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INTERVIEW: Sharon Knight

Hi Sharon, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi Vents! I have been just fine, thanks! Just played at a spectacular festival, Caldera Pagan Music festival in LaFayette, GA, and many of our musicians friends were there, so it was a grand time!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Porcelain Princess”?

Sure! It’s the story of a marionette, in love with her puppet master. If only he would return her love, she would crack her porcelain skin and come to life, a true flesh and blood girl, with a beating heart and a flush in her cheeks. It deals with feelings of invisibility, of yearning to be more fully alive, and yet feeling shut out. We all get that feeling sometimes, that we are outside of our true lives, looking in, but not able to find the door. Many things can open us, such as love, a sense of purpose, an ordeal that reveals the resilience within, but it can take time to find our way to a sense of fulfillment in life.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Not so much a specific event, but I am no stranger to the feeling of being outside of life looking in, of feeling an outsider and afraid I won’t find my place in the world. I wrote this song in the first year I had decided to try making a living as a professional musician, and was staying in the home of another musician I had just met as part of a festival I was playing. So many of the musicians at the festival were friends already, very tight-knit. So I suppose I did feel a bit of yearning as “the new kid” at that time. Still very unsure as to whether I would be accepted or able to succeed.  I am glad to report, these musicians are very close friends now! In fact, the cellist in Porcelain Princess, Betsy Tinney, is the person I was staying with as I wrote the song.

How was the film experience?

It was really, really fun! And suprisingly smooth! Things we had planned would not work out, and then the thing that did work out was so much better than what we had planned. We got really lucky! Finding our porcelain princess, for example, was completely by accident. I had first been put in touch with Bunny Holmes as a possible venue source, as she runs a circus out of her house, a warehouse in Oakland, CA. That didn’t work out but in the course of exploring, it became apparent that she would be the perfect porcelain princess. Costumes fell together almost effortlessly. The whole thing seemed very fortuitous! And a bunch of our friends chipped in to be our audience, and they played their parts with aplomb! I can hardly wait to make another!

The single comes off your new album Portals – what’s the story behind the title?

We wanted to create something that had the feel of life on the road, a travelling carnival of magic-weilding performers. We all play at these mythic, otherworld- themed festivals, and sit in on each others’ sets when we can, which gives each show a unique flavor. Different combinations of musicians open up different portals, as it were, making each show more than the sum of its parts. We have featured several of our touring musician friends on Portals, and each of them adds their own brand of magic to the project, so it really does feel like different windows are opened depending on which combination of musicians is featured.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was actually pretty stressful. This was the first time we have ever crowdfunded a recording project, and managing a crowdfunding campaign, fulfilling perks, and keeping in touch with donors while organizing a video, writing songs, coordinating guest musicians, and designing a 20-page lyric booklet and album art for the CD, all in time for summer touring season, was quite a workload! We barely made it, and I am still fulfilling perks!

What role does San Francisco plays in your music?

None, really. Although I am proud to have filmed the video at SF Oasis, a notable drag club. That is quntessentially San Francisco, and was a good fit for our quirkiness. Aside from that though, I wouldn’t say that the album is specifically connected to San Francisco. It’s just where we live. And more and more, we identify with living on the road more than any particular place.

How much did fairy tales and folklore get to inspire the songs and lyrics on this record?

Oh, a lot! I pretty much live in fairy tales and folk lore! Always have. We even describe our music as “Mythpunk”.

Any classic story in particular tends to influence your music the most?

Oh boy. Good question! I can’t say a specific story comes to mind. I have loved so many of them! But a recurring theme, and certainly appropriate to our current album, is the idea of unseen portals that open up in cracks in the world, to realms of wonder and magic. A crack in a stone becomes the entrance to the realms of faery. An archway between two trees reveals a gate to the Underworld. I am endlessly fascinated with the idea that there is more to this world than meets the eye, and if we just remember to look, we can slip through to places of mystery and magic.

Speaking of Folk, can you tell us more about your sound and how did that come about?

I learned music by learning Celtic folk songs. Bands like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Robin Williamson, Planxty, Pentangle, really captivated me. I loved the melancholy and soulful yearning I heard in these songs. Winter brings the bluesy rock element to the music, which I have adopted as well over the years. Even now that I’ve branched out into more original material, the Celtic influence stays with the songs.

Any plans to hit the road?

Oh yes! As of this writing, we have been on the road for 5 weeks, and we won’t return home until September. I plan to just keep on booking shows, playing music is the way I crack my own porcelain skin and come fully alive! Folks can find our tour schedule at www.sharonknight.net/tour/.  When we are in your area, please come say hi!

What else is happening next in Sharon Knight’s world?

For the foreseeable future, touring, touring, touring! One thing of note is that we produce our own music festival in Northern California at the end of September, called Hexenfest. We’ll be playing, as well as our full band, Pandemonaeon, and we are bringing SJ Tucker and Wendy Rule, both of whom were featured on Portals, out to join us as well. Info for this can be found at www.hexenfest.net. After this we head right back out on the road again! I will keep booking shows until we need a break. I don’t know when that will be, but it won’t be anytime soon!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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