Shannon Lay wrote a Love Letter to Planet Earth in the form of her album Living Water.
Find Blocland’s full album review here:
“I am here as a channel for something bigger than myself and the more I acknowledge that, the more it acknowledges me” reveals the singer/songwriter about blooming into herself as an artist. Listening to Shannon Lay, as well as watching her perform, fosters a sense of oneness. Lay enhances the richness in soil and vibrancies of the elements. Whether it comes to us in waves, winds or forests- she brings us there- yet it remains an independent journey.
PANTSUIT, drawn to her mystical artistry, secured an interview with Shannon Lay where they broke open the cocoon that is Living Water, as well as a couple questions about tour life with musician Kevin Morby. Enlightened by Lay’s answers, the album metamorphosed from a nocturnal caterpillar into a grand lunar moth:
Blocland: Living Water pulls us closer to Earth more than your freshman album All This Life Going Down had. What influenced this worldly connectedness?
Shannon Lay: In the last few years I’ve developed a real appreciation for growing up by the beach. When I was writing this record, it was the simple yet hugely impressive things that inspired me most; the sunset, the ocean, a summer breeze, clouds in the night sky. My perspective has expanded to how small I am and how incredible this world we live in is. The record quickly became a love letter to the planet earth in a lot of ways. It’s the most wonderful feeling to zoom out and appreciate the breath in your lungs and the wind in the trees.
Blocland: How do you feel you have grown as a musician since your signing with Mare Records?
Shannon Lay: It’s been amazing to feel the momentum of the last year. Signing with Mare was a beautiful moment, I respect and love Kevin Morby and Woodsist so much and to become part of that family was a really cool step. The growth has come in the form of a deep acceptance of my place in life right now. I am here as a channel for something bigger than myself and the more I acknowledge that the more it acknowledges me. I’m just finishing up a US tour with Kevin and I’m so excited to get home and start writing the next record.
Blocland: “Dog Fiddle” is a quick instrumental track on Living Water. It acts almost as an intermission. What were the influences behind this piece?
Shannon Lay: I really wanted to create a mood with this record. On a lot of my favorite albums there’s those moments where you forget your even listening to anything and your just lost in feeling. Dog Fiddle is meant to be a moment of rest, a place for no thought, just feeling.
Blocland: How many finger rings does Kevin Morby own? Does he keep them in a special box?
Shannon Lay: Hahaha. I have no idea, he’s got some good ones though and I’m sure he’s got a wicked sweet box for ‘em.
Blocland: Living Water reflects upon a sense of losing control. The debut released on the autumn equinox which refers to equality between day and night. Yet, the lyrics display imbalance. What significance, or insight, could you bring to your listeners here?
Shannon Lay: I think it’s more of an acceptance of loss of control. I’ve found in my life that the most suffering comes from resistance. Accepting your current circumstance is the only way to create peace of mind. I love that it came out on the autumn equinox, even seasons are total chaos that we have accepted to the point of naming those moments and enjoying them. Life will never be perfect but it is all a dream and once you realize you have control, that’s when things can ebb and flow beautifully as you take each situation and regulate your reactions. Become an observer of your mind and do not judge yourself for losing control at times. It’s a big beautiful mess!
Blocland: Seeing you play live was, to put it mildly, emotionally overwhelming. What prepares you to tap into that sacred place allowing for a raw performance in front of an audience?
Shannon Lay: I love the emotion that I can evoke in people. Before a show my favorite thing is a good stretch and a glass of wine. It’s easier sometimes than others but I try to clear my mind and create an energy that puts me close to everyone in the room. It’s important for me that people listen, the shows where the crowds are restless are difficult but I’ve gotten better at maintaining my mind set and respect for my songs in those moments. The shows where everyone is silent and attentive are incredible, there’s no better feeling than being so connected with total strangers. It’s pretty amazing to effect people in such a way and I think if you have an emotional reaction there was probably something inside that needed to be released. To facilitate that is incredible, it’s like group therapy.
Blocland: Many of your songs create a rich, picturesque setting and put us in an environment we’ve all visited. However, despite the nostalgia, your lyrics depict an inability to let go, or perhaps know when to do so. Do you feel you have a better understanding of mother nature vs. human nature?
Shannon Lay: I definitely see sanity in the insanity of nature. Whereas human behavior can be very difficult to comprehend.
Blocland: As the guitarist of the psyche-punk band Feels, your solo project is beautifully tame in comparison. How did your music take off in this direction?
Shannon Lay: I’ve always written songs like this but I didn’t think there was a place for them in the scene in LA. I was so used to going to punk shows and getting my ears blown out. The moment that really inspired me was seeing Jessica Pratt, who’s absolutely incredible, play a few years ago. Her set was so intimate and the audience was so wrapped up in it. It changed my life and I booked my first solo show about 2 months later. I was so nervous before I played i swore I’d never do it again but the response was so warm and welcoming it quickly became one of the most rewarding parts of my life. I love the balance of having Feels and having my solo project.
Blocland: The new album is released and your North American tour has winded down. What’s next for Shannon Lay?
Shannon Lay: I’m gonna get home, watch Seinfeld, cuddle with my cat and then I’ve got some shows to celebrate the record release: Monday 9/25 at Zebulon and Saturday 9/30 at Permanent Records in Highland Park. I’m also planning a European tour for next year and I’m really excited to start writing my next record. Feels is also finishing up our second record so we’ll have some tours on the horizon. Really excited for next year. Till then I’m so happy to be home, this tour with Kevin has been such a dream.
Blocland: Lastly, does Kevin Morby hang his head and cry a lot in real life? Are Kleenex part of the tour’s budget? If so, how do you and the other members comfort him?
Shannon Lay: Haha. Honestly Kevin is the most light-hearted, wonderful human being I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I’ve never known him to hang his head and cry but we all have our moments, I’m sure he’s used his fair share of Kleenex (which is true for all of us). As far as this tour goes we’ve had a great time. Nothin’ but fun at its finest.
Make sure you listen to Living Water this autumn as we celebrate the harvest season.