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Recording Artists Guild Review

May 18/23

A Spotlight Interview With Shane Larmand

A beautiful new single from Shane Larmand comes through with a wondrous and Lush soundscape that builds from a stripped-down singer-songwriter and classic folk style to a much bigger more Americana feel and all the while you get a beautiful array of instrumentation that brings this to an almost cinematically orchestrated soundscape.

" Tennessee Cross" has a very particular warmth to it that has a way of wrapping itself around you and letting you become engulfed in the song itself.

The way this track is built and arranged gives it hints of a dark-edged haunt all the while you're getting these beautiful melodies that bounce around in your head for hours after the song has ended.

This single had a fantastic build into what it finally becomes and I think that's something we don't always get these days.

One of my favorite things about this song is it's element of escapism.

Once you're in the song you are in a different place and when the song ends you have to shake it off to come back to reality again.

This is something that's a rarity and what's not to love about songs that take you to other places?

It's almost like reading a chapter in a good book. You close it and look around the room to reacclimate yourself again.

When songs do things like that it's pretty impressive if you ask me.

The guitar work across this song is gorgeous and done with a level of perfectionism but never loses its soul which is probably the most important thing overall.

You can definitely hear an absolute love for the craft that Shane boasts throughout the course of the song and that heart is just oozing over everything.

His ability to genuinely create an atmosphere of its own is wondrous and the whole thing feels really good to listen to.

The gothic or dark folk element on this track is evident and you can hear the different influences he draws throughout the song which is also a bit refreshing in itself.

What's more is that you also get these cellos and stringed or bowed instruments that add that theatrical depth to the track along with added percussion that helps those builds become dramatic.

There was a lot of attention to detail when it comes down to it but again, that heart and that soul are always right up top.

The whole song is very emotionally driven, and you never lose that feeling.

With the release of such a wonderfully woven single, we wanted to have a sit-down with Shane Larmand to talk about where the song actually came from and what might be next for the artist.

Here's what happened.

RAG: Okay, let's start with the "Tennessee Cross"! This track had such an impactful and cinematic tonality to it! How did this single come about?

Tennessee Cross began as an idea years ago when I worked in Ontario as a farmer and singing cowboy on a petting zoo! Yes, you read that right, lol. I was walking with my pitchfork across my shoulders and the shadow it cast looked very Christ-like so I thought it could be an interesting idea to connect ideas like the difficulties of farming with sacrifice, scarecrows, etc. it since evolved to also touch on ideas such as family commitments and romantic love and how those two things don’t always go hand in hand so smoothly. I can’t remember how it became about Tennessee, lol, I’ve never been there, the two words just had a good ring together.

RAG: How did this all start for you as an artist? When did you fall in love with music?

Wow, there’s a lot to unpack here! My Dad was an incredible musical talent and certainly subconsciously influenced me from birth. He played mostly country and soul stuff and just had a fantastic voice and presence. The older I get the more I feel my music reflects him. My older bros also played in the family band with dad, so that was pretty cool. However, I remember clearly what got me into music as a teenager and influenced me to start playing drums. A good buddy of mine introduced me to Rush and specifically the song Cygnus X-1. He explained the sci-fi concept to me as we worked through the song and that was it for me, I wanted to make something that creative. As I grew, went through different bands, instruments and influences I found myself really gravitating toward a more reflective and folky style on my acoustic guitar that was handed down to me from Dad. I felt I couldn't compete with Dad the entertainer, but he didn't write songs so I knew that was where I could find my niche.

RAG: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?

Often and mostly the people around me. I have written songs for my late mom and dad, my wife, friends and most recently, my sweet little 3 month old. She is just amazing and the song I wrote for her may very well be the title of my next album. I also write about life, my struggles with having OCD and I've written quite a few songs about books and riddles that have captured my imagination. As a person who struggles with an anxiety disorder, I just want to let anyone and everyone know that there is no shame in talking about it and getting help. I did and I'm dealing with this condition in a more positive way all the time. You can get there too if you're struggling.

RAG: This track has some great styles on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?

I love this question. It's so much fun to talk about your favourite artists and how they connect with you. I mentioned Rush and my love for those guys never wanes even though I'll admit my stuff doesn't sound much like prog-rock. I just loved their creativity, energy and all around positivity I felt from them. I'm all about vibes with my music and if the music has too dark or depressing a vibe I can't get into it. That's how I feel about Pink Floyd and Tool. Both great bands but the darker vibe doesn't fit with me. Neil Young has been a massive influence on me, particularly the Harvest and Harvest Moon albums. My next album is my answer to those albums. Part of the reason I moved away from Rush, prog rock and thrash metal is my dad raised me on artists like The Doobie Brothers, Dire Straits, Wilson Pickett, Loggins and Messina, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker, BB King and so much more. I started out in some blues rock bands and my Uncle Joe and Dad taught me that "you can't call yourself a drummer unless you can play a good Chicago shuffle, left hand shuffle on the snare." The point here is while I enjoyed all the ideas bands like Rush were throwing out there, as I matured I got more and more into melodic folk and groove based music like blues, soul and reggae (I'm a huge Bob Marley fan). Dad also got me into Gordon Lightfoot and he's a massive influence on what I do. The funny thing is I'm influenced by all this great music, Supertramp, Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, Allman Brothers, but I don't really think I sound exactly like any of them. Ha, ha when I was playing bass and singing for my longest running band, I was compared vocally to Glenn Danzig of The Misfits! That was a new one!

RAG: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

I'm a visual artist as well. All of my merch, album covers, etc is done in a naturalist line and shape style with mostly animal subjects. The brand for this is called Line and Bison which can be found on my website shop and Instagram. I've been into drawing for even longer than I've played music. I'm a husband, a new dad, an art/music and social teacher, and gamer geek. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons a whole lot back in my teenage years, but I found problems with it, so, I've been inventing and creating an RPG of my own for years. I play it with students at the school I work at. I stay active, love the rocky mountains, but also really enjoy just chilling at home with the family. Lately the only practice time I can find is putting my girl in the bouncer seat and playing her my tunes as I keep her bouncing to the beat. She's bound to be into music in no time as she loves this. We jam out like this every day. I'm also an Edmonton Oilers fan and I'm cheering them on right now in their first playoff series of the year against the LA Kings.

RAG: Who's in your headphones right now?

Most of the time if I can find time to listen to much I'm curating songs for playlists. I've been out in my shop making toys and bookshelves for my girl and I found an old Tony Rice CD Dad must've had and if you ever need to hear some amazing guitar picking, look no further. It's a sweet, back home vibe for wood working as well. I've been on a Supertramp revival these days. I keep discovering songs that I didn't know before from them and just having them rock my world. If I'm cooking or in chill time with my girls I'll throw on an Iron and Wine, Fleet Foxes or Bob Marley record. I think my daughter is the coolest kid as her top three lullabies so far are Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, Walking on the Moon by The Police and Twinkle Twinkle. ha ha...Honestly, I don't listen much with headphones, there's too much going on all around me in this life!

RAG: Are you doing any live performances right now?

I'm slated to play a few smaller scale festivals here in Alberta throughout the summer season with the first one near Drumheller next month. I just did a little Facebook live but other than that I'm trying to keep the gigging slow because my little girl is so new to the world and needs her papa a whole lot right now. She gives us such joy.

RAG: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?

Somewhere in between. I work in a pretty small scale studio at a buddy's place in Bonnyville, AB called 302 Productions. We do all my work together and the sound engineer, Jeff Weeks, is also a drummer and is getting more and more involved in the production of the songs.

RAG: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

As I said earlier, my next album is my answer to Harvest Moon, so if you liked that wonderful recording I hope you'll like this one. My hope is that it comes together by fall and I usually release a single about every 3 months.

RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

Thanks so much to fine and open-minded Indie folks who take a chance on music like mine. I'm part of a pretty big online music community and I know I speak for most of my compadres when I say this. You may not know it but fans like you keep artists like us going.

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