Pancakes & Whiskey- Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Congrats on the new EP which is fantastic!

Shayna Leigh – Oh please, thank you so much for having me! I literally cannot wait to release it!

So your new EP is awesome! What is your favorite song to play live?

I’m so glad you like it! I know that’s a somewhat cliché/expected thing to say, but I really do get incredibly excited any time someone tells me they like the EP… it’s the first project that I’ve done that I’m officially releasing, and I’m really proud of how it all came together! I do love performing all of these songs, but if I had to pick my favorite, it’s probably “Crash.” It just has such a great live energy and always seems to get the audience engaged. I believe that’s the whole reason I’m up there on stage and “Crash” consistently allows me to do that … It’s also probably my most challenging vocal, so I think there is a part of me that loves the adrenaline of the risk involved in singing it live, I love that “there’s no turning back moment” right before I begin.

Your video for “Drive” is definitely empowering, what was your inspiration to create the concept behind the moving video?

This video is incredibly special to me because it truly is the story of what the song is about for me. “Drive” is about feeling scared and vulnerable and knocked down for whatever reason and choosing to keep going, to continue fighting for yourself and your dreams. When I sent the song to Virginia Crawford, the music video director who is also a very close friend of mine, she sent me back a short paragraph about what she envisioned as a potential concept, and I remember thinking, “THIS IS IT” She just got it. The story not autobiographical per say, but I have definitely been in situations not too dissimilar from any of the ones in the video… I think we all have! That’s what I love about it. I have also always seen “Drive” as somewhat of a love letter to my younger self, and I really wanted that incorporated into the video.

Did you have a central theme you wanted to stick to throughout the EP? Or was it a free flowing writing process?

It’s so interesting because I did not start the EP with any themes in mind. The songs were written with three different (and insanely talented) co-writers (Peter Zizzo on three tracks including “Drive”, and Paula Winger and Allie Peden on one track each) in three different cities months apart and yet I do think a pretty consistent theme naturally developed… there’s obviously a bit of a driving theme, but more than that, I think the whole project is about emerging from the darkness of a difficult time. It is a reminder to move forward, that you can get to the next, better place. I think it’s something we can all stand to remember… we’ll get there!

You have played a lot of shows in NYC, which is your favorite venue to play?

Truthfully, I am a pretty unparticular performer in terms of playing venues- I like playing anywhere and everywhere; NYC shows in general are always special to me because it’s my home base, so I have a lot of friends and family here… and as I’m up there singing about getting through difficult times, overcoming obstacles and the like, the people who literally got me through them are standing there in the audience… and everything becomes that much more personal. My very first show in the city was at Rockwood. I played my first show back after a year off at the Living Room with the biggest band and largest hometown audience to date, and last year I played a show on my birthday at the Bitter End. I will never forget any of them.

Do you have any rituals before playing a show?

You know, the more shows I play, the more I let go of most of my pre-show rituals… I always do my vocal warm ups. I try to go to the gym that day if I can. Mostly I try to stay as normal as possible. What I’ve started to learn is that the more relaxed I am and the less seriously I take myself, the more fun the performance is for me and more importantly for the audience. I mean the whole point really is to connect with the people out there listening… so I try to focus on that!

Growing up, who were your musical influences? If you can tour with any favorite musician, who would it be?

I grew up with many different musical influences. My dad loves the guitar and bottle fed me to the soundtrack of the Beatles. He loves melody. My mom loves story telling, the Carole Kings and Carly Simons of the world… So between the two of them I really did have a lesson in the greats. The first artists I fell in love with independently I would say were Pat Benatar, Queen and later Laura Nyro. They’re very different, but they each have this organically unique mastery of imbibing their work with drama and power. I was very much in awe of that.

I mean I think the better question would be who wouldn’t I want to play with?! I already feel super lucky to have been able to perform alongside the acts I’ve played with so far (I mean, Howie Day…) I suppose the names that come immediately to mind are Ingrid Michaelson, Jason Mraz, Alanis Morisette (Jagged Little Pill played on repeat for at least a year of my life) … To have the chance to play anywhere is a gift. I try really hard not to take it for granted.

Article by: Karen Silva

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