In the psych music genre, there are tons of sub-genres that echo throughout the scene. Typically, these are subsets of guitar pedal drenched sounds that remind any listener of how lush and beautiful music can be while taking them to a far and away place. For psych-pop veteran Shana Falana, those pedal heavy sounds are all she knows. On her latest release, last year's Here Comes The Wave she takes her sound to a whole new space without losing any of her well deserved indie cred. The Houston Press was more than happy to chat with her about her surroundings, her latest record, and what people can expect from her at her Houston appearance Tuesday at Walter's.
Coming from the DIY scene, it's often common for artists to get used to handling all of their own affairs. Everything from getting photos taken, booking tours, and recording albums to promoting their work and even getting their own press. When I ask Falana if she would only do things herself, her response was rather refreshing. "I would die and go to heaven to have others handling things for me. For the first time in my life I haven't had to book my own tour or self manage my project. Mike Amari (my drummer and boyfriend) manages us and handles the booking and online media promotion, I also have a publicist, a label, and a radio team. I'm feeling more like an artist and less like a business person."
Of course with someone who is used to doing things on her own, Falana still finds time to speak with and help women in her area of upstate New York overcome addiction. While she herself volunteers alongside continuing to work on rehabilitation, she would love for someone to create a database for others to offer the same resources in their own cities and communities. "I'm part of a 12 step group that has three legacies, recovery, unity, and service which I take very seriously. I do believe that everyone should do more volunteering if they only knew what was needed in their area. If people want to help, it all starts by asking around."
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When we turn back to music, Falana doesn't mince words when describing her overall sound. A genre she describes as dark pop, her explanation of genres from journalists and the music world in general, is pretty intriguing. "I laugh at genres, we didn't really have them in the nineties when I was starting in music. Now I think they're hilarious and it seems like another form of creative expressionism to come up with names for music. My favorite was bedroom pop, but that's so 2005."
And whether she cares what she's called or not, her output has been impressive, finding her working with famed producer D. James Goodwin (Bob Weir, Benjamin Booker, Devo) for the second time on her latest album.
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"It's so interesting to me all of the people he records with, but it's because he's so good at what he does that he attracts these big names," she says. "Usually when you record with a producer or engineer, they have you record some of your instruments, then have you go into the studio to get you to listen to see if you like the tones you're getting. Well we don't do that with Goodwin. We set up, he gets the tones and I don't need to check, they're perfect. I record my own vocals at home in my closet, and comp my own vocal tracks in Protools and send them over. We plow through a ten hour day and it's so easy working with him. Surreal, but easy."
That new album, last year's Here Comes the Wave is definitely a step in a more hook heavy direction. Led by the single "Cool Kids," the release is definitely less dark and without the post punk tendencies that 2015's Set Your Lightning Fire Free contained. When asked if the surroundings of upstate New York were what caused the change or is it what she's into at the time, Falana remarked "I think we just wanted to go a little heavier (for Set Your Lightning Fire Free). Our next album (we're recording again in February of 2018) will be heavy as well, but more tribal and dancey. I can hear some songs in the ether. So they're informing the next album, it's really hard picking the songs."
What Falana brings to this set in Houston, will be mix of her past and present releases, as well as her signature mix of energy coupled with lush and sonic guitars. When asked what people who've never seen her perform should expect, she replies "I have created the kind of show that I want to experience. Live shows can be intoxicating and releasing. I love to forget myself for a while and get absorbed into performance and music. Since I'm sober, I love being immersed in a room full of reverb heavy sounds, flashing lights, and positive energy. If you have trouble with lights out, intense flashing visuals, then maybe hang in the back. But if you're ready to let go, then stand right up front and take it in."
You can take in all of the energy, lush visuals, and pedal heavy guitars that Shana Falana brings to a live performance, when she plays on Tuesday November 14 at Walter's. The all ages show will also have performances from Astragal and Ari & the Skeletons. Doors at 8 p.m.; tickets for $10.