Recently, we had a chance to sit down with Toronto musician R. Shelley to ask her about her latest EP, Sink or Swim. Since its April release, Shelley has been playing throughout the Greater Toronto Area. This talented solo artist will not only impress you with her voice but intrigue you with her lyrics. Canadian Content Machine’s Richard Moore got to pick the brain of R. Shelley and find out more about the musician.
RM: How long ago did you record your album Sink or Swim?
RS: I recorded the album almost a year ago when there was time for me to record. I’ve realized that there has been growth since then.
RM: Since it has been almost a year since recording, do you wish you had put other songs on the album?
RS: Oh yeah! I wish I had put several more songs. I have these songs now where I’ve grown, changed and realized things about myself that make sense for this point in my life. I wouldn’t have written it back then.
RM: How did you start playing guitar?
RS: I always had a knack for the stage–at first it wasn’t music, I wanted to be in the theatre! But I’ve come to realize that it is music. I did play piano; I took lessons when I was younger. In high school I picked up a guitar. I saw some guys playing guitar during an extracurricular activity, everyone around them were singing and having fun, and I said to myself, “I can do that”, and I did.
RM: What was the recording process for the album?
RS: When I started interning at Oak Recording Studio, I was given a wonderful opportunity to record. I was given one weekend; just two days. We sat down the day before and they recommended that I pick 5 songs I was sure I wanted to record. I knew I had 5 I wanted for sure and maybe a 6th. That’s the wrong mentality to have when you go into make a record, because you need all of that focus and not have in the back of your head “oh maybe this one would have been better”. I think the 5 songs I chose make for a good first record.
RM: Why did you use “Sink or Swim” for the album’s title?
RS: Let’s be honest, nothing else really worked as the album title. ‘Sink or Swim’, even just the metaphor was something I was going through at the time.
RM: What else have you been up to lately?
RS: I’ve started taking vocal lessons. I’ve had three and they are going great. You find out new things about yourself, things you didn’t know you could do. I wish I had done it sooner.
RM: Do your write a lot?
RS: Yes, it’s a never ending process. When I feel like I have something that is good, I want to make it the best it can be. There are periods that I don’t write just so I can focus on one certain task.
RM: Tell me about your guitar.
RS: I bought my first guitar and it was great until it just didn’t do the trick. I got to the point when I wanted to buy a really good guitar. I went down to Long and McQuade and bought a Martin. But when I brought it home it didn’t fit right. So I returned it, bought my Taylor and it has been great since. I even get people coming up to me saying that my guitar sounds amazing.
Check out R. Shelley:
Author: Richard Moore
Photos: Linda Arki