On his new single ‘Colour’.
Shaun Redlake is a guitarist, singer and songwriter based in Manchester. He describes his sound as ‘happy fingerstyle pop’, but when he talks about his influences they range from soul and funk to musical theatre. The artists he has collaborated and performed with are equally as versatile, including the Manchester-based recording ensemble the Untold Orchestra, with whom he released his previous single Planet Roaming Creature, as well as Kabantu (recently featured here on Audience). His new single Colour has just been released, so we asked him to tell us more about his writing process, biggest influences, dream venues and the story behind the song.
Who have been your main influences as songwriter?
Definitely Newton Faulkner. I absolutely adore him, he’s like a hero of mine. Everything from John Butler trio all the way to Muse who do this symphonic mix with pop as well. Then obviously getting into the jazz world… The Yellowjackets are an amazing fusion band. But yeah mainly Newton Faulkner, J. P. Cooper, Jason Mraz and all those singer-songwriters.
I have a lot of soul and funk influences from doing session work as well. I sing with an amazing group in Liverpool called the Sense of Sound Singers, which is run by Jennifer John who works on ‘The Voice’ and is incredible. She has taught me a lot – the more I learn about the voice the more I realise its versatility.
I’m also massively influenced by musical theatre. But no matter what style of music I’m writing it will always stem from fingerstyle guitar.
You work with lots of classical musicians – did you have a ‘classical’ training?
To a degree. I did my undergrad at Manchester University and studied composition throughout that, but I wasn’t classically trained as a guitarist or anything, I was more jazz and pop trained!
Can you describe your songwriting process?
I always start with the guitar. I think what always comes first is the complex part – I’ll write a fingerstyle instrumental part of something and think, ‘how can I work backwards from this?’, and extract out the chords and extract out the progression.
I think the idea to put the strings in came from doing Planet Roaming Creature. As much as you can add a synthesizer to something and it sounds very similar… just the warmth of the [live] strings and the expressiveness is so much more. This is quite an emotional song and I really wanted to incorporate that sound.
You’ve worked with our previously featured artists Kabantu – what was that like?
Not only are they incredible musicians but they’re all very nice people as well, we just got along. They were doing a couple of gigs in Manchester and just asked me to come down and support. They play quite upbeat music and they’re folky with a twist which is kind of sort of what I do.
And you’ve also worked with the Untold Orchestra?
That was for my previous single, ‘Planet Roaming Creature’. I had a call from the musical director who said he really liked the music and would be keen to orchestrate some of it so we spend a couple of months putting it together. I felt like they really gave the single a wow-factor so I really poured my heart into that project. It was amazing, they’re an incredible bunch of musicians.
What are the main challenges of being an independent artist?
I think the biggest challenge doesn’t necessarily come with creating, or even the business side of it, but just how do you keep moving forward, how do you improve? Finding the time to practice and get to a level up is often the hardest thing.
As a solo artist I have been doing a sort of one-man-band thing, where I do everything: percussive stuff, harmonies, loops and things like that. I always want to make it as full a show as possible. I’m really excited to be putting a band together this year to do a headline show which is to be confirmed later in the year.
What would be your dream venue?
Glastonbury. I’m actually from there originally and so it’s slightly heartbreaking that I haven’t played there yet. That’s definitely the goal.
Tell us more about the new single!
The single is called ‘Colour’. I took about a year away from performing to take some time, not necessarily re-invent but just to write some new music, work on my voice and do something a bit different. This single is a bit more serious (a bit less Disney!). It’s the first single I’ve recorded with a string quartet which was really cool. I don’t quite know how to describe it’s genre – a mixture of folk, pop and rock I guess.
The music video was filmed in the Albert Hall in Manchester and features the dancer Alison Eager.
Is the single part of an album?
I think I’m just releasing singles at the moment – I don’t want to give away all of my work at once. There are a few to come over the summer!
Is there a story behind ‘Colour’?
It’s about seeing that person that takes your breath away and kind of wondering why you haven’t taken their breath away yet. Pleading with them to give you a chance so that they can see what you’re worth. I wrote the song about seeing a girl across the bar where I work. I basically fell for her straight away and I was trying to work out if she was falling for me… we are now together so it turned out for the best!
Colour is out now – watch the music video here:
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