Shayne Cook is a Brisbane Bred – Melbourne based singer songwriter who’s songs range dark and simple to unleashed emotional outpourings. Shayne has just realised his debut album, Epiphonetics.

Tomatrax caught up with Shayne to talk about his latest music.

You’ve said that you were a late bloomer to music, what inspired you to finally take on music making?

While mum told me I wanted to be a ‘songer’ (what I called it anyway) from when I could talk, I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 15.  I did have a stint on the piano when I was younger but gave up because the practice piano was in the dark downstairs and the piano teacher was a little scary. But when I learned my first song on guitar – it was either ‘wild thing’ or ‘come as you are’ but they were defiantly the first 2.  Ive always played music in various forms since then – bands, duos, wedding singing, session work, but I feel by leaving full time work to do an album was the big jump I was always needing to do for proper creative fulfilment.

You’ve just released your debut album, how does it feel to have it out?

Its great.  Before I put out the first songs there was a huge amount of self doubt etc etc – but now 5 months later the albums out and I’m looking at it as a starting point and a huge learning curve and that feels positive.

Where did the title Epiphonetics come from?

Its a made up word.  A hybrid of Epigenetics and Phonetics.  There a lot of elements in the record about exploring where you come from and by understanding this I think helps you to piece together why you make certain choices in this world and maybe with this understanding there is some glimmer of being able to manage your own life in a way that resonates with what you see as good.  Also growing up – one of my favourite times was Friday night record night with the family.

What was the inspiration behind the album’s cover?

My good friend Kareen Adam is an artist from Melbourne.  She had some prints that I really liked that I had seen her post from one of her shows.  The pattern really felt’ Epiphonetics’ to me so I asked her if I could use it for the album.  Local artist/ graphic designer  Ed Bidgood used this concept and bought in the hands with the meshed pattern of kareens artwork over top.  

You’ve said how the album is intended to be listened to from start to finish, did you have an idea how you wanted the album to be structured and sound before you began writing?

Not really – as this was my first record I kind of went with the whole make as many demos to start so that there will be enough that will find cohesion.  We tracked 15 songs so there is a few that were left off for various reasons and I think the 9 that are on the record seemed as an order to me at least that fits to the album title.   Simon Moro who produced the album had a strong concept of the instrumentation and direction but always let me guide the decision making process. 

You’ve listened to everything from grunge to hip-hop, indie rock and jazz, are there plans to put out music that focus on any of these genres?

I do want to be open to what music write.  At this stage i’m pretty happy that if you can get a group of songs that work well together then do it.  In that regard I think my next record will sound different to the first.  While I don’t mind a good rap battle I think i’ll leave the hip hop to the pros.  

The album covers a range of personal matters, is it hard to have these issues on show?

I think maybe the song matter is dealt with at the time of writing and by the time its out – it’s almost you are not that person anymore.  So not really.

When writing on the album what came first, the words or the music?

A little bit of both.  

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Yeap – I may cringe at one or two but generally id be happy to have songs snuck in a playlist.  In saying that there was a huge a mount of time I didn’t listen because I’d heard it so much.  Then when you need to perform the best thing to memorise is to sing along with the record.  Really as an artist I feel it would be fairly hard not too.

What other music do you listen to?

Well to be fair I just checked the three records by my player. 

 They were Ainslie Wills. ‘All you have is all you need’

Grizzly Bear ‘Veckatimest’

And Nirvana ‘ Nevermind’

I just like listening to lots of diverse music but a few on high rotation are

Nick cave

Leonard Cohen

Ainslie Wills

Emma Louise

Big Scary

Kevin Morby

Laura Marling

Now that your album is out, what do you plan on doing next?

Well I think I have a cohesive enough set of demos to head to the studio for album two.  I aim to do that soon.  As for the live thing – I will just wait like everyone to see how that pans out.

Check out Shayne Cook’s website to find out more!