Shane Palko is a true talent in the Folk/Indie Pop scene! He’s an artist that lives, eats, sleeps and breathes for music. We talked about his new single “Sunrise In Bangkok” and he answers to other miscellaneous questions about his ongoing career.
1 – When did you realize that you wanted to make a living doing music?
Music has always been in my bones. I wrote seven songs when I was six years old. I have two university degrees and have worked a gaggle of different jobs – music has always been at the core.
2 – Speaking about playing musical instruments, do you practice much or does it come naturally?
I don’t necessarily practice music, but I do play daily. I have spent a lot of time alone in the road over the past few years with a guitar strapped to my back. This results in me playing extensively on the daily.
3 – Are you as strong as a songwriter as you are a singer? How do you feel about the two?
I feel that historically, I have been a stronger writer than singer. While my melody-making and story-telling have developed simultaneously, I originally started composing songs to tell stories and share ideas and feelings in an evocative way. As I have spent over two decades twiddling around with music, I have learned to move my fingers faster and in more interesting ways.
4 – We know you have performed in over 25 countries. In what foreign city did you feel a closer connection with the audience?
I have been playing concerts so far from home for so long that I have started to feel that everywhere is my home. In some countries, I feel a connection with people because we speak each other’s languages and they can understand what I’m saying. In other countries where I don’t speak the verbal language, I feel a connection with people, because many are grateful that I would tour so far off the beaten track. I played in Myanmar two years in a row; very few western artists would dream of touring there. People were so happy to see a Pennsylvania folk boi crooning. This past winter, I toured all through Central America. I really connected with audiences in small towns. In the current negative political climate of North America, it was good to be able to share some positivity, music, and mescal. It felt really special to be there at this time. I connected with people in Mexico because we are neighbors. I fumble through the Spanish language and try to have fun with friends there old and new.
If I am going to a new or risky place, I will often travel alone so that I don’t put any of my music buddies in unsafe situations. I love traveling with a band. What’s the point of all these experiences if you can’t share them with someone? Once I tour to a place once, it is easier to return with the connections I have made and bring a band. I also love to tour solo and teach local backing bands and international friends how to play my songs. In this way, I can show up to east Africa alone but have a seven-piece band by the time I hit the stage at the festival. Music is a really cool way to share.
6 – I enjoyed watching the music video for your latest single “Sunrise In Bangkok”. How many locations were involved in the filming?
Thanks. I have been in and out of Bangkok since I was sixteen. Having toured through so many times, I have a lot of places I love in that city. Over a few days in October, on the way home from a tour in East Africa, I went around the city with friends to a bunch of places we know. My two favorite abandoned skyscrapers that I used to climb for free in the middle of the night proved very hard to access at sunrise with camera equipment. We ended up filming the sun slips on top of my friend’s condo. The bar you see in the video is Fatty’s Bar and Diner in Dingaeng, Bangkok, and has been a staple of the indie music scene in Bangkok for years. One of the owners, Matthew Fischer, expatriated himself from Wisconsin a decade ago and married an awesome local named Kae, and together they opened the grungy music venue. While I have other places that I play in Thailand that might be a better representation of local culture, I love those guys and wanted to feature Fatties in the video. (Matt played keys and Kae drums for the video – and my friend Shane who tended at the bar plays bass.)
It is hard to capture the magic of an entire city, and pay homage to a decade of my life experiences with one video, but I’m happy to have a video that features a few glimpses into a city that I have loved and watched change over the years.
7 – Is this song about a romantic escapade or something else?
This song is about how fast the world spins when you are stuck inside of an experience. You can look up and suddenly days have run away from you. Depending on the listener’s experiences and subsequent inferences, it can take on any number of meanings, including romance.
8 – I noticed the acoustic element is present in almost all of your productions. What are some of the best acoustic guitar songs of all time you currently play on repeat?
I love many genres of music. I’ve played in bands doing not only folk but also metal, R&B, rock. My current project is more acoustic – but that doesn’t reflect all of my interests. In terms of acoustic-based music that inspires me:
Michael Hedges “Aerial Boundaries” is the epitome of interesting guitar work. Old classic as such as “helplessly hoping” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and “the pretender” by Jackson Browne are classics that slid through my ears as a kid and still spin on my record player. People that are making great music today are Quiet Hollers, Yellowfang and Milieu Lust.
9 – Have you ever composed songs for films or TV series?
My music has been used in a couple of shows internationally. I did the soundtrack for one indie film. I have spent most of my musical life playing more independent and under the radar type of engagements. I’m just recently getting comfortable with having my music be seen in a broader context.
10 – How do you see your music going in the future?
I am excited about where my music will take me. Not only am I planning collaborations with key players in different cultures – I also want to give back by helping preserve traditional folk music in diverse cultures, without my influence. I feel really honored to have been welcomed into so many places. Not only do I want to present my music in these locations, I also want to enjoy and share the music that is out there existing in the world.
I’m planning some festival appearances in Africa and some collaborations and performances in Central America in July 2018.
Thanks so much for the time and interest! Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further information.