What an honor it was to interview Shira Yevin aka Shiragirl. She has worked with many talented artists including Paramore, Rancid and Joan Jett and paved the road in the punk industry. Her musical influences of Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Pink, Bikini Kill, Sublime and Janet Jackson, to name a few, helped Shiragirl bring her raw punk/new wave music again to Warped Tour stages this summer. Her positive attitude on encouraging female artist to peruse and be role models has made a statement in the industry and has not gone unnoticed. Shiragirl has earned awards in the Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame to the MTV Warpie Tour Award.
Her new EP Brooklyn Goes Hollywood will be out by the first day of Warped tour. The new single “Summers Comin’” was released on 6/6. The new song is a fun, punk rock love story with a Rancid influenced vocal delivery combined with upbeat music. A perfect set-up for summer.
You have a new album coming out what is the message you want to get across to your fans?
Shiragirl: It’s hard to say one message, but overall I am more about encouraging creative expression and following your dreams. Freedom of speech, speaking your mind, honoring your voice. I hope to inspire others to do the same.
When you headed into the studio to record, did you already have all the songs fully demoed?
Well yes and no, we did a lot of pre-production. I worked with Tim Armstrong of Rancid. He had some solid ideas that he played for me one day when we went into studio. He played me a bunch of ideas; I kind of picked and choose what I liked best, took them and did some writing with my band. He also had this idea to bring in John King the other producer of the EP. We did a cover production before we went into studio. John King has a home studio which was super fun, so we went in and recorded a lot of demos and ideas. So yeah, by the time we headed into Tim’s Studio we were all set to go. It was a full process.
What an honor it must have been to work with Tim Armstrong. Did you write most of the lyrics yourself?
I do, but I also collaborate with my drummer and musical director, we go back and forth with ideas a lot. And Tim also had some lyrical ideas. It’s definitely collaboration but I would say lyrics are where I contribute the most.
What do you think Tim Armstrong brought to the album that you wouldn’t have considered prior?
He produced the core of all the songs, played guitar on the tracks and brought these concepts to life. He always encourages me. You know he’s a punk rocker. He likes the real raw vocal sound; he would push me in the studio to ramp up the energy and to kind of get to that gritty spot in my voice. But Yeah, he completely influenced the entire direction of the EP. You know we’ve always kind of been on the same page because I love his work, not only with Rancid but with The Transplants with Travis Barker playing drums. It has more of a dancy sound to it. I have an incredible drummer. I like to kind of say she is the female Travis Barker (giggles) So being able to connect on that level and similar visions. But Tim is so great to work with, you go in and say I kind of have this idea for a hook. And he’s super humble where a lot of producers are a little bit rough to work with they will say no that’s no good do it my way. But he doesn’t approach it like that. Everything is more of a collaboration or let’s try it this way, or what if we do this. He likes to say: It will be twenty seconds of our life and if you don’t like it we can refix it. We’ll try it and it will be incredible. We have this joke it’s called the Hook Olympics. So, there would be like this one song and he thought he had a better hook, or he was like you over hooked it has too many words in the chorus, kind of cut out like half the lines. So we did that and then there was another song where he had an idea and Raine (Pallandino) my drummer had another idea. She was actually over in New York and sent over a video and he was like she won the hook Olympics. I can’t believe it, he said, even thou she is way over there she won. (laughs). He’s not ego driven like a lot of other producers in this industry.
Since musical theater and spoken word were a solid foundation for your music career start, do you infuse these attributes into your albums and performances? And do you change your directions drastically from each album to imply a new story on stage?
For me I am a performer first and foremost which is what brought my love of music on and wanting to do music to perform. That being said, this record was really more about the music but others I’ll have a concept in mind for something I want to do with the live show. This one really came together more organically. It was a total collaboration with Tim, John King, my drummer Raine and bassist Leanne (Bowes). We kind of all put our heart and soul into it. Weirdly, I think just sort of captured this exciting moment in all of our musical careers. This EP is Brooklyn Goes Hollywood and my band is all from New York and lived in Brooklyn at the same time. We all kind of had similar sense of humor, life experiences and so it’s cool we had a lot of fun together. We all have an understanding and are very driven. Kind of have that New York hustle. So, I think the music and the themes really just sort of capture that. It’s all about the music. I love performing, I definitely have the music theater back ground. If you get to see my show I sort of ramp up the character and dance around and put on a show. But it felt really good going back to the punk rock roots with this one.
Are you going to be bringing back out the famous 2005 Pink Truck this year for the Warped Tour?
No, we’re getting an actual mobile stage. We’ve worked our way up, the truck was awesome, but I think it bit the bullet in 2006.
That actually brings up another one of my questions, regarding warped tour. Which female artists are you hoping to bring on stage with you this year and any special memories with these artists?
I’m very excited to have The Dollyrots back with us this year, we’ve toured over the years and we have two kids now. It’s amazing to be able to see how they have been able to grow, still have a family and still have music; very inspiring. We have a new artist called Elana J, she’s really good and has an edgy sound. We’re really looking forward to having her. Some of our other friends from New York Blame Shift they’ve been involved with the stage throughout of the years. You know it’s the final year of the tour and we all kind of wanted to come back and celebrate the history of the tour and have one last hurrah. So that’s going to be cool. From the west coast we have, No Small Children, a new upcoming band and you should see them at some upcoming festivals this year plus they are getting some airplay. They are an all-female band of School Teachers which is pretty cool. We have, Bridge City Sinners, they are like a rock-a-billy band coming out of Portland and their label Toxic Toast Records is going to be one of our sponsors. So, we have a lot of pallet. I’m very excited. We also have Susie Moon from the Turbulent Hearts. She played back in the day on Tim’s label. She’s really talented. It’s going to be awesome. We have a lot of great talent on-board.
What in your opinion is your biggest accomplishment in your career?
You know that’s a great question, I was thinking about this today… I found out that Billboard Magazine wants to interview me and it’s such an honor you know, they are huge with women in music. And I was thinking this EP and Tim is a huge accomplishment to be able to do a whole collection of songs and then to be able to take it on the warp tour. That is huge. One of my proudest moments is touring with Joan Jett and performing with her back in warp tour 06’. I got to perform “Bad Reputation” with her and she played guitar and sang back-up. It was incredible, a very special experience. She and her whole band kind of took us under their wings that summer I had a situation where one of my band members quit. She (Joan) came around knocking on my RV door and really encouraged me to keep going, that I was doing the right thing. When Joan Jett tells you to keep going, you got to keep going. So that was definitely a highlight. That summer was great, I also got to be featured in a Warped tour Rock N roll Hall of Fame exhibit. That was a huge honor. And just being able to tour to so many amazing venues, opening up for Rancid, No Effects it’s such an honor.
Your new video “Get Em’ Hot” kind of has a punk meets Olivia Newton John “Let’s Get Physical” feel. Can you relate to what I sort of see in there? (both of us giggling)
Yeah totally, that one for the EP is kind of like punk rock meets new wave with an 80’s throwback vibe. But we still wanted to keep it modern. It’s not just your typical punk rocker it has pop elements to it. For the video we kind of just wanted to have fun. It was sort of the video director’s idea, I can see people sweating and getting hot. So he kind of proposed it and I was like yeah, we had a different concept originally but that sounds like a lot of fun and the 80’s throwback was kind of a way to set the tone for the rest of the EP. We had a blast.
I can kind of see your fans showing up in the crowd in one of those leotard and headbands doing the fan support thing.
Yeah, we were talking that maybe this should be our look it would be so much fun dressing up in leotards for the tour. Cause it gets hot out there. (lots of laughter)
After this album and tour are finished what do you see in your future? Do you have any endeavors planned?
Yeah, that’s a great question, because I keep thinking of how I want to keep the legacy of the Shiragirl stage alive beyond Warped tour maybe lining up some more festivals and taking to stage at bigger festivals. So, it’s something I am definitely thinking about I want to help usher this next generation of being a female artist and to make sure that they are role models for visibility and opportunities. With Warped tour coming to an end, it’s no longer a consideration and it’s hard. Nothings handed to you, it’s all a lot of hard work, even getting the stage to come together this year took a lot of time and planning. So yeah, just wanting to align with some other kind of players in the industry and see how we can keep moving forward rather it turns into another tour or festival, or maybe even a club night. Take that initiative to provide a platform for other artists… I Always want it to be something more than just me and my band. A lot of people say, you could have went farther if you just focused on your own thing but, I don’t see it that way. I really want to be part of a movement.
When you started back in London with your schooling, do you ever look at going back to the ground roots of where it all began. Getting inspired and incorporating that aspect of combining the old and the new?
Yeah definitely, I would love to go back there. It was definitely an inspiration for me to get started in music.
I’ve always been inspired by the culture over there. They are a lot more open minded over there honestly. They don’t really put music into boxes like we do in this country and it’s fun. I feel like we’re getting there in terms of different genre, mixing what not. But yeah, Europe is lot more open minded. I hope to play over there one day soon. I’ve actually been in touch with some of the folks over there at Rebellion Fest because who knows what could be happening in the future.
By Contributing Photographer/Writer Michalle Henderson
Top Photo Credit: Chris Cuffaro
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