on the piano, which equated to me simply running my knuckles up and down the keyboard. I do know that i was very clearly “creating” a thunderous sound and loving it. I remember another time going into the guest room of our home and writing verses and choruses, not having a clue as to what i was doing. i kind of made that room my creative space. it wasn’t until i was about sixteen, and with my first guitar, started officially writing songs, some of which i still sing today.
Do you have a process for writing music: some people need to go to the beach or even the Laundromat. What inspires you?
I think life inspires me. In an immediate way, it’s the day to day stuff around me. In an eternal way, I believe God is working things out in me and though me. Ultimately I try and put all of my writing up against the test of Scripture and who i believe God has shown himself to be. I’ve had seasons of writing a lot of music, and seasons of writing no music. This used to concern me, but i truly believe that it’s supposed to be that way–it seems natural that we have seasons of growth, fruitfulness, harvest and death, all to start over again; much like the seasons of the year. I’ve come to realize that a lot of my writing comes after a period of processing things. It’s hard for me to sit down and say “I’m going to write about this thing.” At times I can encourage the writing process, but what comes of it is something completely different than what I might have intended.
Do prefer playing solo or playing with others?
Solo works for me because its hard to pay folks what their worth and most of the folks I do play with are incredibly busy in their own right. I’d love to play with a band, but it just hasn’t worked out. Being solo gives me a lot of freedom creatively and time to do things beyond music.
How many benefit concerts have you done?
I really can’t say, but it’s a lot. I enjoy raising money and awareness for causes that I believe in.
Tell us about “Rock Rwanda.” What did that mean to you since it was a benefit album?
Rock Rwanda, from an artists perspective, was great. I met a lot of great people through that project and have been following Africa New Life Ministries and some of the artists since. You should really check out Enric Sifa. He lives in Portland now and has a pretty amazing story. What did it mean to me? I’d say it was an honor to be considered for the project, and humbling to a part of it. It’s also a bit of reality check to be a part of something like that. You realize that you aren’t just playing music, but you are part of a movement that is bigger than our individual efforts. I think whenever you mix entertainment and charity, there is always that question of “why are people doing this?” All the artists I met during the concert seemed to be right on track with what the project was about, which was very cool in my mind.
When you’ve done acoustic music, has it been more meaningful to you than wired performances?
Not really. It all has meaning and purpose–hopefully. Whether playing an acoustic around the campfire or an electric guitar on stage, i think there is always the potential for true beauty to take root or vain ambition to wreck the whole thing.
Is all of your music is faith-based?
I’d say it all comes from a faith based perspective. How people interpret it can be a different thing all together. I try to seek truth in the writing, and avoid cliche or simply saying something because it sounds nice and might get a smile or a head nod.
What other artistic mediums do you practice?
Prose, music and motion picture are the main mediums that I’m focusing on right now. There are many others that I’d love to pursue, such as woodworking or painting. If sailing and cooking are artistic mediums then you could add those to the list.
We are big on personal relationships. Who are your biggest inspirations for what you do whether they are other artists, or personal friends and family?
So many inspirational people. I can’t pick just one or ten even. Pretty much if you are in my life, you have inspired me.
Do you get nervous when you perform live and if so, how do you handle that touch of stage fright?
Sometimes I do get nervous, which kind of surprises me when it happens, because I can’t really trace it to anything… so I pray and I recognize the distractions in the room. I might try and process why I am nervous, but focusing on the purpose of the performance seems to work better, and is necessary wether I can process the reasons for stage fright or not
How can people get a taste of your music or reach you to schedule you at their venue?
People can best reach me, or listen to some music on Facebook right now. I have some albums available on iTunes and Noisetrade.com. I am all for offering free copies of my music. Noisetrade.com is a great way for me to do that, and folks can leave tips there if they like.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate what you all are doing in Longview. I have a lot of hope for the Northwest and appreciate any beneficial efforts in developing our communities. Working on the Christmas Angel Telethon was an encouragement and excited me to see folks making efforts like that. I wish you all the best with your endeavors. I pray that God be known throughout your community for who He is, in a beautiful time honored way.