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With Light Asylum’s Shannon Funchess

I first met Shannon, briefly, some several years ago when I was desperately in search of an apartment following a fire. She came up the street at just the right time said hi to friend of mine and offered up an apartment she and her friend Bianca were trying to off load. Eleanore has another story, first meeting Shannon in Kyp Malone’s apartment. Shannon dressed in splattered overalls painting the bathroom came out full of charm and friendship. In both instances Shannon seemed a fixture of the neighborhood, her charisma and effortless cool carving out an instant place for herself as if she was always there part of New York folklore. But her talent we would each soon discover more than met the high standards of her personality. She’s sung with !!! and backup on many big things out of NYC making a big name in her own right within the scene and more than justifying our first impressions but it’s her and Bruno Coviello’s band Light Asylum that looks to be finally bringing her to the masses. The band’s ‘In Tension’ E.P. came out last month, got all sorts of well deserved praise and promptly sold o.u.t. OUT! We’d been trying to catch up with her and do this interview since we toured together back in November. Now, after several missed connections we finally got her.

THITH: So, since we were on tour together in the UK you went to Australia! how was that? what were you doing there?

SHANNON FUNCHESS: It was great! I was on the St. Jerome Laneway festival tour with !!! whom I sang with for 5 years along side Nic Offer. I’m focusing on LIGHT ASYLUM from here on out and only doing guest vocals on studio recordings and live shows that don’t require me to leave my band on a regular basis. For instance, I will be singing back up vocals for LCD Sound System’s last show at Madison Square Garden in April.

THITH: You’ve got a new video for your track “Dark Allies’! Tell us about it.

SF: Our friend Grant Worth shot and directed the video. We collaborated on themes conjured up by the lyrical imaging and that’s what we came up with on a budget. The video was shot in an empty bank vault on Wall St. between 7pm and 5am in one night. The space was lent to us by C.H.E.R.Y.L. an artist collective with a residency there. Grant is a genius editor, director as well as artist. All the lights in the video are manually worked/ switched on and off in synchopated rhythm by loving hands of friends lying on the floor in the dark. We love working with him and are currently planning the next video for the single, “A Certain Person” from the In Tension E.P.. The model/Virgin Mary figure Jaime Coon, is a dear friend of more than 15 years from when we both lived in Washington state. Everyone on the set was fabulous to work with.

THITH: Now, if I remember this right, you’ve got well more than a record’s worth of music that you guys made. We can’t wait to hear it as a whole. How much have you released already?

SF: None, except 4 song E.P. (cds) we sell at shows and 30 hand made cassette tapes which had a bonus track “Shallow Tears”. Most of those are in Europe from the month long Coco Rosie tour we did in May 2010. Oh, and we released “Shallow Tears” on !K7 records for The Big Pink ‘mixtapes’ compilation that I believe is available on vinyl! We do have an albums worth of music though we are just waiting for the right label to snatch us up.

THITH: How do the two of you work on tracks? Have you been you recording with anyone in studios or is it all DIY?

SF: We work side by side 50/50. I started this band 4 years ago. Bruno joined two years later. We’ve recorded one song, “Dark Allies” with Matt Boynton at Vacation Island in Brooklyn, the rest is DIY. We like working with great engineers. If you know of any…… let us know.

THITH: Did the recordings come together over a long period or short burst?

SF: If I had to choose I’d say short bursts. The writing process is pretty effortless between us. We are lucky to have this kind of working relationship. It took me years to find this situation. It’s like waiting for the perfect relationship to find you. When you are in a band basically, you get married to one-five people and the dynamics are pretty unpredictable. It just being the two of us has been pretty easy to get ideas across to one another to make creative choices we can both agree on in the process.

Shannon with !!!

THITH: You have a ton of other amazing things you’re always working on, is it hard splitting your time between something like touring with !!! and being in Light Asylum? Is it a release to be on the road doing other things or do you count the time when you can get back to it?

SF: Since Bruno has been in the band and my solo days of working with producers were put aside, it was painful to be away from LIGHT ASYLUM (my baby) but, necessary. I needed to be able to support my dreams somehow so I whored myself out. I also needed the stage time to learn exactly what I did and didn’t want to do with my own music. I’m grateful for the experience and the traveling. I learned a lot and saw the world a couple times over but, there still some places I need to take LIGHT ASYLUM.

THITH: We’ve got a lot of mutual friends who have been moving away from NY. How are you feeling about the city these days?

SF: I love the shitty! I hate subway trains but, driving everywhere in Los Angeles is pretty nerve racking too. The biggest pain about living anywhere these days is the cost. It’s ridiculous and basically killing human, beast and plant alike. Something has to give. I’d love to have an apt in Brooklyn and a house upstate! July-August in N.Y.C. I can’t do anymore…it’s too dam hot and humid to be surrounded by concrete and pollution. I’m feeling pretty bi-coastal these days but, N.Y.C. is home base.

THITH: What records have you been listening to lately and what have you heard that was good?

SF: Not sure if people listen to records anymore the way they used to. You’d put on a 12″ and listen to both sides as you did things around your house, making art, cleaning, cooking, hanging out with friends talking about records and how they made you feel. Do people still do that? I’m pretty much listening to whatever I come across via friends or the internet like most people now. I’ve been listening to mostly E.P.s I really like the 2010′s: White Car E.P. ‘No Better’, Warm Ghost ‘Claws Overhead E.P., Beat Connection’s Surf Noir E.P. As far as just great bands to see and hear….Ariel Pink, Teengirl Fantasy, War Paint, Yeasayer, LCD Sound System have all been amazing to watch already in 2011.

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