WHEN it comes to the solo stars performing in New York…
there are few that are as intriguing, eye-catching and vivacious as Shenna. Her current album, Made of Gold, features production from Austin Bello (singer with The Sickest Kids) and is already starting to get people talking and hooked. Since discovering a passion for music at a young age, Shenna has opened for En Vogue and is busy as a voice-over artist. It seems there are no limitations to her talent and scope, so with that in mind, I was eager to spend some time getting to know the stunning Shenna. She talks about her latest album and what it was like working with Austin Bello; plans for the coming month and a Georgia-based (U.S.) musician we should be checking out.
Hi Shenna. How are you? How has your week been?
I'm great Sam! Thank you so much for interviewing me!
For those new to your music: can you give us an introduction, please?
Of course! My name is Shenna and I am an unsigned Indie-Pop artist currently based in N.Y.C. I've been performing all over the U.S. and throughout Canada with my band The Dreamers - and have had my music and videos placed on MTV, VH1; AXS, CMT and The Bad Girls Club!
I am always fascinated by artists from New York. What is it like for a musician? How inspiring is the city and are there enough chances to perform and gig?
Yeah. New York is definitely the place to be for an aspiring artist.
I actually moved here two years ago from Virginia to have more opportunities for my music; it has definitely been a journey! I met all my bandmates here and all my friends are creatives. There are so many people from different countries and states here pursuing music but endless places to perform. If you really wanted to you could perform at an open mic. Every day!
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Made of Gold has just been released. What compelled you to write the album and what sort of themes/events influenced the songs?
I started writing Made of Gold shortly after I released my first project Dream in Color E.P. I honestly just felt that I was developing so much as an artist at that time and understand the music business in a whole new light - that a lot of the songs were influenced by my journey out here in N.Y.C. Every struggle like So Low; every funny character like Charlie Shut Up!; the music venue scene backstage when you feel glamourous (You Can't Sit With Us!) and even having to move away from my hometown to N.Y.C. (Echo).
Is there a particular song from the album that resonates hard? Any that has a particularly fond place in your heart?
The last song I wrote - So Low - resonates hard because as you grow as a person, and especially in your career field - a lot of people will try to help you make your decisions or even leave you in the dust. Sometimes you have to feel so low and go solo to rise to the top!
Austin Bello was a producer on the album. What was it like working with him?
Austin is awesome!
I must say the album isn't just about me transitioning as an artist: you can hear his style and versatility growing so much!
The first song we made off this project was actually Made of Gold and the last was So Low. His sounds and rhythmic choices are insane!
Image-wise, you certainly stand out from the crowd. Are there any designers/musicians that you look up to in that respect?
Thank you so much! I really love fashion and don't like to be stuck to just one style – even though I believe signatures are important. My red hair is definitely one of my signatures but I love how Rihanna always switches up her style as well as Zendaya! Top Shop and Zara are my favorite stores! I'm also a huge fan of vintage shopping in New York. That's where I find my most unique pieces!
You have performed in venues as diverse as Disney World and Webster Hall. Which has been the most memorable performance of 2016
I would say going back to my University in D.C. and performing at the Howard Theater with my band from N.Y.C. was such a great vibe! The venue was gorgeous, the sound crew was awesome and having so many familiar faces was amazing!
As part of the D.C. Pride Festival in 2015, you opened for En Vogue. Did you get to meet the girls and what was that experience like?
We didn't get to meet the girls but the overall experience was fun! We could see the monuments behind us as we performed.
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Since your debut album, 2014’s Dream in Color, you have experienced a lot and grown. What is the biggest different – sound and theme-wise – between Dream in Color and Made of Gold?
I think the difference sound-wise is (definitely) Dream in Color being more sweet to Made of Gold (being more in your face).
The theme of Dream in Color was to pay attention to the little details of life and the theme of Made of Gold was that no matter who you there is something that makes you strong and a champion – therefore, you are “made of gold"
Some of your songs have been featured on T.V. shows. Has that led to a lot of new fans coming in and do you think that is something new musicians should think about – help to get their music to a wider audience?
Thanks to apps. like Shazam and YouTube I have gained more supporters - who heard my music on the T.V. episodes. It's always a great feeling and I think artists should definitely tap into the commercial licensing lane!
You are quoted as saying: "I WENT TO THE VINTAGE STORE AT THE AGE OF 7 AND BOUGHT A RECORD PLAYER AND VINYLS WITH MY ALLOWANCE MONEY. I WOULD RUN TO MY ROOM FOR HOURS AND STUDY MJ AND DIANA ROSS WHILE THE KIDS PLAYED OUTSIDE" Are those artists still influencing your work? Which current acts are you particularly struck by?
Thanks for reading that quote! Yes. Definitely, I would say more there work ethic and longevity in the music industry for sure! Current artists I am looking at are (of course) Rihanna, Beyoncé; I really like DNCE - their music is so catchy and fun! I would love to open for them on tour!
Are there any plans to come and see us in the U.K. anytime soon?
Yes! I am planning on visiting next year: definitely one of my top goals is (actually) to tap into the U.K. music scene!
Looking ahead to 2017: what plans do you have either musically or personally?
I honestly want to tour and to gain my following by weekly cover songs on YouTube. I want to tour so I can keep pushing this project and release new singles as well.
If you could narrow it down to three albums – that have been most important to you as a musician – which would they be and why?
Yes. This is easy for me!
Definitely Corinne Bailey Rae's self-titled album from 2006 - because she is my absolute favorite artist. Her writing style, her vibe on stage and the mood her music puts you in is truly captivating.
Mariah Carey’s Emancipation of Mimi because every song was great on that and she even had bonus songs that were hot! I loved the writing on that album so much and that she actually had some dance-type such as It's Like That.
Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics Part 1 & 2. I thought there were so many songs that showed who she truly was on these two disc - and the writing was so great. All three of these albums have timeless music!
Are there any new musicians – in New York or the U.S. - coming through you recommend we check out?
To be honest, I listen to a majority of rising artist from the U.K.! There are some very fierce amazing artist over there! One of my favorite rising artist in the U.S. is from Atlanta, Georgia - his name is Raury!
For any new musicians coming through: can you give them any advice or guidance?
Yes! There are times when nothing seems like it's going right or even a slow period but never quit - you never know when your next blessing will come!
Keep shining: you’re made of gold!
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name any song (rather than your own as I’ll include it) and I’ll play it here.
Okay! Since I mentioned Raury (above) I would love for his song God's Whisper (to play).