Shenandoah Davis on tour life, her new LP and house parties

"My brain just sort of filters through the relationships that I have with people and I just end up with these little kind of pinprick memories," Davis responding on her eloquence as a lyricist.

Shenandoah Davis discusses her new LP, Souvenirs, house parties and tour life with DJ Dénouement.

Tracks played during episode:

Oh Way Oh – Shenandoah Davis – The Company We Keep

Shenandoah Davis – Gold Coast – Souvenirs

Shenandoah Davis – The Wings – Souvenirs

Shenandoah Davis – East-Facing Window – Souvenirs

Shenandoah Davis – Curtain Call- Souvenirs


Excerpt from Shenandoah Davis interview:

DJ Dénouement] That was Shenandoah Davis off of her new LP album The Company We Keep, Oh Way Oh.” I’m DJ Dénouement and today in Studio 313B at Met Radio the student voice of Metropolitan State University of Denver Colorado, We have the pleasure of having Shenandoah Davis in the studio with us. You are currently living in Seattle and you grew up in Boulder Colorado.

Shenandoah: I went to high school in Boulder. I went to college in Greeley to study opera performance and then was back in Boulder for a little while after that. You know as many people in Boulder are kind of not sure what I wanted to do with my life.

DJ Dénouement: Right and that’s a kind of a place for people to come and go come and go. Yeah absolutely. Tell me where your first house concert was.

Shenandoah: Well the first one, it’s not quite a house concert but one of the first shows I ever played was actually in Denver. I had already moved to Seattle but it was at this spot that no longer shows called the Brooks Center for the Arts and Spirituality. It was second show I had ever played but it just ended up even though I had moved to Seattle kind of re-introducing me to the Denver music community because the show was like I played in Cooke played Paper Bird played it was like 10 years.

DJ Dénouement: Speaking of which you did a house you performed with Laura Goldhammer the other day.

Shenandoah: Yeah we played we did a house show on Thursday night. And what was the attendance like for that. Oh my gosh it was packed. It was kind of crazy yeah.

DJ Dénouement:  You had a packed house on Friday. Yeah. Tell us about Mountain to Sound

Shenandoah: As a kind of music collective here in Denver and they book a lot of shows paying really special attention to making sure that the show is in the right environment for the artist and so they do a lot of house shows and shows and listening rooms and just try to really carefully curate not only the artists that are playing together but kind of the whole environment and ambient surrounding the show.

DJ Dénouement: Mountain to Sound was founded by Greg and Garrett Hilpipre you actually played a house concert for them many years ago?

Shenandoah: Yeah I met them at a house concert that I was playing one of their friends houses and you know that friend whose name was Kevin Riley but he had kind of started this house concert series called the back 40 was kind of before people who weren’t musicians throwing shows for their friends were doing house concerts and Greg and Garrett we were just talking on Friday about how Kevin series of house concerts kind of gave them the idea of kind of crafting these really intimate shows that are sometimes in houses sometimes in venues but just sort of wherever it makes the most sense. That’s something that you.

DJ Dénouement: You prefer a house concert environment. Tell our listeners why.

Shenandoah: When I started out playing shows, a lot of the shows were in bars and you drive from town to town and go from bar to a bar. When you’re 22, 23, 24 (years old) It sounds like it’s going to be pretty fun to just go and hang out at the bar for six hours. Maybe that’s what you would be doing anyway, if you are at home in some cases but I got a little bit older after, hanging out and a few thousand bars on tour. It’s not a great environment for people to really engage with you or listen to what you’re doing. And it’s not really a good environment for you as the artist to get to know any of the people who came to your show. And so when you’re just going from city to city and from bar to bar you kind of don’t get to experience any of the city or really get to know any of the people who came to the show and so they’re there and they’re drinking and you’re drinking and there’s music and then you know they leave and you leave.  Your whole experience of the city is just based on how much money you got paid by a bar and whether anyone paid attention to what you were doing or will ever listen to your music or even remember that they were there.

DJ Dénouement: What was it like to go to school and study opera?

Shenandoah: People ask me about that all the time and you know to this day I’m not I really enjoyed studying opera at the time you know. I mean I think it’s kind of ridiculous that people have to pick what they’re going to major in in college and then spend tens of thousands of dollars on it when they’re like 16 years old. That just seems like a kind of societal flaw. You know I was in Boulder I was going to high school I had been home schooled before that and so I got involved in choir and I really liked singing. All of a sudden and so it made sense to do something in school that I would like. And so I studied opera performance you know pretty quickly after I started school I realized that I don’t like I don’t like the way that my body feels when I’m singing opera music or classical music. I have a very loud classical music voice and I’ve made a big effort to feel comfortable in my body. For some reason when I am singing that loud and that much sound just being produced it just makes me kind of like throws me off a little bit. It makes me feel kind of uneasy.

DJ Dénouement: Let’s listen to Shenandoah Davis – Gold Coast – Souvenirs

DJ Dénouement: I think that “you know how to find the Northern Lights” is very beautiful but the part where “you know the Latin names for every tree” there are those relationships with all you know whether it’s your friend or partner or your parent, anybody. My hair stands up on my arms when I when I hear that just because when I think about relationships and the people that I care about there’s always something about someone that you can remember. You so eloquently capture that moment. Talk to us about this ability that you have to capture moments.

Shenandoah: In general would say that I don’t have the best memory in the general scheme of not having the best memory in terms of like where I was living in a certain year or the name of my best friend when I was five years or what my childhood phone number is. I do like somehow my brain just sort of filters through the relationships that I have with people and I just end up with these little kind of pinprick memories that I can you know like almost close my eyes and completely relive. You know I’m sure that my memory isn’t exactly right but,I was just thinking about it like I have this friend Nick who’s a musician and he lives in Portland and we just we played a show together in Northern California a few weeks ago. I’ve known him for about eight years. But I saw him and I remember it like the night before my birthday six years ago and we ran into each other in New York and we were walking through this alley and it started to snow. He asked me how much further I was to where were going and I was like I don’t like I don’t remember I don’t know how far it is. Like are you cold and he was just like no I’m having a nice time and that’s just like this weird, I saw him and I remember this like weird ten seconds of my life in a way where I almost just repeated it, so I you know for better or worse I have like this little kind of memory pockets where you know I might not be able to remember where or how I met someone eight years ago but I do remember like this really nice dinner that they made me. Or some weird town where we ran into each other while we’re both traveling.

DJ Dénouement: What does it look like for you if you’ve decided that you’re going to write. How does that happen.

Shenandoah: I usually can’t do an entire day. I get frustrated pretty quickly. But in general when I’m trying to write I wind up walking around a lot. I’ll maybe have a few ideas that I’ll record on the piano and then you know I’ll just record them on my phone and then kind of hit the hit the trail and throw some headphones in and just like either walk or jog around my neighborhood with the music looping on repeat and just try to kind of clear my head and not think about anything else.

DJ Dénouement: Tell us about your recording experiences.

Shenandoah: For souvenirs this last record I knew that I wanted to not do it at home like it didn’t want to do it in Seattle I wanted to just kind of have some distance in general from Seattle while I was recalculating what I wanted my life to be like. I didn’t want any of that kind of tension or stress to come into writing the songs for this record. So I went to Brooklyn and recorded it in a friend’s home studio that they had just been building out. I really like the way that the record came out and I like the way that it sounds. But the comment that I’ve been getting so often from people is that it sounds so big and it sounds grandiose and it sounds theatrical and that’s what I wanted it to sound like but the recording progress you know like there’s the first track the wings has these like loud booming like very reverby drums on it and quite a few friends of mine have asked ‘how did the engineer get that huge drum sound you know is that a is that a timpani, is that a marching band drum,’ and it was literally it was a five gallon tub of cock that someone had left in the room when they had moved out. Sam the guy who recorded the record was hitting the lid of this type of cork with a paint scraper and just like mic’d it really close. Turned the reverb up to seven hundred. It does sound like a giant marching band playing in a play a drum line in a cave or something. Let’s give it a listen. This this is “The Wings” off of souvenirs LP by Shenandoah Davis.


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