Interview: Heather Shannon of The Jezebels

The Jezebels

With 2013 being a huge year for Sydney indie-popsters The Jezebels, and with their sophomore album The Brink landing January 31, 2014 is only going to be bigger. When Vulture caught up with The Jezebels’ keyboardist Heather Shannon, the Byron Bay born musician was taking a well deserved break at home for the holidays.

When we caught up, The Jezebels had just come off a tour with supporting Depeche Mode in the UK.

“[It] was a really awesome experience … we played to 20,000 people in one of the arenas and it was very mind blowing. Big challenge as well, but I think it was really awesome to see a show on that scale, just the amount of work that goes into it, and how big the production was was pretty cool,” says Shannon.

Depeche Mode, along with The Pixies let The Jezebels wrap up 2013 with “two of the best support gigs ever”, as Shannon puts it.

After filling these two massive-deal support slots, The Jezebels’ next adventure is the release and tour for their very own offering, The Brink. Due for release on January 31, the same day as the first show of the Laneway Festival, in Singapore, The Jezabels have a non-stop year ahead.

“That’s our first show of the year, then we go back, after the Laneway Festival, we go back and tour the UK and Europe, then America, and then we come back and do some touring here, and that brings us up to May-June, and then I think we sort of see what happens after that,” Shannon says.

The Brink was recorded in the English winter in a rehearsal studio in North London. Shannon said that the band “wanted to find a place that was sort of our own, away from everything.” The rehearsal space, which was “in the North of London and … underneath an old viaduct”, was were Shannon and the rest of the band would go every day during February “just the four of us, kind of like jamming and writing in our own time. It felt really collaborative and equal.”

Although The Jezebels are only a little over seven years old, Shannon has been playing keys for much longer. After attending the University of Sydney “at the Conservatorium for a classical degree”, so we are told, Shannon met The Jezebels’ singer and lyricist Hayley Mary. With over 20 years of keys under her belt, in an alternate universe Shannon would still be involved with music if The Jezebels had never formed, although a very different sort.

As far as instruments go, keys aren’t exactly a cheap or easy instrument to build up a collection of. Shannon said that she would “love to get more instruments, but it’s a very expensive hobby, you need $4000 just to buy one.”

She moved to uni with “an 88 key Yamaha keyboard, to practice on while I was at uni, because I didn’t have a piano, and it’s sort of a keyboard that you get to imitate a piano really, and that was the only instrument I had so I started playing with that with the band. For the last five years I’ve been saying ‘oh my god this is going to die, this is going to fail’ and it’s still going after 16 years, so it’s pretty amazing.”

Shannon is taking a break in Australia until the touring starts for The Brink at the end of January, after spending Christmas and New Years with family and friends in Byron Bay.

The Jezebels’ new album, The Brink, will be available from January 31 and lead single ‘The End’ is on youtube now for your perusal.

Ruby-Rose Niemann


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