Getting to know Helen Shanahan
This week we were lucky enough to have a chin-wag with Perth's musical babe, Helen Shanahan, about finding her voice, overcoming her introvert nature and the struggles of trying to make it as a full-time creative.
Read on to find out more about this lovely human.
What initially drew you towards the world of music?
I think I was drawn in because of the power it has to make you feel something. It can instantly take you to another place, when you’re feeling stressed/sad it can put you in a different frame of mind. I was drawn to it because I felt like I could express myself and connect with other people through it.
Can you tell us a little about your new single Camouflage? What’s the story behind it?
My new single is essentially about the struggle I face to put myself ‘out there’. I’m quite a shy and introverted person, and I always find I don’t want to put a wrong move or be too bold. So this song was about the desire to no longer be ‘camouflaged’ and wondering what it would be like to be totally comfortable with being myself and being more confident.
What fuels you creatively and how to you get over a creative slump?
I find that other songwriters really inspire me, listening to lots of different music helps me get into a creative space. I still keep a journal and this helps me to keep thinking and work on new ideas. I find it very hard when there’s a creative slump, as it happens quite often haha!! When that happens I just try not to stress, as that’s part of the process of writing music. The more I over think things, the less creative I am and the more I hold back. So I try and de-stress by taking a walk or doing something else for a while, then come back to it even if it’s not for a few weeks.
What’s are the three best things about your home town?
1. We have some of the best (I swear I am not bias!!) musicians and creative people in this town! Perth is a small place, but it is a wonderful creative hub. Sometimes I think the isolation works in our favour, as we can focus on our craft and not worry too much about the hustle and bustle.
2. It is very peaceful and not too busy. It’s a great place to relax and spend time with family and friends.
3. There is a wonderful sense of togetherness; everyone seems to know everyone through 6 degrees of separation haha, it makes you feel like you’re part of a big community.
Which band/artist would you absolutely fkn love to support?
Missy Higgins is my absolute idol!! I would love to support her.
How did you discover ‘your sound’?
I don’t know, I just picked up the guitar and started singing! I hope the sound has gotten better since my teen years though, haha! In all honesty, how hard do you think it is to be a full time (insert creative passion here) in a world that is driven by suits and ties and the 9 to 5?
I think it is incredibly difficult. It's seriously something I question every single day, “Should I really be doing this?”. You are always filled with self-doubt, as there’s no formula for how to be a successful working musician. Everyone is just trying to figure out what works best for them. I think you have to really persevere, and try not to be swayed by what everyone else is doing, as it’s so easy to compare yourself to other people. It’s also hard when people of a 9-5 profession don’t take you seriously or question what you’re doing, but it’s a completely different world and you just need to stick to your guns!
What’s something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
I have a severe fear of dinosaurs. I know how irrational that is, but it started when I saw a 3D documentary as a child and now I can’t even look at the screen when I see one – even a cartoon one!!
"It’s also hard when people of a 9-5 profession don’t take you seriously or question what you’re doing, but it’s a completely different world and you just need to stick to your guns!"
Pick a song to listen to when:
You’re getting sexy – Unaware – Allen Stone
You’re lying in bed on the weekend – Nouel – Lara Marling
You’re cooking up a feast – 1,2, 3, 4 – Feist
You’re feeling sorry for yourself – Blue – Joni Mitchell
You’re pissed off with the entire world – You Oughta Know – Alanis Morisette