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INTERVIEW: Shelita Burke

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

I feel very lucky, I am doing great!

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

It is hard to really say what the song is about but I will explain this line, “Once words are said, words are dead” and swim in the fragments of our memories.” I feel that in a world where we have access to so much information, it is hard to make sense out of all the noise, to differentiate between facts and fictions.

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

I found the inspiration for this song while I was sitting on the Paris subway going to meet someone I was dating at the time. I was going home and the subway suddenly stopped and we were trapped in the subway for a little more than 30 minutes but those 30 minutes felt like forever. There was no cell phone reception so I had no way of communicating, I just had to hope that the person would wait for me. I got out my guitar and wrote the whole song there.

Why naming the EP after this track in particular?

I feel that the song “Transfixed” is an easier song to connect to if you haven’t heard my work before.

How was the recording and writing process?

For the EP “Transfixed” I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with the talented Polish producer Marcin Ciszczon. Every element of the album was meticulously recorded by me in Paris, France and the Diffusion Lab in Dublin, Ireland with Ciszczon. Before there is a song, there is a feeling and something that has happened in my life ­ but something I suspect is universal. I hope that my words can help other people relate and my words can become their words. Sometimes while I’m in a cafe, I’m inspired by my environment and the notes from the sounds of the coffee machine ­ or anything else ­ and then I write a song based on those notes I hear.

How has Seattle have influence your music?

I wrote my first songs in Seattle, where the city is full of talented musicians. Growing up in an environment like that you feel this pressure to really study and practice. I will always continue to study and practice and maybe by the time I’m 85 I’ll be something great. When I play shows in Seattle, I feel a little intimidated at first because I know that 75% of the audience are musicians as well, so if I mess up there is no way to hide it! This just inspires me to work harder and not get too comfortable.

What is it the thing that you love about Folk and Jazz and how did you fall in love with these genres?

What I love about folk music is that it lyrically (literally) tells stories. I love that Jazz gives me so much freedom to explore my stories with notes through melody. During a trip to Ocean Shores, Washington, my uncle Kenneth gave me my first CD player. I was 11 years old and it was the first time I got to choose the music I listened to. I would go to the thrift stores in downtown Seattle that had $1 used CDs and buy 20 random ones at a time and listen to one album after another. Some were amazing and some of them I didn’t like, but that’s how I got exposed to artists like Joni Mitchell, Charles Mingus and Nick Drake. I still tend to explore all kinds of music, and I hope this experimental listening approach comes across in my songwriting today.

How was the transition from Metal to Folk?

It was really a transition between Metal and jazz, the “folk” aspect came later. I found myself trying out metal because it felt like a great outlet for the expressive things I was trying to say, but I felt that I needed to expand beyond that and grow as a musician and the world of jazz in a lot of ways found me.

What have you learned from your experiences touring around pretty much the world?

I tour quite a bit for my music. And everywhere I go, I find I have to start the same process to learn about local artistic communities and resources. I’d really like to help expand and develop a series of online resources providing insight in each city about what infrastructure already exists for musicians, and what can be worked on. That’s for later, though. Right now, I’m just focusing on my music.

Any plans to hit the road?

I am currently on tour now, this year I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles, Florida, Boston, New York City and in March I’ll be in Seattle, Portland and Austin. I plan to tour more and more. I’ve made inroads in Europe, Asia and Africa, and I hope to continue expanding the scope of destinations. I consider my past attempts as pebbles in the water, and I want the ripple effect to reach all the places I haven’t yet been. Someday, I’ll have been everywhere, and the only places left to go will be off­planet. That probably won’t be for another few years, though…

What else is happening next in Shelita Burke’s world?

I am going back to Paris in April to record my next EP, the date I am going to release it will be a surprise so stayed tuned!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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