Q+A with Shaun DeGraff

Shaun DeGraff is a Vegas native who made singing, songwriting, beatboxing and musicmaking his lifework. After receiving his first piano at age 13, Shaun immediately fell in love with the freedom of thought and expression that song writing afforded him, ultimately gravitating to the keyboard as his main creative outlet.

Since committing full force to pursuing his talent, the artist has turned quite a few heads - earning a few award nods and even seeing his music featured in film.

Shaun's recently released album Grey Area is appropriately titled as the songs explore the ups and downs in life, walking a tight rope between positive and negative energy.

His music absolutely caught me off guard with its eclectic sound and one-of-a-kind force. Shaun may incorporate the flavors of a few big name artists - The Killers, G Love, and Ben Folds, as he references - but he definitely has a sound and dramatic flair that is uniquely his own.

Inventive, refreshing and absolutely electric. His songs will get stuck in your head time and time again.

I got to speak with Shaun over the last few weeks about his musicmaking. Here is what he had to say:

Give us a little background - how did you get started in music?
Ever since I was a kid I've always been a ham. My family never pushed me in the musical / theatre direction, it was just what I was naturally good at. I love the synergy of live performance. It's a rush putting your ass on the line and asking people "Am I good enough?" I think I chose it as a profession because I wouldn't be much good at anything else. As far as instruments, I play the keyboard so I can be any instrument I want to be organic or electric. Chances are I will fool 99% of the people out there that the instruments were played by a real drummer, guitarist, bass, strings etc. Grey Area was completely produced by me in the digital realm even though it sounds so organic.

How would you describe your sound?
LONG: Powerful Piano-pop with organic flavors of modern rock, jazz, and acoustic hip-hop. SHORT: Acoustic soul that rocks!

Very first song you wrote?
It was a song called "Shawna" and yes, of course I wrote it for a girl named Shawna. It sounded a lot like Woody Harrelson's song "Kelly" from a Cheers episode. It didn't work unfortunately. I didn't get laid. Hahahaha..

You have a very unique energy, who/what inspires you in your music?
This rollercoaster ride they call life inspires me the most. I haven't been diagnosed but I'm sure I have at least a mild case of bi-polar. If not, I'm just one moody bastard! That's why my songs range from soft and sweet to hard and aggressive. That has always been my problem as far as marketing is concerned. But that's f*cking life. As far as artists go, I'm all over the board. Bjork, Stevie Wonder, Ben Folds, Bill Withers, Imogen Heap, Owl City.

August 2010 Vocalist Of The Month for singeruniverse.com 
-Modern Rock Album Of The Year for "Music For Life" 2008 - JPF Music Awards 
-Modern Rock Album Of The Year for "In My Room" 2007 - JPF Awards 
-Modern Rock Song Of The Year for "All We Need" 2005 - JPF Awards 
-"You Had Me At Goodbye" on closing motion picture credits "The List" 2009 
-"Ain't That A B****" licensed to Google 2008 commercial 

Favorite song on Grey Area?
"Had Me At Goodbye." Love the melody, catchy lyric in the hook, and the way I produced it did the song justice. I didn't write the song. My amazing talented friend Phillip Stendek wrote it.

Name some artists on your iPod right now.
Lot's of progressive trance DJ sets. I get sooo much shit done when I listen to it. Angels and Airwaves, BT, Cocteau Twins, DJ Shadow, Fever Ray, Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons (great band from Vegas), Justice, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend to name a few.

You seem to be doing well lately with album drop earlier this year, the recent vocalist of the month win and #1 Vegas ranking on ReverbNation. What's next for you?
First, Around The Way blog, then, THE WORLD!!! Muuuwwwaaahahahahahah!!! (Evil laugh). My goal for the next month is to put a college/festival tour together. My goal for the next three to six months is to get enough college radio play to open for a headlining tour.

Upcoming shows?
TBA. Go to http://www.thatpianoguy.com/ and sign up for the mailing list!

Thanks Shaun for the great interview! We expect to see much more of you...

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September 1, 2010 at 9:56 AM Anna said...

Thanks again Shaun for taking the time to talk! And congrats on the Universal deal :)

September 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM Ms. Chyme said...

He's great. thanks for this interview i got to know him well.

September 2, 2010 at 9:15 AM Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

Nice interview! I will have to listen online :)

September 4, 2010 at 7:31 PM Shaun DeGraff said...

Anna...thank you for.....well, you!