[Editors Note: Back in November, our friends at Infinite Mag did a wonderful feature/interview with TuneCore Artist India Shawn. Her pop-infused R&B sound can be heard on her debut Origin, and more recently her 2015 EP Outer Limits. Read on as India opens up on performing and growing as an artist.]
When Infinite last talked about extraordinarily refreshing LA born singer and songwriter, India Shawn, back in February, she was on the heels of releasing Outer Limits -a collaborative EP with Grammy winning songwriter/producer, James Fauntleroy. Blurring R&B and pop genre lines with an eclectic sound, the impact of singles like “Floating Away” and “One Sun”, left her growing fan base wanting more…and she’s giving it to them. India Shawn embarked on the Crystal Express Tour with Atlanta’s own budding phenomenon Raury in October, allowing those who already love her music to experience her live.
India’s ability to create songs that seem to come straight from her soul to our ears has given her a respectable career of 10 years and counting. Spending part of that time behind the scenes writing for some of our favorite top artists, the 2012 release of her first EP, Origin, placed her in front of the microphone and in our hearts as we fell in love with her angelic buttery voice.
The songstress admits that she had been speaking a tour experience into existence for herself and wanting the opportunity to travel and meet her supporters, while sharing her songs. She says, “The touring element is what makes it real for me. I want to get outside of the world I know and touch the people.”
There’s no doubt that being on the road with Raury won’t be a traditional tour experience. Both share fans who enjoy the true artistry behind music and the desire to hear a message that many say is missing in the majority of music being played on today’s mainstream radio.
While in between her Boston and Vancouver show dates, India chatted with me about the tour experience, connecting with the audience, making fashion blend with confidence on stage, and creating new music.
Alisa Dunn: What has the energy been like so far on the Crystal Express tour?
India Shawn: Beyond description really! Raury brings out such a diverse room of people. I’m talking about black kids in dashikis, older white couples, industry folks, and of course, all the “indigo children”. It’s beautiful to see.
I’ve heard you say Boston was a great show. What made it such a wonderful night?
Well, for one, the audience was sitting Indian style on the floor before the show even began. *laughs* I knew at that point the show was going to be something different. They were just so open and receptive to the music. They were FUN and they were involved. Nobody was staring at their cell phone or talking during the show. They came to hear music, and that really energized me. I actually think that was one of my best shows…like to date.
What do you want to give your fans on this tour?
I just wanna sing my ass off every night and leave people feeling inspired and excited about me, and about the future of music. I want them to feel like music is in good hands.
What do you want those who have never heard your music before to walk away with?
I want them to feel like I’m what they’ve been missing. It’s cool because I approach each show as a challenge to win the audience over. I’m on stage like, “How many people can I make fall in love with me tonight?”
What’s the best part about being on stage?
The best part is making the connection. It’s the point where it all kind of comes together. Like, I’ve had emotional experiences, I’ve written about them and put a ton of energy into recording these songs that are so special and so personal to me, and I’m up there blown away that people are responding and singing the lyrics with me…and that people even care. It’s a spiritual experience.
What common thread to do you think you share with your fans? How do they relate to your music?
Most of my fans are music makers and music lovers. The kind of music lovers who read credits to see who contributed to an album. I was that person. From the feedback I get online, I know that my audience really dissects the music and the lyrics. There’s an appreciation for the craftsmanship.
In addition to connecting to the music, people also have to connect to your image. While there are many over the top entertainers we love, there are also the ones who’s looks seem as genuine and organic as their sound.
How important do you think is image to an artist’s success?
Seems like today’s industry is totally about the packaging and presentation of it all. The artist as a product. I get that. I just don’t know how important it is to me anymore. My image is whatever I felt like wearing that day. Thinking about people like Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, and so many other greats confirms for me that realness is what resonates.
Knowing this is what I was put on earth to do keeps me going. I have a gift that I’m responsible for and a part of that responsibility is sharing it. Whether that be with 3 people or 3 million people. It’s much bigger than fame.
You’re well respected for your writing ability and have a unique way of using words to move us to certain emotional states. Where’s the most unlikely place you’ve written a song?
In the shower! I guess a lot of people feel like they have musical super powers when they get in the shower, but I kid you not, there was a point where I felt like ideas were pouring down onto me through my shower head. *laughs*
You went to LA earlier this year to work on new music, so what’s next? You experimented with a lot of different sounds for Outer Limits. Any idea what musical direction you want to go in?
It’ll be more of a focused direction. I can’t tell you what it’s going to be just yet. I’m still in creation mode, and in music or art in general the art has this magical way of doing its own thing and becoming something greater than you’d anticipated or planned for it to be. It’ll be great.