At Sweetwater '98By: Randy Cohen
Q: How did your singing have the sound of the blues?
Shana: Well I listened to a lot of blues music when I was younger, like Etta James and Nina Simone's music, so I picked it up. I like to add that my CD collection is half-blues and half-Irish music.
Q: Do you like co-writing?
Shana: I do like to co-write. I've written very few songs on my own . Usually if I have a song, I feel that if I write with this person, I can make it better.
Q: Has your music evolved where you want it to be?
Shana: Productionwise no. We didn't have a producer on this record. It was fly by the seat of your pants and see what comes out. I would like get better production for the next CD. Whether we hire someone, or find someone to produce it, or do it ourselves again. I am hoping the quality of the recording will get better.
Q: What other albums are available?
Shana: The "Moondance" soundtrack. I have a couple of songs on there.
Q: Do I hear a little country in your music?
Shana: I started off in an Irish band and to me, Irish music is very similar to country music. I think that's where that's coming from. I didn't listen to a whole lot of country music. I like the real country singers like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline and things like that. I don't listen to country radio or anything. It must be from the Irish part, because I find with Irish singers, it's in the background.
Q: Are these songs you sing, based on true experiences?
Shana: Most of them are. They either happened to me or to my friends.
Q: Being the daughter of a famous musician (Van Morrison), could have advanced you further.
Why are you not using his influence?
Shana: I don't know if it could have worked for you, or worked against you. So, I decided to do it on my own. But, I felt that I had something I could build on my own. I didn't want anyone else to get involved. That's why I did it.
Q: Do you like playing in small clubs?
Shana: Yes. I love this place "Sweetwater". It's my favorite. I just like to know that there are people there and see them.
Q: Do you find the Bay Area a good musical haven?
Shana: There is a good musical community here. It's kind of a place where everyone helps each other and supports each other. Like in L.A., everyone is in competition and nobody helps each other. So, I like that there are places to play to go hear music.
Q: Who else have you worked with?
Shana: I did some work with Brian Kennedy and he actually signed me on the move "Moondance" soundtrack. At the time we did a cut for the tribute to Van Morrison's records called "No Prima Donna" and we're singing a Van song called "No Irish Heartbeat". He and I both sang with my Dad. I also sang on the last Roy Rogers album "Pleasure and Pain".
Q: What was it like to play in Ireland?
Shana: It was great. When I played with my Dad, they are in really big halls, and also small venues. We did some real nice stuff. Because everyone loves him, there is no division on that issue and it was an experience.
Q: Would you change if some big record company gobbled you up?
Shana: I'm trying not to. I definitely turned down record contracts for the reason that I want to make music my way. I don't want producers to say "we pick the tracks, we pick the songs, we pick producers". Then it's not really my music, you know? That's what they do to a lot of people.
Q: What do you think of music videos?
Shana: I like them. I see some artistic things. I think it's nice to put pictures to music.
Q: Would you like to do on?
Shana: I don't know if I would do one myself. I like movies and videos and stuff. I have hard time thinking - yeah, a good idea to sped a half a million dollars on a 5 minute video. It seems like buying into it too much.
Q: Have you ever thought about doing hard rock?
Shana: Yeah. Once in a while, I will do a hard rock song. We have been known to do Janis Joplin's song "Get It While You Can". We have a couple of songs that cross over to rock. I try not to let it go too far, because these guys with their electric guitars, they'll just get carried away.
Q: What places have you played at?
Shana: We played the East Coast, New England, New York, and Chicago. In March, Seattle and Oregon also.
Q: Do you change the style of your music on purpose?
Shana: Record labels try to make you put one style of music on your recording. When we play for people in clubs, we play all kinds of music. If it sounds the same all night, I think you know they like to be surprised and I like to make them think - "0h my God, what's she going to surprise us with next". I like that. It's fun. That's what I'm going to do on my next record also.
Q: Did you start off playing traditional Irish music?
Shana: Yeah. When I was first starting out, I played with my Dad. Then I came here and was writing songs and trying to write enough songs to fill a night to start out my own band. In the meantime, I was playing in an Irish band. Irish songs were the first songs that I learned. I had a theory that the more you sing, the better you get.
Q: What's in store in the future musically?
Shana: We're going to just make CD's hopefully and play more places. We played all over the country, but just small clubs. We just signed on with a distribution all over the country to push our new CD "Caledonia". Hopefully that will pick it up a little more.