BLACK CURRANT MAG
and SHANNON LAY
On a rainy afternoon, just west of Amsterdam in the old city of Haarlem, a conversation between two good friends took place. Friends in music, traveling and more, who would even pick the same instrument to turn into if they would ever end up having to make that strange choice. Over some old Dutch cheese, vegetarian bitterballen and tea, Shannon Lay and Mikal Cronin had a little heart-to-heart. We figured we’d let them do the interview themselves so we only handed them a list of questions to ask each other – their answers were just as sweet as this whole picture sounds.
How would you describe me as a musician?
Shannon: How would I describe THE Mikal Cronin..? I feel like you are this modern and cool interpretation of a crooner. There’s a melodic element to everything that you do but also it’s still so badass. Your songwriting is ever evolving and changing, it’s sick. You just rule.
Mikal: I’m flattered. It’s been interesting to see this other side of you on this tour. The rocking side. I’ve seen it before with Feels, but I am impressed by how well rounded you are. From this beautiful soft and delicate music to being comfortable with very heavy, aggressive music. It’s been very interesting to see both sides.
Shannon: Hell yeah. It’s so easy when our stage is full of so many badasses.
What are some words you would describe my last album with, and why?
Shannon: Are we talking about Seeker now? I think the word that I would use to describe it is reflective. It’s incredibly nostalgic. There’s something about it that is looking towards the future while at the same time it’s kind of examining where you’ve come from and everything you’ve accomplished and been through. I love the vibe of it. It’s very clear that you’ve taken a moment to appreciate everything you’ve been through, took a moment to reflect on it. So many people will relate to it.
Mikal: Well, I’m glad you caught on to that, because that is very true. I had a lot to reflect on since my last record. Your last record is really interesting because you’ve expanded your palette a bit. It’s so hard to write a song that is so self contained in its guitar and vocalness, but still be able to expand outwards into new territory for yourself. But you did that. I love seeing people push themselves in that way, it’s amazing.
How would you describe our musical chemistry?
Shannon: I love playing bass next to you so much. When we are both playing bass, I would love to watch that from the outside sometimes. Because I think we both get a little nasty out there.
Mikal: You don’t see two basses a lot. It’s so much fun having you fill in all the high ends of the spectrum that I don’t reach. A two bass experience like no other. We compliment each other really well.
Both: O my gosh!!! We should do a jam with just us two playing bass!
Shannon: It’s so much fun going from being a fan of your music to being a good friend. We just met by being out at the same shows, the last few years in LA. And we just clicked. Sorry if that sounds cheesy.
Mikal: It’s very true though.
What do you hope will happen on tour?
Shannon: (talking about the tour they are on right now, with Ty Segall & Freedom Band) I hope everything that I hope will happen. It’s been the most challenging but incredible thing that i’ve ever done. I am so grateful to be traveling around with you guys. I also can not wait for the tour’s we have planned together. That combo is gonna knock ‘em dead.
Mikal: I feel awkward with you playing first on that tour already. It’s going to be hard to play after you. Especially with the whole band there. It will be really positive. It’s such a great group of people we’re going with. I am really excited about everything. We’ll both be in a separate minivan, like a little adventure.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from me?
Shannon: Discipline. And the vast array of things you can play. When we went to record you just played the melody on the piano like ‘this is how it is’. You are so integer in what you are doing. Maybe it doesn’t feel like that to you but to an outsider it’s so clear that you really know what you are doing and you take it very seriously, but at the same time it’s got such humility and a human element to it all.
Mikal: General positivity. It’s so refreshing to have such a positive force around you. You always take things in stride and are going with the flow of whatever is going on. It’s hard to maintain something like that, but you do it so well.
Shannon: Can we make one up for each other now?
Shannon: Mikal, if you could be any musical instrument, what would it be?
Mikal: Woooh, that is a good question. Maybe I’d be a cello. I love cello. How it sounds, and it’s a good size. If you would walk around as a cello you could get around pretty well because you wouldn’t be too small, but almost human size. It’s very flexible and it’s got a beautiful voice. If I’d be an instrument, I’d want to be a cello. Can I ask you the same thing?
Shannon: My answer is cello too. So funny. I actually got asked this question in an interview in Copenhagen and I loved it so much. And my answer was cello too. There’s just something about it. Scientifically, it must be something like that the body is in tune with its frequency or an explanation like that. It could be the size too. It’s very human.
Mikal: Shannon, if you could have one unusual pet, what would it be?
Shannon: It would either be really small, like a tiny monkey, or really big, like a giraffe. If I’d have the space, I’d go with a giraffe. His name would be Jeremy. What would you have Mikal?
Mikal: A monkey is a really good answer. I can imagine that would be really fun. He can help you out and grab things for you. A small monkey though. Not a chimpanzee or something…
Wanna see some more of this wholesomeness live? This Thursday (February 20, 2020) at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, the doors will be open at 19:30. Shannon will sing her captivating songs at 19:45 and Mikal – if he still dares to play after her – will speed things up at 20:30. Maybe they’ll turn into cellos at midnight.
Tickets ///// attend on facebook
More tour dates can be found on both Mikal’s and Shannon’s websites and socials.
@mikalcronin ///// mikalcronin.com ///// facebook
@shanny2dope ///// shannonlay.com ///// facebook