Tolan Shaw releases "Shades 2"
San Diego singer/songwriter Tolan Shaw unveils the second part of “Shades”, a project where the artist experiments the different faces of his musicality in three parts. After introducing his fun side on the first part of his project, Shaw is now exploring his vulnerable side. Produced by American songwriter/producer Jesse Barrera, “Shades 2.” reveals two stripped down soulful-folk records, allowing Shaw to convey a very honest songwriting.
The Californian musician has been touring across the US and Europe and got the opportunity to share the stage with artists such as Gavin Degraw and Alex & Sierra. Shaw recently received the “Best Singer/songwriter” award at the 2017 San Diego Music Awards.
As he’s getting ready to go back on tour, Shaw offers his “Tuesday Taylor Guitar” every week where he showcases his guitar skills through outstanding performances.
“Shade 2.” is now available worldwide.
Could you tell us about your project Shades? What made you want to release it in several parts?
So. I am gradually releasing an EP called “Shades.” I’m releasing 3 batches of 2 songs each, hence, Shade 1, Shade 2… It will be available in physical form at shows once I finish releasing digitally. The reason I wanted to release like this was twofold. First, I wanted to experiment with different moods and production. Second, as a songwriter, my job is to convey the natural ebb and flow of life and emotions. There are different sides, colors, and shades to every human, and a songwriter’s work is to capture these differences. “Shades” is a collection of songs that takes a journey through some of the sides of me as an artist and songwriter; from the upbeat, fun moments of loving life, to the vulnerable, stripped back times of struggle. I also like that in today’s industry we can be creative with how we release and record music, so I thought releasing songs 2 at a time based on mood and vibe would be a cool idea.
Tell us about “Shade 2”. Who did you work with? What’s the story/inspiration behind these new records?
“Shade 2″ is my “moody, vulnerable, stripped back” installment. The tracks are only guitars/vocals, and I feel that they really have some truths and honesty. For this whole EP, I worked with producer Jesse Barrera out of San Diego. Incredibly talented guy. We recorded these 2 tracks and his first thought was “we can’t over-produce these.” I felt the same. Something about adding too much to these would cheapen these songs. I think that is the sign of a good producer, when they know NOT to touch something.
“Naked” (first track on Shade 2), is a song about imperfections. Or “perceived” imperfections. It’s social commentary about today’s hyper-perfect online world and how it makes us self-conscious of who we are. Every one of us has things that we may not like about ourselves. We compare our bodies, our personalities, and our life with the images that we see and stories that we are told online. I fall into it daily. This song is about loving ourselves for exactly who we are, physically, mentally, emotionally, chemically, spiritually.. It’s about cherishing those things that make us unique and different. They are not “imperfections,” but beautiful differences.
“Believe in Me” (track 2), is a song that began during a really rough night of doubts and insecurity about the future. The path of music is certainly not all sunshine and rainbows. It is amazing and fulfilling and extremely thrilling at times, but as an artist it is near impossible not to have those moments of crippling questioning and self-doubt about what’s to come, at every level. Luckily I have an amazing wife by my side to take the journey with, to support, to love, and to process through the hard times. She’s my biggest supporter.
I took the song idea to some of my favorite songwriters - Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman - in Nashville, and together crafted this song that I love so much. Writing this tune was a therapy session. It’s all about having someone by your side believing in you while you chase a dream.
What do you want people to feel when listening to these new songs?
I guess I just want people to know it’s authentic and comes from the heart. The songs are very personal and come from very real places and moments in my life. I hope that people can relate, and that it might be able to help them think critically about the issues the songs address.
You recently did your first tour in Europe. How’s life on the road? What did these experience teach you?
I am still riding the high from my tour in Europe! It was the perfect refresher - exactly what I needed. At almost every show I played in Europe (these were all independently booked), I had the crowd’s 100% attention. I’m not sure if this is because I am an American artist singing in English and just because I am “different,” but it was so nice to play for crowds that you could tell really appreciated the music and the art. People wanted to chat after every show; they wanted to know more about me. They bought CDs and followed me online. I wish I could say every show in the States is like that. It was really inspiring. I think what it taught me is that there is a market for my music far beyond just the United States, and that people in all parts of the world yearn for music that they can connect to and feel. And I love traveling so the more I can make it happen, the better!
What message do you want to convey through your music?
The main thing is positivity and authenticity. I want people to know that I come from a place of love and try to look at life on the brighter side, and try to inspire people to do the same.
Any upcoming projects besides the release of “Shade 2”?
I’ll release Shade 3 in another couple of months, then the full Shades. EP will be available to purchase at shows. I also have tons of new songs that I’ll be recording and may release a single or two later in the year.
What are your goals for 2018?
Tour lots more! Continue writing music daily. Continue to connect with fans and grow my online and show fanbase. Travel as much as I can. And most importantly, stay present and intentional so that the accomplishment of any goal actually means something.
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