Shaprece Unwinds in Los Angeles

When Shaprece performed with the Seattle Symphony in late October as part of the SSO’s Sonic Evolution series, we didn’t realize it was the elegant vocalist’s Seattle swan song. About a week after the concert—which featured Shaprece center-stage, her robust, nuanced voice elevated by a full symphony’s expansive swells—Shaprece relocated from her hometown to Los Angeles.

Today we premiere the video for “Unwind,” the first single from Shaprece’s upcoming debut LP Coals, shot live during her Benaroya performance. Check out our interview with Shaprece as she basked in the glow of her new surroundings and watch the video below.

City Arts: You went out with a bang! Play with the Symphony, get out of town.
haprece: I definitely felt that that was a good time for transition seeing as how that was a milestone that I always wanted to achieve. From early childhood I imaged myself playing with the Symphony and that I did so on my golden birthday felt like a good segue to the next phase.

Why LA?
I’d been working in LA, finishing the album for pretty much the entire summer. And a few years back I was deciding whether I wanted to move to LA or New York and this summer solidified the reason why LA is the right place for me. The album is finished and I’m dealing with the business side of it and I want to expand those business relationships. This is a great place to test those waters.

So you’re there now then.
I am! I packed up a week after the show. I had a few meetings so I just packed up the Jeep and drove here. But I’ll be back for Christmas.

Whereabouts exactly? 
Hancock Park, which is near West Hollywood, Miracle Mile. It’s really peaceful here. The building I’m in was built in the 1920s by Paramount, and Ava Gardner used to live on the top floor. It’s old-school Hollywood glam and I fell in love with it right away. I found it within a week of being here and it felt serendipitous with the transition, being in the right place at the right time. I found a really lovely camp of people that I’m exploring songwriting with. I’m also talking to a few different agents and building business relationships on that end, and being a bit of a tumbleweed and seeing what doors I can open and what networks I can tap into being here.

What kind of business are you working on? 
I’d love support for this album because all the financing has been in-house and very DIY. That’s the reason I decided to push the album release back. A lot of passion went into this project and I wanna do it as much justice as possible. I put things on hold to see if we could get a label or investor to back us and I want more time for that to marinate. The album will come out in 2016 one way or another; I’d love early spring—that would be a good segue to a tour and South-by. I put so much into the project! It’s my baby, our baby, and I wanna make sure I don’t rush it. It took two years to write it so we might as well release it properly. I want all the artwork in order. It’s a concept album and I don’t wanna sell it short. Patience is a virtue, as clichéd as that sounds.

What’s the concept? 
The album is called Coals, and it’s kind of broad to say it’s a love story, but it’s about the growth of a relationship and what that means. Darker moments of love versus the purity of love and the waves a relationship goes through, romantic relationships and family relationships and friendships. My writing style on the album is very much in the form of poetry because I’m a visual person, so I tried to be less traditional with the way I write love songs. Everyone has that experience of falling in and out of love, but I wanted to paint a picture with the lyrics. I couldn’t have created the album anywhere but Seattle because I did most of my writing on hikes and in nature. I used my surroundings in the Northwest as a reflection of how I felt emotionally, so it’s very green and organic and the vibe is very rainforest-y. That’s what I mean by concept album. I wanted to tell a complete story rather than pump out song after song. I want a theme throughout it. 

Tell me about the performance at Benaroya. 
It was the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had. And it was one of those things where you prepare for months and it feels like the moment happened so quickly. It took weeks to process what happened on that stage. I’m thankful and humbled that they asked me to do it and grateful to the musicians and dancers and set designers that were a part of that night.

How’d you pick “Unwind” for the first release? 
That song is the best representation of what you can expect from the album. Since we don’t have release dates yet, we wanted to make sure that it was as close to what you’ll hear on the album as possible.

And it’s your usual crew of musicians on the album? 
Yeah, it was IG88 and Phil Peterson. 

So maybe you pick up some new collaborators and inspiration down there.
That’s something I’m very open to. I’m excited to see what inspiration I can draw from the weather change and the lightheartedness of the city. It’s a bit less… I don’t wanna say dreary… Whenever I write music it’s very emotional and the weather plays a part in that, so I’m excitied to see what inspiration I can draw from being in the sunshine all the time, or if I continue to gravitate toward the Seattle atmosphere. I’m excited to see how my creativity expands being in a different place. 

LA is sparkly and outgoing and Seattle is introspective and moody. So maybe you go a little more pop?
We’re very real in Seattle. I didn’t move when I was 19, when I was super impressionable. I’m an adult woman who knows who she is as an artist and I’m not easily influenced, especially based on what everyone else is doing. I’ve made a point of being an individual as an artist. Me dressing in a latex body suit is unlikely. [Laughs] There may be brighter tones on the album to come, but as far as my core as an artist, I believe in expressing your real emotions. That’s what music needs. I’m hell-bent on being a pioneer in some fashion, and evoking that honest emotion from other artists that come across my music. That’s what we need. 

So what’s the weather like there right now?
It’s lovely. Like 80 degrees. I’m not posting pictures on Instagram because I know what you guys are going through at home right now. But it’s beautiful. Come visit!