Shawny is an up-and-coming children's musician from Montreal, who writes songs that are just as meaningful as they are fun!
Shawny might be relatively new to the children's music scene, but he's shaking things up with his unique sounds and relatable song lyrics. His kind heart and love of music shines through in each of his songs. His music includes themes of self-love and kindness and silly topics like hiccups and octopuses. I had a ton of fun getting to know Shawny and I can't wait to hear more of his one of a kind music!
My favourite song in your repertoire is Hiccups are Forever. It's so much fun! Where did the idea for this particular song come from?
Thanks, Beppie! You're too kind! I have a soft spot for this song because it was the first song I wrote after the pandemic hit. I must give credit where credit is due. My fiancé, Julie, suggested I write a song about the hiccups while I was initially brainstorming ideas for children's music I might want to write. I was instantly inspired to pick up my guitar and ended up spending the afternoon making hiccup sounds and laughing hysterically to myself. It was such a nice distraction from how scary the world was at that time. While writing it, I also remembered a time as a child when I had hiccups for a VERY long time and how anxious and annoyed it made me. I thought they would never go away! I've since met quite a few kids who feel the same way. It's always surreal for me to see kids at live shows making hiccups and laughing right back at me, since when I wrote it I had no idea if anyone else would ever hear it.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Do you write songs by yourself or with a team, and do you ever end up scrapping or setting aside songs that you've written?
I mostly write children's music by myself. It's not because I don't like collaborating with people or I'm super controlling or anything, it just so happens to be a solitary exercise for me. I think the reason I've written alone is that in the beginning I didn't know any other children's musicians and no one around me was writing music for kids. It became such a personal project for me. The only sounding board I had were my music students, who would immediately let me know if a song worked or not. Now that I've had the chance to meet so many wonderful, talented, and generous children's artists, I would like to jam and write with other people more. I think it would be a lot of fun and creatively fulfilling!
As for my writing process, I wouldn't say I approach every song the same or that every song comes from a similar source. I mostly start with a catchy melody that I think kids would latch onto and go from there or I'll start with a topic that inspires me. Inspiration usually comes from two places: my own childhood and/or from the kids that I get the chance to meet. I'm naturally a HUGE goofball and a big kid at heart. I vividly remember my childhood and I try my best to remember how I felt back then and the things that I found important, funny, or moving. For example, my song "I Love Me (L.O.V.E)" was inspired by a young student I had who often was very hard on themselves and didn't think they were good at anything, which is how I felt about myself and is still something I sometimes struggle with as an adult. I wanted to write a song that kids could use to practice positive self-talk, which I wish I had done more of when I was younger.
Do I scrap any of my songs? Oh yes! I'd say the mass majority of my songs don't see the light of day. I like to write a lot and see what sticks. If a song gets stuck in my head, I then try it out with an audience. After that, It's pretty clear what works and what doesn't work. Kids are the absolute best audience you can have as a performer. You'll know pretty quickly if they aren't interested. On the plus side, they'll also REALLY let you know when they do like a song.
What is your favourite and least favourite part about being a children's "edu-tainer"?
In all honesty, and this may sound like a cop out, but I really love what I do. In terms of educating and entertaining, I don't think there is much that I don't like. I've spent many years working as a teacher, and I've spent many years playing as a musician; this is the best of both worlds for me. There are not many places where you can be supremely silly at your place of work. If I had to pick a favourite part it would be live performing. There is no bigger thrill for me than engaging kids in person. Recording music and making Youtube videos is fun too, but nothing beats that connection you get from a live show. When everyone is singing, dancing, and laughing with me, I get such a warm, fuzzy feeling.
If I have to name a least favourite aspect, it's how susceptible you are to getting sick. I've worked with kids for 15 years now, and for whatever reason my immune system hasn't strengthened all that much. I've been lucky to so far have only gotten sick twice this year, but in the past, it was more like 10 or 12 times. It's partly my fault for interacting with so many children in any given week. That said, it's totally worth it.
I'm excited for your first EP to be released! When can we expect this to come out and do you have a theme for the project?
I'm excited too! This is my first EP I've ever released, which has been a long time dream of mine. Everything is recorded, mixed, and mastered and it's titled It's So Sunny! I'm just working on the marketing aspect of it now but I'm hoping to have it out earliest by the summer. It will feature my previous singles, as well as two other unreleased tracks.
All of the songs were written during the first two years of the pandemic, so I believe that was an influence on the music. The isolation and fear of that time had a profound effect on everyone's mental health and ability to make connections with others. I know it personally had a negative effect on my anxiety and I saw this in many of my students too. With all this in mind, the two underlying themes of the EP are "showing kindness" and "acceptance."
On, "Ollie Ollie Octopus" showing kindness means lending your time and a helping hand (in Ollie's case, eight tentacles) to strengthen your community. On "I Love Me (L.O.V.E)" it means being as kind to yourself as you are to other people. Like kindness, acceptance needs to be practiced and the first and hardest step is letting go and embracing the hardships in your own life. Maybe that comes in the form of a never-ending case of the hiccups like on "Hiccups Are Forever," or feelings of despair that make everything around you that much greyer and bleak on "The Day The Colours Went Away." Thankfully with patience, time, and hope, the clouds will part and the sun will shine again.
How many instruments do you play?
I primarily sing and play guitar and ukulele. I did, however, play some bass and xylophone on the EP, albeit I kept it simple cause I'm hardly a virtuoso. I've always wanted to get better at drums, despite not being the most coordinated of people.
My kids want to know, are hiccups really forever?!
That's a great question! In a way, they always come back, so you could say they are forever. I still get them from time to time. Although, like the song says they also never truly stay. They are just a small inconvenience that we have in our everyday life. That said, ever since writing that song, I've come to love them. They are just so funny sounding!