Cal Poly music senior Shane Williamson is a newly California based singer-songwriter and pianist that has just started his journey in the music world.
Williamson released his debut single “Take Me Home” last year and has taken time off from writing to really find out who he is as an artist. Since the single’s release, I had the opportunity to speak with Williamson about his music and what his fans should look forward to in the near future.
Crespin: Tell me a little about yourself as an artist? Who is Shane Williamson?
Williamson: For me as an artist, I am an extension of my music and music is an extension of my life … It’s not an escape or a place to get away, which I feel a lot of people and artists think music is.
For me, I approach music in a way to show how I am feeling … It’s more of a translation of my feelings that I cannot put into words or emotions [and] I don’t want to put into words. If there is something bothering me that I just can’t put into words, I[‘d] rather not deal with it in a more traditional sense. I[‘d] rather just make music about it to show those emotions. It really has driven me to write music and to appreciate the music I make more.
Crespin: Apart from being “Shane Williamson the artist,” tell me about who you are as a person.
Williamson: I am a complete nerd! I like video games; I like Pokémon; I like to draw; and I love anime. That’s my s**t! My whole life I have always just been that person who doesn’t really care what other people think. I just do what I want to do. I feel that it’s a more effective way of building relationships and people respect you for doing what you want to do. I never let people’s judgments affect me in any way … because I’ve never been one to just satisfy other people because they want me to act a certain way.
Crespin: So, you’re originally from Chicago. Do you pull any of your influence from your home into your music?
Williamson: Growing up in Chicago, you definitely grew up listening to certain artists, which are a lot different than people who grew up in somewhere like California. Obviously, Kanye comes to mind, who’s one of my favorite artists. I’m not saying that my music is anything like his, but it is the attitude a lot of “Chicagoan” artists have is what I want.
You look at artists like Kanye, or even Chance the Rapper, and they just don’t care about what other people think of them or their music. They’re going to do what they want to do and not just make music to satisfy people. They make music for them. That is a huge part of Chicago culture that I put into my music.
Crespin: If you had to put your music into a certain genre, what would you say it would be?
Williamson: It would have to be alternative pop, maybe leaning a little more towards the pop side. I definitely think that I tend to go toward a Coldplay type of sound, with a lot of suspension chords and things like that. But I also have some stuff that is more Tom Yorke of RadioHead, that’s more on the alternative side and not too traditional.
Crespin: It’s been about a year since the release of your debut single, how do you feel about it now?
Williamson: I definitely look back and the first thing I notice is how the song was definitely a song that can be more easily “digested” by listeners. It was a good song to just dip my toes into the water and see what worked as well as what didn’t. Since then I’m still really happy with the song because to me it’s still a really good song.
I have been writing a lot since its release and have matured a little, so I’m writing from a different place now. The content is still relatable to me and the emotions and thoughts behind it will always be relevant to me, but stylistically I think I’ve definitely evolved.
Crespin: Looking forward now, where do you see yourself going as an artist?
Williamson: I really don’t know man. I don’t want this to turn into a hustle – “I gotta make this my career or put everything into this” because I don’t want music to become a burden or stresser. At this point, I’m just going with the flow. When a song comes to my head I’m going to write it down, record it and then just go from there.
Crespin: Are there some things you want to change in your music?
Williamson: In all honesty, not really. I just want to show people that myself and my music don’t belong in a mold. I just want to inspire people to think critically and to go at it from a different perspective.
Crespin: So what have you been working on since you released your single?
Williamson: I think my career has taken a lot of time from writing and producing, so it’s definitely taken a backseat in my life. I’ve been tweaking some songs I’ve been working on for awhile and trying to get them to be perfect. I feel no sense to rush that, so once I get them perfect and ready to release, then I put them out there.
Crespin: Under the uncertain circumstances that we have been living in, COVID-19 and the protests going on all over the country, do you think it has helped or changed how you are writing or influenced your music in any way?
Williamson: For sure it has! Before everything went down I was in a lull and had some writer’s block. When everything started popping off, I was in a not okay state of mind.
I remember a day back in June where I broke down and cried. I was thinking about the number of people in the world who are suffering and it really broke me. It’s this weird thing where all these horrible things are going on in the world and it gave me a reason to write.
I think a lot of artists would agree that you need these things to inspire you, but it sucks because you never want it to go like this. As an artist you want the world to give you inspiration, but you’d never imagine it would happen like it has.
Crespin: How long did it take you to write, record and release your single?
Williamson: In all honesty I wrote that song in a day. It’s funny how the songs that I keep around are the ones I write really quickly. The song[s] that I tend to think about too much really never comes to fruition and I think it’s really ironic.
It took me a day to write the lyrics. I dusted up the chords for about a week and didn’t record it until a couple months later. I never really tweaked anything in the time between writing and recording. In total probably about three months.
Crespin: Do you have any goals for yourself, or as an artist, in the next coming months or even years?
Williamson: Definitely to put more stuff out there. I know I’ve said I don’t like to have that pressure on myself … but I definitely think that I need to put more time into finishing my products. I have a ton of songs that are unfinished and just need to be tweaked. Those songs can definitely be recorded after being tweaked and then mixed so they can be released. Overall, I just want to put more stuff out there for people to hear.
Crespin: Can you tell me the struggles of what it means to be a student and an artist?
Williamson: As a music student, when I sit down at my piano, I found that sometimes I think to myself “oh I have music homework to do,” so I need to practice that rather than write my own stuff. It definitely takes away, free time I have to record.
Admittedly, there are times when I do have the time but I rather potato on the couch for a couple of hours, which is definitely a “me” problem. I think a ton of student artists can relate because after class, and if you also have a job on the side, you use all your mental bandwidth on your those things and when you come home you just want to crash.
Crespin: Do you think being a music major has helped you with your music or do you think it has caused a little bit of a regress?
Williamson: It weirdly enough has caused a regress. There is a weird feeling where now music has become a little more of a chore. It doesn’t help when you are going to work on your music, but it feels too similar to a homework assignment. I know that’s not the case, but it definitely has become to feel that way sometimes. I’m looking forward to graduating and doing music on my own time as well as not having it forced upon me.
Crespin: Lastly, is there anything you want to tell your fans and listeners?
Williamson: Just like stop hating. Stop hating other people, love everyone and respect everyone. That’s what it is. Just listen to music and don’t be a dick.