Shane Beales has been surrounded by music his entire life. Shane was born in the UK but moved to Australia before the age of one, but continued to spend time in both countries while he was growing up. His Grandfather was an organist and conductor as well as being a music master at Harrow. His Grandmother was a violinist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, his siblings and his Mum are also musical too. “It's in the blood, honestly! I think when I was growing up, I wanted to emulate my family.” He has certainly followed in their footsteps, having written his first song aged 8, Shane started playing the drums when he was 12 and has never looked back.
As a teenager he moved from Melbourne to Colchester and it was this
experience which really cemented his passion for song writing. Whilst awaiting his beloved drum kit to be shipped from Australia Shane began to play his Grandmas piano and started to write songs as a means of coping with his new life in the UK. Shane tells me “having that time without friends and the isolation gave me the chance to delve quite deep, play some guitar, some piano and really discover that it was something I really enjoyed and wanted to pursue.” After leaving school he studied at LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) specialising in song writing and performance. During this time he was lucky enough to have a one to one master class with Paul McCartney who Shane says “gave some positive feedback and has been really supportive.”
I ask Shane what he enjoys most about writing, he explains - “I have a real strong love for creativity. The quest to create is what is most inspiring. To keep innovating and creating.” Part of this creative process involved the ambitious Project 52 which Shane embarked on after graduating. He set himself a challenge of writing and recording a song a week for a year. Project 52 forced him to think outside the box with his writing. “The challenge of keeping it fresh and keeping it going made me experiment with different ways of writing.” Shane has considered writing for other artists too citing collaboration as very important to him. Having listened to his work, this is a very exciting prospect! A New Year is an uplifting song that could have easily been recorded by the likes of The Killers or The Stereophonics. The Crunch from the EP Heavy Clouds is an indie rock anthem which deserves some serious airplay for its great riffs and powerful rock vocals.
By refusing to compromise his creativity Shane has been able to draw on inspirations from life and society to write in different styles and genres. His current EP Time was inspired by “contemplating relationships that have passed or people that we had in our lives for a period of time but who are no longer there. There are things that have happened personally but also broad themes that people can connect with as well.” Time is a beautifully crafted song that is intimate and understated “its the song that the whole EP is built around. It didn't belong on an album it needed it's own project because it's quite a weighty song it needed it's own space.” Signal demonstrates a rockier edge and is a great contrast to the more sensitive tracks on the EP like Blackbird which is an original and moving song. Like much of Shane’s work Time is multi-layered and requires more than one listen to really un-pick the musical and lyrical elements that are present.
Shane grew up listening to alternative music such as Radiohead and more recently Bon Ivor. He has absorbed this alternative sound when making Time. He explains,“what was important for me when doing the EP was going for quite an organic sound, so we did it live in one take playing all the instruments together in the studio.” Of course this is quite a brave and risky strategy in the modern hi-tech world, but something that was standard practice for older artists. He continues, “we were looking for an overall feel, an atmosphere rather than being too precise and digitised, because nowadays everything is very controlled and measured, even to the millisecond, which can be really good but you can also forget what it is like to just play some music.”
Playing music is what Shane does best. He writes songs like all the best songwriters do, from the heart. His music can be both melancholic and beautifully uplifting. His truthful lyrics are reminiscent of traditional songwriters who have a message to convey and an art to express.
I caught up with Shane again in London at the launch of Time and am reminded of his similarity to Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright and Snow Patrol in the use of unusual time signatures and chord progressions. Just when you expect the music to go one way, it shifts to another level. His voice has a raw but melodic unsanitised sound, indicative of the indie genre. He has good range as a singer which he uses to great effect: When he hits the high notes he has the ability to rip your heart out and quickly mend it again. When he sings in his softer lower register it feels as though he is singing just for you, which is an amazing quality for a singer. He pours his heart and soul into his music and when he performs on-stage he becomes the music. Like all good songwriters they are profound storytellers through music and lyrics, this is something that Shane Beales has mastered with his mature song writing. A true talent.