Road Warrior, Lover

Photo by Jonathan Russell

When I listen to Shannon Curtis’s music it makes me want to run and kiss my girlfriend in the pouring rain as I swing her around time and time again (in slow motion of course). It may sound cheesy, yes, but this piano playing singer/songwriter writes incredible love songs, the kind that make it easy to daydream you’re in a dramatic scene from a late ’90s chick flick. Shannon’s most recent EP, Paris Can’t Have You, is her second release in just nine months on Saint Cloud Records, which according to their Web site is, “the smallest record label in the world.” Small label, big voice, I say. Shannon was midst of a two-month tour across the nation that will land her in Sacramento on Apr. 28 when she performed at the True Love Coffeehouse. She was nice enough to take some time out of her rigorous schedule to talk to Submerge about the ups and downs of touring so much, love, and what the future holds for this pop-star in waiting.

First off, where are you now and how has the tour been thus far?
That’s an excellent question and one that some days I’m not entirely sure of! It’s easy for me to lose track of time and space when on the road [laughs]. But today I’m fairly certain that we’re on our way to St. Louis, MO. The tour’s been really fun so far. I’ve gotten to play in some new cities like New York and Washington DC. And the cities I’ve been to before have been really fun, too, because the crowds are super enthusiastic.

You seem to be quite the road warrior. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of touring?
One of the best things about touring is that I get to see fans all over the country face to face and play for them in person. That’s really what motivates me to tour as much as I do. But I do also enjoy seeing new and different places. And it’s fun to get to know cities that I don’t live in since I have the opportunity to visit them so often. Like I have my favorite pizza place in Chicago and my favorite coffee joint in Seattle. Every time I go back to a city, the more it feels like an extension of “home.”

Not actually being at my home is one of the downsides of touring, but I really do appreciate being there once I get back. The long drives in between tour stops can get hard, too. But I spend a lot of time listening to NPR—Robert Siegel and Michelle Norris of All Things Considered are like best friends to me out here!

The five songs that make up your new EP, Paris Can’t Have You, are bursting with emotion. Where do you find the inspiration to write such mature love songs?
Ah, I’m just a melodramatic at heart—a sap, probably. I don’t write much else but love songs. Sometimes the inspiration comes from my own life and relationship experiences, but sometimes they come from elsewhere. On this record, there’s one song that I wrote after hearing a friend of mine tell me over lunch about a less than desirable situation she found herself in with a fella. And there is another song that was inspired by a headline on a magazine at a grocery store check out line.

In the song Don’t Call Me, you sing, “Don’t ask me to come over when you can’t sleep at night, I’m not looking for a good time, I’m looking for the love of my life.” So, How is the search going so far?
[Laughs] Thanks for checking in. Yeah, you know, I’ve got a pretty excellent fella in my life. “Don’t Call Me” is actually the song I just mentioned writing for my girlfriend. But I’ve known guys like that, too. I imagine most girls have. So it’s easy to really feel that song when I play it.

You are a native of Sacramento, correct? What drove you to your current residence in Los Angeles?
Sacramento is actually my adopted hometown. I was born and raised in Stockton, went to college in San Francisco, but I lived in Sacramento for several years before moving to Los Angeles. Both of my parents live in the Sacramento area now and all of my friends are there, so, essentially, it’s home. After some pretty jarring personal changes a few years ago, I decided I wanted a new town, and I picked Los Angeles, even though I didn’t know a soul there when I went. I’ve always sort of liked it there when I’ve visited. I know, that totally flies in the face of the attitude I’m supposed to have about southern California, being a native of Nor-Cal. But I’m really enjoying it. There are a bunch of people doing creative things there. It’s great energy to be around. And, frankly, being able to wear flip-flops in January isn’t a terrible thing!

Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you hoping to accomplish with all of this?
Aw, man! The five-year question! I don’t know why I’ve always shied away from that question. Maybe it’s because I’ve found that it’s really important for me to live one day at a time. That said, I hope that in five years I’ll be doing what makes the most sense to be doing each day—like I try to do now. And I hope that will still involve writing, recording, and performing music. It seems that the more I spend time doing things that are true to myself the more success I experience in what I do. Right now, playing the piano and singing love songs is really comfortable and fun and very “me.” It would be great to have that same sense five years from now, too.

Do you plan on ever putting that pre-med biology degree to work?
Uh, no, I don’t think so. Aside from acting like a smart-ass when I’m able to answer the occasional Trivial Pursuit science question!

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