There’s nothing I like more than a musician who really succeeds at trying something new. Shaun Barrowes is not only an accomplished pianist and singer, but has managed to conjure up a perfect blend of old jazz and modern alternative music. Skeptical? You can find links to his music at the bottom of this interview, and then you can be not faithless, but believing. Shaun is in the middle of a European tour, and still made the time to answer a few of our questions. In this interview, he tells us about his influences as an artist, his relationship to his fans, and his latest release, Emotion Constellation.
You’re currently in the middle of a European Tour. How has it been?
A: We’re two weeks in. So far, we’ve only visited Italy and Ireland. Italy was very successful for us–we’ll be returning for a more extensive Italian tour soon. Ireland responded well, but wasn’t quite as promising as Italy. However, we definitely show big potential in both countries and hopefully we’ll see the same potential in the UK, France, Germany and Finland.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about your music is how comfortable you seem to be in so many genres. Do you agree? How would you classify your music?
A: Yeah, I do agree. I enjoy bridging the divide between jazz/blues and alternative/rock. I’ve tried creating my own genre; at the moment I call it, “Prism and Soul”. My music is very colorful and varies like the prismatic shapes created by the different prisms. Combine that with the soulfulness that comes from my passion for music and you have a fair description of my style.
Tell us about how you got started in music.
A: When I was 15, my piano teacher noticed I was losing my excitement towards classical music. He challenged me to write something of my own and return the next week with my own composition. I accepted the challenge and as soon as I began to carve my own musical shapes, a switch inside me flipped on. I suddenly found a therapeutic outlet for all the feelings I didn’t really know how to express. I discovered my natural catharsis and haven’t turned back since.
How did you get the nickname “Hammer Hands”?
A: I performed with some friends of mine on BYU campus. During one of those songs, I really started pounding the keys with reckless abandon. A group of people from the audience came up to me after the and used the term “hammer hands” when they described my playing. It’s stuck with me ever since.
Tell us about your latest release, Emotion Constellation. How has it been received?
A: It’s too early to tell. Even though we’ve released it, we haven’t begun to really push it. We have a marketing campaign that should begin in May. So we’ll see how people respond to it, then.
How is Emotion Constellation different than your previous releases?
A: This one is a little deeper. Not quite so light-hearted as Big Bang Theory. With Emotion Constellation, I delved into cinematic territory, exploring more specific situations and how they would translate into a musical language people could identify with. This album also leaves the jazzy terrain from my previous efforts and explores more alternative genres.
Your first album was a religious album of hymns, and you mentioned that you released it because you wanted people to know of your religious convictions and beliefs. How has your faith influenced the music you’ve done afterward?
A: My faith has a lot to do with who I am as a person, and what I write about in my music is a window to my soul. Since faith is such a big part of me, you’ll likely notice some faith based concepts in my compositions.
You mention on your MySpace that you really care to get to know your fans personally. Why is that?
A: I’m not pushing my music career just so I can have the masses come to my shows and consider me some sort of celebrity. So many artists are all about the fame and not about the fans. Music is all about inspiring people. It’s so much easier to inspire people you actually know and care about. It’s impossible to know everyone who likes my music, but I still enjoy meeting them after my shows, and I enjoy reading their emails.
Do you have any shows planned once you get back to the United States?
A: I’ve got some tentative dates, but nothing solid, yet. We’re trying to put together an extensive US tour starting in October. Until then, I’ll be working on an international dance competition I’m organizing around the release of Emotion Constellation, as well as a few individual shows around the country. The tour we’re putting together is a High School tour, and it’s geared towards raising money for high school music and arts programs. These programs are seeing major budget cuts, and we’re trying to put something together to help them raise money in a fun and involving way. To read more about it and to get involved, you can visit: www.live4musictour.com. The dance competition I’m organizing is geared towards marketing my new album while providing dancers from around the world with an incredible opportunity. For more info on that, you can visit: www.hammerhandsdance.com.
Where can interested readers find out more about you or your music?
A: They can find me on Facebook, and they can check my website, www.shaunbarrowes.com.