How did you get started, and what has led up to where you are today as an artist?
I have been playing music since I was 15. My whole family is musical. My dad was a nightclub entertainer on Yonge Street in Toronto for years before he decided to move west to Alberta where I was born. Both of my older brothers play music as well and my sister and mom always loved to sing along to all the songs. Campfires were a ton of fun in my family.
I started on the drums and played in a number of bands, mostly in the blues or rock style, but the whole time I was sitting around when not jamming and writing little tunes on my Fender acoustic, because I was so into artists like Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot. They seemed to be singing to the kind of sadder and darker emotions I was feeling but couldn’t really explain.
In 2017 after numerous band splits and problems I decided to just go out on my own and try that out as my sister had urged me to do so many times. It was scary to perform solo and put myself out like that, because there was a very personal element to my songs that were difficult to present to people. My mom had passed a few years before that and I had a bit of a breakdown and finally learned that I suffer from OCD, a very difficult anxiety condition. As tough as this was and still is from time to time, it certainly provided a muse as many of my songs speak of dealing with OCD, anxiety, insomnia, and exposure – the number 1 technique for treating OCD. Scary as it was, I found the more I spoke of my disorder, the less it bothered me. People didn’t seem to reject me for being personal with my music, they seemed to appreciate it more!
So, in 2018, I found out about the Sunrise Records Local Artist Contest. My local community here in St. Paul and with many other friends on Facebook helped me out to win second in this contest and this saw my debut CD – “You Are My Home” – printed and distributed in all Sunrise Records locations in Western Canada! How amazing was that! I’m still so thankful for all the support. To support this, I organized a summer tour through Alberta and Saskatchewan and tried to play at as many Sunrise Record stores I could as well as other gigs I could find. It was an interesting time to branch out on the road on my own – my lady is a professional wedding photographer and she was unable to join me due to her work. I toured BC the next year with a short lived band (Raven Season) and now I am releasing a single in October and recording in my basement to release my second album in 2022. Super excited for that!
Who do you feel has influenced you the most as an artist?
Tough question. I love so many artists. When I first decided I needed to play and create music it was Rush that blew my mind. They are still my favourite band of all time. I also love so many classic rock stalwarts: Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, Blind Melon, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Tragically Hip, etc. I’d say that my number one influence is my dad, who had the most amazing voice and presence and unfortunately passed away last January. I’ve never met a single person who wasn’t completely charmed when my dad sang. He was that amazing. I miss him every single day. For more famous influences, I picked up the acoustic guitar because of Neil Young and my dad got me right into Canada’s greatest songwriter: Gordon Lightfoot.
The honesty, vulnerability and creativity of both of these greats never ceases to amaze me. I would give my left arm to meet and jam with either one of them. My love of Waylon Jennings, Bob Marley and Gord Downie runs deep as well. I can’t get enough of honest songwriters.
What do you feel sets you apart from other artists and gives you your own sound?
My philosophy is pretty simple. If I just write songs from the heart and be myself, the music can’t help but be authentic, right? I feel that my music lands somewhere in the middle of every instrument and style of music I’ve played. I was a drummer to start with and my solo acoustic guitar work includes many percussive elements to reflect that influence. I was a bass player and vocalist in my longest running band and I play a ton of thumb bass lines in a fingerstyle manner to reflect that.
Finally, I’d say my vocal style has been compared to the likes of Waylon Jennings, Shannon Hoon, Chris Cornell, Tom Petty and Glenn Danzig! So, this is how I play and sing and I figure all those influences and style blends must create a unique sound. It’s hard to judge that as the artist. I suppose fans would have to tell me what they think.
What has been your biggest challenge and what do you feel you have learned from it?
My OCD has been and probably always will be my greatest challenge. It’s tough to explain to someone who doesn’t have it, but just imagine that from time to time, your brain tries to convince you that some of your worst fears in yourself must be true and the anxiety this produces can be awful. However, I now know what I face, have a solid support group of my spouse and friends, and I also have a great team of professionals that I work with, so I feel I’m getting on the right side of this condition.
I have a very creative mind, for better or for worse. I’ve been working for years on a role playing game that I feel improves on Dungeons and Dragons, I am an artist, music and art teacher and I’m working on a book to tell my story about OCD. So, if OCD is the byproduct of living with this creative mind I have, and from time to time it needs to create some awful anxiety, I suppose that’s the price. I have learned, through the practice of exposure, how to face my greatest fears and that is an ongoing process that to me, has priceless value. Certainly this has helped with having the courage to strive out on my own as a solo artist.
Tell us about your latest project, what have you got going on at the moment?
Wow, so excited to be learning, writing and working on my upcoming single and next album. I’ve been recording in my basement and I love it because it takes away the pressure of worrying about the cost of studio time. It allows for the practice required to get an amazing take and for the creative ideas to happen when they do and to not have a sound engineer get annoyed because you want to go down that creative rabbit hole so to speak. I just tweaked a guitar opus I’m writing that led to down tuning to a drop G sound and I love it!
This next single is a very catchy and soulful song about a girl I used to know and the next album will be much more focused on my babies – the 3 acoustic guitars in my studio that have been handed down to me from my dad. That, plus being a husband, full-time teacher, private music lesson teacher, author, artist, game designer and hiking enthusiast certainly keeps me occupied.
What advice would you give to anyone new coming into the industry?
Be real and create community with other artists. I have sort of a branded community on Twitter. It’s called the FOSL (Friends of Shane Larmand), and it includes tons of artists who have been added to my playlists. I meet artists online and try to make the conversation mostly about them. This creates trust. As our relationship grows a bit, maybe then I might talk to them about following me on Spotify, etc. Our community is great. We share each others pre-saves, releases, and play each others playlists.
Another piece of advice is to just be real with what your expectations are. For example, I’m a married 46 year old with a full time teaching job (that I love) so I certainly don’t release music with the expectation of becoming the next Ed Sheeran. I wouldn’t do very well with big fame anyway and touring life is fun for a few weeks, but I’m sure that would get real old real quick. So, I release music with the intention of getting it out in the world, growing my community and fan base, and satisfying my artistic dreams. That being said, something I’m doing is working. I have many thousands of streams of my tracks, tons of buds in the online music community who see me as a leader and as I’ve been working on my latest single release and am planning to put a couple bucks behind some promotion for the first time ever, I’m finding that organizations, blogs (like NoiseHype), and playlisters are now reaching out to me to want to work with me, rather than reaching out myself to a constant stream of soul-numbing rejection.
Big tip: Stop reaching out hopelessly to be rejected. Build your music and your brand and make it as high quality as you can and they will come to you eventually. I mean I’m not exactly blowing up Spotify with my streaming numbers or monthly followers, but I’m getting some royalties, people are listening to and liking my music and it’s fun to get it out there – something that was hard to do back in the day. Of course, I’d like to see it all grow more, but I’m very happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish with the support of my musical community. Finally, is there any better advice than a few chords and the truth?
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for getting you to where you are now, anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Wow! so many folks are along for this ride. Firstly, my beautiful wife (www.michellelarmandphotography.com) is such an artist and creative, driving force in her own right and she supports me in my touring, recording, performing, etc. I am nowhere without this wonderful creature. My dad for the musical influence and practice ethic and my mom for total support of my teenage artistic dreams.
My brothers for a lot of great influence and my sister for the absolute support and the urging to just get out there and try the solo thing. My niece is a big fan and support as well. All my pals that I’ve played in bands who have been super cool – you know who you are. A special shoutout to my first jam buddy in my first band who is also my best pal – Joey G. I tell kids that all the time in school. Form bands – you’ll make the best friends of your life! Most of my best pals are past bandmates.
Big thanks to Olivia at Sunrise Records for being so amazing during the whole Local Artist contest and a huge shout to my sound engineer; Jeff Weeks at 302 Productions in Bonnyville, Alberta for being the tech support I’ve always needed. If you like how my music sounds, you can thank this genius. All the amazing community on Facebook and at home who voted and voted to help me win second in the Sunrise Records contest – I don’t know if I’ve ever experiences such a great community experience before or since. Hats off to you guys. Finally, any artist who’s been great enough to provide their talents for any of my recordings – your generosity is highly appreciated.
How can fans find you?
Check out the many social listings below. Reach out to me there and let’s have a conversation.