Damnation Magazine: Thank you, Snowy for taking the time to sit and answer some questions for us.
Snowy Shaw: Nemas prob, it’s my pleasure.
DM: The new album, White is the New Black, is phenomenal. How does it feel to finally have a proper Snowy Shaw album out, and how has the response been so far?
SS: Thank you. It feels absolutely wonderful, especially since I’ve followed my heart all the way through without compromise and basically went against all norms and conventions and did everything for myself exactly the way I wanted. Then judge by my surprise, when so many others seem to have such fabulously good taste that matches that of mine. Hahaha!
So far, the album has gotten nothing but top notch reviews and stellar response everywhere around the world. And, it’s really an overwhelming feeling. I couldn’t possibly be any happier. Well, at a second thought, maybe if every household in the whole wide world would own a copy of it, I’d be over the moon. So shop away and save a suffering artist’s soul (www.snowyshaw.net/webshop).
I’m just immensely grateful and glad. I think the least good I’ve gotten was 7.5 out of 10 in Sweden Rock Magazine, which is by no means a bad ranking, as the bulk of all new albums land around 5 (of 10) with all them hard-to-please critics. But, the way I figure, it comes down to the old proverb “You can’t be a prophet in your own hometown.”
DM: How did you approach this solo effort differently than the Notre Dame material?
SS: Hmm, who said I did? I suppose I have matured and grown a bit as a musician and songwriter, producer, singer and so on over the past 15-20 years, but I can’t say I knowingly approached it much differently. As always I do what I like, and while doing so I will do all in my power to reach as close as possible to my initial idea that I envisioned.
DM: We’ve seen you call this a “greatest hits in reverse” album; could you explain that concept and how it came about?
SS: Let’s say it’s more of a collection of songs, like a preview of what’s to come with a total 12 songs, where two songs each, are representing six different albums. Each has its own individual concept and musical direction and sound that I’ve been writing and working on over the years. The thing is that it’s certainly no coincidence that I’ve worked with so many bands with music styles varying from black metal to glam rock and everything in between. I like it all, and yet I’m extremely picky and specific about music in general. It’s just that the only distinction I make is between good music and bad music, and personally I don’t really care about belonging to any specific subgenre or categorization. I thrive on diversity; and I’ve noticed that I tend to grow tired and lose interest before too long if I only get to have one outlet and express one kind of emotion and attitude. That’s also why I have in my life routinely worked with at least two bands of different and contrasting styles to keep a healthy balance. Like for example, Dream Evil and Notre Dame, or earlier on Memento Mori, Illwill, and Mercyful Fate simultaneously. I’ve often felt that, as a songwriter, I feel a need to write. Many years ago, when I repeatedly kept facing the same dilemma, I remember saying that it would be ideal for me to have three to four different bands/projects on my own running parallel as separate platforms, where I could go all in and create those individual little worlds without having to worry about the how the different styles wouldn’t gel well together and only give a very scattered ambivalent impression. I like to keep it homogenic, and each album/concept should be its own entity with its own unique identity in sound and scope, etc.
So, when I eventually reached the point where I should pursue my solo career, I opted to allow myself complete artistic freedom and not limit myself to do only one of those music styles and directions. I took it upon myself to create that kind of situation I had longed for as an ART-IST, which also meant that I had to found my own record & production company, Wunderwurld, and be 100% independent.
DM: Do you find working with so many bands has given you a wider stylistic skill-set to pull from when creating your own music?
SS: Maybe, never thought of it like that really. I’d say it’s more the other way around. I have a pretty wide range of musical influences to begin with, which has been useful and come in handy when I have chosen to involve myself with all those various bands or projects. For instance, with Dream Evil, which was a little too fluffy mid 80s melodic hard rock for my taste, normally I could use my influences of Scorpions, Y&T, Accept, and, to some extent, Manowar, when writing. Influences that would not necessarily be handy as I was writing for Notre Dame for example, where it was more 70s Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Type O Negative and horror film score that certainly had no place in Dream Evil.
With XXX, I was able to have an outlet for my big penchant for the 70s British Glam and Glitter Rock scene and to some extent the Punk movement. A set of influences and references that would have absolutely no place when writing for Therion that required a much more pompous and symphonic approach. Needless to say, always doing it on my own terms and in my own way but, I guess you see what I’m trying to say, right?
I’m not saying that I haven’t learned a hell of a lot from my involvement with all these bands, but my music taste and skill-set hasn’t changed or been altered significantly I think. I’ve just done it on my own terms and to the best of my ability.
DM: Your videos, as well as your live performances, are very theatrical. How important are visuals to you in music?
SS: I grew up with KISS… and that pretty much says it all I think.
Hadn’t they had that phenomenal image and presented themselves so outer-worldly, fabulously, and let’s say looked like the guys in Budgie, I seriously doubt I would ever had cared for their music in the first place. I’ve always been fascinated and equally attracted to bands and artists with a strong identity and visual impact. I think of it as the whole package where what you hear and what you see gotta go hand in hand. In the best of worlds I see it as portraying the images and visions in your music visually, like theatre almost.
DM: For the album release party, you live streamed from your home instead of a traditional concert in a club. Where did that idea come from and, for those of us who watched it, how often do you keep men tied up in your basement?
SS: Hahaha! Not so rarely I’d say. I could tell you, but, then again, I would have to kill you afterwards. What you saw was just my former manager, who did the big mistake of thinking he could fuck me over and rip me off, and I had to teach him a lesson. I’m a firm believer in the fact that a society can never function without palpable consequences and punishment. True dat, but on a more serious note, this was just a joke we played for the live stream where my good friend and film guy volunteered to be tied up in my seedy basement.
When it came to throwing a release party for the album I figured why not make it a more special, personal, and intimate event altogether. After all these years, I have obtained fans from all over the world. So, why would I exclude them all by just pulling together something in a local rock club and invite a couple of hundred friends, fans, and business people when I could potentially reach out to hundreds of thousands from every corner of the world via internet. It was also a big ass operation that demanded meticulous planning and preparations. I hired a professional film team, and we rigged overview cameras in several of my house’s rooms, and the penthouse/attic would serve as the main ballroom for the event, and I invited tons of friends and colleagues from the area. This must have been the first ever of its kind in any sort rock or metal context, and it was tricky as fuck to market the kind of groundbreaking event as basically no one could comprehend what the hell it was as they had never seen anything like it before. Story of my life, huh? Yet on the night of the event we had thousands upon thousands of viewers who watched this live from more than 45 countries. So I guess you can say it was a formidable success. Check it out on my official Youtube page, where I recently posted a 50 minute long version (below) with glimpses from the 3 hour long live broadcasting.
DM: Do you have any plans to tour in support of the album?
SS: I’ll be doing a string of Halloween event shows in Sweden in a couple of weeks, and possibly a few shows in France, Holland and Belgium in December. Unfortunately, the planned month long European tour got cancelled just recently. It’s so much hassle with arranging these type of shows since my stage show and production requires a little bigger stages, and I’ve turned down so many offers from all over the world as I’m not really willing to compromise my show by playing pizzerias, bars, and stuff and not giving it justice. I feel that would be unfair, and the last thing I want is to disappoint both the fans and myself by not living up to the expectations.
DM: How have you been able to stay so driven and productive in your career?
SS: Good question. As a creative artist I think it’s essential to never stop being curious and moving forward, in order to maintain the passion and lustfulness. Keep that child inside alive. I’ve been able to do so, because I’ve never been afraid to take on new challenges and follow the path wherever my heart leads me, I think.
Despite having already done so much, I suppose I still think somehow that the best is yet to come, and I’m far from having yet reached my full potential. I’m driven by my desire of expressing myself creatively, and I still have so many dreams to accomplish in my endless search for happiness.
DM: Thank you for talking to us, is there anything else you’d like to add about the album or any other upcoming projects?
SS: It’s me who should thank you people for having me. I plan to finally get to it to shoot the last of the six videos I had planned for the album, which is “Gothicburg Bridge/ Is this my destiny?” We had the best summer in like 250 years in Sweden and Europe so the normally depressive, rainy, and grey bleakness in Gothenburg was nowhere to be found, and consequently I had to postpone the shooting til it went back to normal.
Apart from that, as soon as I can find the time, I’ll go into recording mode and intend to work with material for three separate albums in parallel to get that kind of diversity I mentioned earlier. And yes, I’ll be finishing up my autobiographical book that I’ve been writing off and on for 10 years now, and I expect to publish it next year.