by Cyrus Webb (for the May/June Issue of Conversations Magazine)
(Photo by Javier Lovera)For many the idea of sharing the thoughts of your diary or personal thoughts with the world is too much for them to consider. When it comes to recording artist Shannon Micol, she would honestly have it no other way. The Toronto, Ontario native is sharing her inner-most thoughts with the world through her music, and we are all the benefactors of the result. Her debut album NO MORE CINDERELLA takes you into her journey with relationships as well as the way she looks at herself.
In this interview she does the same, allowing you to see from the beginning how the road that began so long ago has brought her here and to a unspecified destination yet to come.
Here is our conversation...
Shannon, thank you for the opportunity to share your story with our readers. We recently had an opportunity to talk on Conversations the radio show, but for those who missed it, why don't we begin at the beginning. When did you realize your ability to tell stories through songs?
It was something that seemed to come naturally. I grew up singing, and writing was an instinctive way of expressing myself. Writers write. Singers sing. It's difficult to truly appreciate and recognize your talents when you've never experienced a life without them. I do however, remember a time in tenth grade English class when I requested to write a song in lieu of a paper we were supposed to submit on "To Kill A Mockingbird". I was granted permission, on the condition that I perform it in front of the class. Although I had never consciously recognized it as an ability, it's safe to say that by that point, I was fully aware of it.
I have found that having encouragement is so important to keeping you motivated. How did having the support of your family encourage you to move onward and upward?
The unconditional support and encouragement from my family is most likely the reason I became so resilient. My parents supported all my artistic whims and flights of fancy, not only because they loved me, but because they truly believed in my abilities. I never believed anything wasn't possible, because I grew up in an environment where everything was. So I perceived any rejection as merely another obstacle that was a part of the process, as opposed to a source of discouragement. I've been granted so much freedom many artists don't have the luxury of having while in the pursuit of such a career, as a direct result of the continued support (both emotional and financial) my family has always offered. There really is no way to properly articulate the gratitude I have for them in this regard. I'm not sure I always deserve it, but I'm doing my best to justify their faith.
Writing can sometimes be such a personal thing, almost like journaling. Did you ever see your songs that way and what is it like for you to now share those thoughts and feelings with the world?
With the exception of a few failed attempts, I never really kept a journal. I just didn't have the patience. In my teens, my songs were more scattered in terms of subject matter, and writing them was (like I mentioned previously) just a natural way of expressing myself. Things began to change when I started writing the songs that would eventually become my album. I never set out to write a full body of work, but that's exactly what it became. There was definitely a journaling aspect to my approach by this point, because suddenly I had a story to tell, and it was a story that inspired me to sing about and acknowledge in the only way I knew how. Writing was my only recourse. It was my way of archiving every moment worth remembering, every choice I was proud to have made, all deserving of their own chapters. With the exception of a couple of songs I wrote in my teens, NO MORE CINDERELLA is a diary I am proud to share with the world, as it's representative of my truest self. The story behind it continues to inspire the best version of myself, and the album is a fair and relevant reflection of that.
Your debut album is NO MORE CINDERELLA and to me tells a story of a woman becoming comfortable in her own skin, with what she wants and who she is becoming. Is that what you were hoping was reflected in the tracks, and how has it been having people coming up with their own message from your lyrical story?
In all honesty, I had absolutely no preconceived notions as to what my songs would reflect or how they might be interpreted. Nor did I have any hopes about how they might be perceived. That just never mattered, as I wasn't writing them for anyone but myself. I don't care how others interpret me based on the songs, because I know what they mean to me. It's interesting to hear what you took from it, because although I certainly wasn't able to intellectualize it at the time, it's a pretty fair assessment now, listening to it as a whole. All my favorite songs growing up were songs that resonated because of something about them I could relate to. That others can now listen to my songs and have that same feeling is one of my favorite things about sharing them. I would never want to taint your personal interpretation of a song by imposing my own upon you. Whatever the song means to you, is ultimately exactly what it's about. When you share something, it's no longer just yours anymore. (Photo by Josh Cornell)
Shannon, as you know personally so much of introducing yourself to the world is the marketing and promoting of you along with your music. Has that been easy for you, and is it possible to separate the life of Shannon the woman from Shannon the recording artist?
Introducing myself to the world has not been, by any means, an easy part of this process. The marketing and promotional world is one I'm just not educated enough about to assume control in any way, and I find it incredibly overwhelming. I just want to be told when and where to show up, and what to do once I get there! When it comes to Shannon the woman and Shannon the recording artist, they are one in the same. It's just something I do that is a part of who I am. I don't go to a regular job every day that I want to leave at the office until I return there the next morning. It's not me, and it's not what I do. I grew up believing it was possible to carve out a hugely successful living by doing something you loved. Perhaps that's rare, but I'm determined to make myself lucky.
One place we all seem to be on an equal footing is the internet. Can you talk about how social networking and sites like Youtube have helped you to reach a larger audience?
I appreciate the unprecedented access the internet provides artists, and am grateful for the fan base I am cultivating through such sites that was impossible to reach at this point in another era. But it's a world so far removed from actual human contact that I find it incredibly isolating, and try not to exceed a certain amount of time per day being there.
I feel really strong about the importance of passion when it comes to anything you do, especially if you are going to do it well. What keeps you so passionate about your career as an entertainer?
I don't believe there's any other recourse for me! I'm at my most comfortable on stage, in the spotlight, when I'm under the lights and in front of an audience. I feel more at home there than I do anywhere else in the world. Everything I do in my career is done ultimately to create that platform, for that's when I really feel at home. In regards to passion, it's sometimes the only thing that fuels me, especially when my faith begins to waver. Passion is what inspired the album, and the relevance of that passion is what inspires me to be the best I can be.
Congratulations again on all of your success, Shannon. Glad we were able to connect. How can our readers stay in contact with you and purchase the album?
Thank you so very much, Cyrus! It's been my pleasure to connect and answer all your questions. Your readers can go to my website www.shannonmicol.com, where they can purchase my album through Itunes and Amazon. They can also visit my fanpage on facebook, where I invite them to share their experiences in listening to the album. I'll do my best to answer any questions anyone has for me! Thank you again.
Listen to Shannon Micol's interview on Conversations LIVE with Cyrus Webb here: www.esnips.com/web/shannonmicol.