Seattle’s Shelby Earl is getting ready to head down to Austin for SXSW Music, but there’s enough time to answer our five questions!
1. Welcome to SXSW Baby. Tell us a bit about the yourself.
I’m a Seattle-based singer/songwriter who, in the words of NPR’s Ann Powers, “writes music for folks who’ve been through a few things.” I have a new Damien Jurado-produced album out called Swift Arrows, which has received a healthy dose of critical acclaim since it’s release in late-2013, and which, in the words of Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab/Postal Service), “proves [Shelby] has the most heartbreakingly beautiful voice in Seattle” (thank you, Ben!). Last month, Spark and Shine Records (Ken Stringfellow, The Maldives, Starr Anna) released the album on pink vinyl and I’ve been out on the road promoting it ever since (I’ll be out with the amazing Tom Brosseau up ’til SXSW!).
Swift Arrows is the follow-up to my solo debut album, Burn the Boats, which was produced by John Roderick of the Long Winters, and which Amazon.com named the “#1 Outstanding 2011 Album You Might Have Missed.” If you’re one of the many who missed that one, I recommend picking up both records!
2. Why have you decided to showcase to SXSW this year?
I’ve played SXSW multiple times, but always unofficially. I got the invite to play an official showcase this year and I couldn’t pass it up! But most importantly, I’m proud of the collection of songs Damien and I recorded together (almost entirely live) and I love playing them for people up-close-and-personal.
3. Who are your musical influences and heroes?
My musical heroes are all over the map stylistically, but I tend to gravitate toward artists with unique voices and songs. Among that list of heroes are Bjork, Rufus Wainwright, Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, and, of course, Damien Jurado.
4. If our readers could listen to just one of your tracks, which track would it be and why?
I would suggest “Swift Arrows”, the title track off the new record. I think it best encompasses the intention and meaning behind the rest of the album. Some of the other songs might be a bit more raucous or visceral, but this song is probably the truest reflection of my voice as an artist. Also, the video below will break your heart in an NSFW sort of way. So, if you’re into that kind of thing, this is for you.
5. Who else do you think we should be listening to at SXSW Music 2014?
I don’t know, but you’re going to see me right next to you at all those showcases and parties, hunting for the newest gems!