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Interview with Shannon Hemmett – LEATHERS, ACTORS

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Shannon is one of the most versatile artists I had the pleasure to meet. Synth and vocal in the Canadian postpunk band ACTORS, a singer and composer in her own project LEATHERS,   a photographer, graphic and tattoo artist...extremely creative, driven by caffeine, art and optimism she creates worlds of her own that follow a fine aesthetics and sublime sound. Just on the verge of the release of the new LEATHERS single  "Restless" (to be out on 11th June 2021) I talk to Shannon about her inspirations, what brought her to music in the first place and what it feels like to play live...

Karo Kratochwil: Hello Shannon, thank you for finding time to answer some questions.  First of all, I wanted to congratulate you on the release of "Phantom  Heart". It's a truly exceptional piece - both energetic and fragile, it holds a bit melancholic vibe. If you were to describe the music of  LEATHERS what would you say?

Shannon: Thank you! I like to explore the contrasts of light and shadow. I feel  LEATHERS exists in the spaces between fantasy and reality, where it’s uncertain if you’re awake or dreaming. 

KK:  LEATHERS is entirely your child. What made you create your own project?

Shannon: I love to sing, and LEATHERS allows me to put my voice front and centre. LEATHERS has a strong visual aesthetic, and as an artist, it provides the opportunity to create a visual landscape alongside the music as well.

KK: In what way the things you do in LEATHERS differ from your work with  ACTORS?

Shannon: I’m involved in the day to day of all things ACTORS, so it’s probably not too
different in terms of actual tasks, but ACTORS is Jason’s place of expression,  and LEATHERS is mine.

KK: Since we have a chance to talk for the first time I wanted to ask what first brought you to music?

Shannon: I played various instruments in grade school; saxophone, guitar, keyboard, and drums, but I didn't join a band until much later in life. I always loved to sing but was shy about my voice. When I first met my ACTORS bandmate  Jason he encouraged me to sing, and gradually, I overcame my nerves.

KK: I know you're also involved in doing tattoos and drawing? Could you tell me what get you involved in doing them professionally? Where do you take your inspirations from?

Shannon: I worked as a photographer and graphic designer for over a decade before transitioning into tattooing. When ACTORS started to tour regularly, I needed to find work that had a flexible schedule and also allowed for touring/travel. I  had been getting tattooed and was interested in the art form since I was a  teenager, so it was a natural evolution for me. My tattooing has a pop art
influence, I like bold designs with lots of black and bold colour. Artists like  Roy Lichtenstein, and Patrick Nagel inspire my work.

KK: If you could name things that give you energy and drive to stay creative and involved in so many things, what would they be?

Shannon: Caffeine! Coffee! Haha. I work all the time on my various projects, there are no days off but that's the way I like it best. I try to rest in the evenings to recharge. During COVID, I caught up on a lot of movies, and have found inspiration from the films of William Freidkin, David Lynch, and Nicolas  Winding Refn. The community aspect of working with other people in art and music is hugely inspiring as well. We can accomplish a lot when we join forces and support each other.

KK: LEATHERS is also about very beautiful aesthetics I personally associate with you very much. Do you think the visual side that goes with music releases is also important? Also if you think of live shows for example?

Shannon: It's so important, I have always appreciated bands with aesthetics that pair well with their sound. For me, it's exciting to elaborate on LEATHERS in all mediums (music, photography, video, writing, personal style etc). In a live setting, a band's look or stage presentation can create a memorable atmosphere or mood.

KK: I saw you performing with ACTORS two years ago (imagine it was so long time ago, feels like yesterday with all the lockdown thing) How do you feel about live shows?

Shannon: That was a fun show! We felt so much love from our Polish fans. I miss playing live, of course, but there is hope for shows on the horizon. As long as the restrictions continue to ease, ACTORS will be touring worldwide this fall.

KK: What do you see for yourself in the future? It seems to be more uncertain than ever…Are you planning any live shows with LEATHERS?

Shannon: If the upcoming shows for ACTORS are postponed, we'll continue to work on new music and art at home until we can get back out on the road. We don't have shows planned for LEATHERS at the moment, but the future is bright.

KK: Thank you very much for your time
Translator: khocico
Add date: 2021-06-07 / Articles

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