Sparking Creativity: Indie Rocker After AvalanchePosted: September 28, 2012
As the latest in the continuing Sparking Creativity series, I’m pleased to present an exclusive interview with one of my oldest friends. Shawn (aka Shawnothan, Shawnzabar, Shang Pav, and After Avalanche) and I grew up together in the coastal hills of western Oregon. His formidable musical talents are becoming increasingly appreciated in Portland’s indie scene. Today, Shawn shares about non-musical inspiration, the pros and cons of the internet for musicians, and what happens when a song… isn’t happening. You can find Shawn on Facebook, Twitter, and various other online spaces. Be sure to download his recent Symptoms EP from Noisetrade, and leave him a tip.
Paul: What’s it like to be a musician in the Day of the Internet? What are the boons or challenges in relation to online distribution or promotion?
I have definitely discovered tricks to engaging a wider audience online. Noisetrade has to be my favorite. Without them, I would not have the fan base I have today, and it continues to grow because of that site. For other musicians out there, Tunecore is the definitive place to release an album online for sale and streaming services both.
Big picture now. What drives you to create?
Sometimes its boredom. Sometimes it’s pain. Other times its just from excitement or whims of inspiration. I can’t go a day without doing something creative. Rather than talk about the emotions I am feeling in any given situation, I like to grab hold of the most prominent illuminating thought and turn it into a song or some other work of art. It isn’t always something worth sharing with the world, but it’s a way of life for me. Much like some people keep a journal, or a twitter account…
My passion for making music is the same passion I have for any artistic pursuit I put myself into. Music is definitely my main thing, but its the fact that I am an artist that makes me the way I am. I define an artist as someone who sees order in chaos and meaning in confusion and then attempts to recreate an interpretation of that meaning for others to also see/hear. I see music as a way of creating a mental picture with more detail and layers than one could paint for the eyes to see.To me, art is a way of exploring the universe in a deeper sense than science or history. It’s a whole different level but just as beneficial to mankind in a more spiritual way. My passion comes from this worldview. Making music is what I am most passionate about, and the energy I put into my music just comes naturally to me. I’m looking to share my passion in a way that other people can feel things relevant to themselves when they hear my music.
How do you know when a tune is finished?
That varies from song to song. Sometimes I sit down under a sudden wave of inspiration and write an entire song within a short time frame and it just works. In those cases, it almost doesn’t even feel like I wrote the song… it just sort of happened spontaneously! Other times I just keep writing and messing around with the melody and lyrics until something just sort of clicks. It’s not something I can easily explain. But I have a general rule of never fully closing the creative book on any song. Anything I write is always up for re-interpretation or a re-imagining. Anyone that follows my music on Soundcloud probably knows I have an obsession with releasing a song in different styles, tempos, etc
Well, I suppose am both! It is hard for me to do one without the other. I write words and instantly want to put them to music. I have a melody I want to sing and before I know it I am finding words to fit it. The writing portion is the creativity, the singing is the expression of that creativity.
I am very influenced by visual art and nature. If it makes any sense, I almost hear music when I am out in nature somewhere far enough away from civilization. Also, I have a thing for long road trips. Sitting in a car for hours on end gives way to a lot of creative thought. I also find much inspiration in great storytelling… particularly conveyed in independent and foreign films. Anything that makes me think or question things eventually gives weigh to writing something. I am a huge fan of the book of Ecclesiastes for that reason. I get a lot of good thoughts from the Dalai Lama too.
What is your dream project?