Jan. 27, 2017 – by Jimmy Willden, Special to The Bend Magazine
First, introduce yourself. Name, age (if you want) where you’re from, etc.
The name I was born with is Shayna Sands. I’m from Texas, born in Houston.
What brought you from Houston to Corpus, how long have you lived in Corpus, from what age?
My dad got a new job in Corpus, so we moved when I was two. I have lived in Corpus from age two to eighteen. Then drove to NYC and lived a few places there and drove back 4 and a half years later. It’s been 3 years since I’ve been back.
What got you into music?
My dad had a small upright piano his father (my grandfather) gave him. It seemed automatic to use it as a tool for expression. I would pretend I was a great pianist. Of course, I was only 3 or 4 and making up the cliché rain and thunder “compositions.” You know, the pounding of the bass notes and the light putter-patter of the higher registers. Another intro to music for me was the small collection of records my dad owned. I liked the tangible process of playing them and the artwork on the covers, plus the excitement of hearing it through the big speakers he had set up in the living room was enough to make me dance and jump on the furniture.
When did you first start playing, what was your first instrument?
I explored music on a piano first, but I never really learned the proper way to play it. I have begun learning again in school. I started playing guitar in my middle school years and it was like a companion I took everywhere.
When did you start writing songs? What was the name of your first song, and what was it about?
I started writing songs for fun or just for entertainment with friends when I first got my guitar around age 12. I would sing about everything in sight. It didn’t turn into anything serious until I was 17 and took a creative writing class. I had a lot on my mind at that time and was suffering from acute anxiety. I ended up writing some poems and putting them to music. I wrote my first song when I was 17 and called it Mother Dear. It was a letter to a mother in jail.
What excites you about performing live, especially here in Corpus Christi?
Performing live is pure magic. It does not have a selfish goal. It is pure, spiritual oneness with creativity, with community, and with the divine. I think that to give a great performance, is to give countless hours of hard work and dedication and at the same time accessing something much, much greater then ourselves. I like performing all over Corpus Christi wherever there is a good sound guy, good gear, and good venue management. The Surf Club always has all of those criteria.
What is missing from the CC music scene, and what do you think we can do to change that?
I think the music scene could use some love, and more places where we could have musicians come through without sports being shown to distract the audience. The Churchyard is a great new space for that, and so is Lotus Dreams Tea. Perhaps the attitude some people have toward live music can change. The city needs people who care about keeping the music alive, to take action. Of course, music is for people to enjoy even when they don’t have the money, but if you can appreciate the hard work that goes into performing, support it, give back. When venues don’t care, bands don’t care, and the audience doesn’t care, it kills the scene. Some good bands play for free because they think they need exposure, but you need to focus on your craft more than exposure. 95% of the time, it’s not worth is to play for exposure, but people keep offering this as some sort of golden reward for playing without pay. This has a negative domino effect on every working musician. The music scene can still thrive if people have a lot of respect for it. Pay a good band and it will benefit the business and the community so much more in the long run. Listen to a good band and it could change your life. However, that same band needs a good sound guy/gal to help make that happen. Vino Mio is a venue that has done a great job at bringing quality and variety. They treat musicians well. So many unique sounds come through that place. I think venues, musicians, and audience need to work together to respect the craft.
Tell me the story behind your favorite musical memory?
I have so many favorites… I will just say, I used to write some tunes with a friend, Chava, I grew up with. We were a good team and wrote some comical lyrical material that also had some interesting harmonies. We practiced it for hours and hours and loved every minute. Unfortunately, we lost all the recordings so it could have been absolute junk, but as I remember, it was some of the best of times creating music.
Where are some places you’ve performed in CC?
I’ve played at Vino Mio, Cassidy’s, Surf Club, House of Rock, The Texan, house shows, Threads, Renaissance, Lotus Dreams Tea, Del Mar, and a few other places. I enjoy finding new places to play and meeting good people who help with that.
What’s next for you?
Finishing an album and hitting the road for a few performances out of state. I’m always trying to improve the craft. In the meantime, I am perusing a degree in music and dabbling in composition.
Can you tell me about your song Corpus Christi. Where did it come from, and what inspired it?
I wrote that song when I was packing to leave Corpus Christi. This city has its own unique character but the feeling of leaving it is probably the same for anyone leaving a small hometown.
I know you moved to NY for a while — and you’re back now. What are your thoughts about being an important fixture in CC?
Everyone is important in ways we can’t always see in public. I think it’s important to give and I try to give good music wherever I go. It’s a relaxing place to come back to, but I’m sure I’ll be traveling soon.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Yes. Readers, please take time out of your day to enjoy music. Remember that a human spirit is behind that music and if you have trouble finding the spirit in the music, try listening to another artist.