Perpetual Change — Shawna Virago Interview

| Sep 26, 2016
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shawnavirago_largeIt’s been a while since San Francisco musician Shawna Virago has been interviewed for TGForum. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy. Not only does she maintain an incredibly active live show presence out on the West Coast, but she has also toured Europe. Add to this the fact she has been working on her next album release, and you’ll understand just how committed to her music she really is. So, it’s with great pride that we present this interview with Shawna Virago.

TGForum: Tell me a bout your new project. How does it compare to your other release, Objectified? Also, do you have a working title for the project?

Shawna Virago: The new album is being finished and a title is forthcoming, but the album is a collection of 10 original songs. The album is stark and grounded in a sense of place . . . all the song inhabit the same world, a Sam Pekinpah car chase kind of world, a kind of defiant smiling toward the gallows.

TGF: Did you do a crowd funding campaign for this? That seems to be the trend now.

SV: Yes, I did my first ever Kickstarter campaign for this album and was very grateful for the support I received from my friends and community.

TGF: Who performed on the sessions with you?

SV: It’s a solo album. Just me, my guitar and my songs. Recorded by my friend Laura Dean. I added a handful of lead guitar on some songs but made sure it’s buried in the mix to give it a little bit of low-fi murkiness.

TGF: Have you done any more work with the Sean Dorsey Dance troupe?

shawna_virago_press3_bylydiadanillerSV: I toured to over 20 U.S. cities with Sean Dorsey Dance, doing a torch song as part of his last full-length concert, The Secret History of Love. It’s about the ways LGBT folks met and found love in decades past. I’ve been serving as their tour manager for their new tour.

TGF: In 2013 (the last time we spoke), you mentioned that you had toured Europe. Any more overseas tours of this sort in the future?

SV: Right now I’m hoping to tour select cities on the West Coast to promote the album. Wherever is feasible in a rental car and I can find a friendly couch.

TGF: I know you live in San Francisco, which is a lot more open to LGBT folks than most places, but I’m interested in knowing how much support you get from the TG community in general.

SV: There’s a long history of transgender political activism in the Bay Area and consequently, there are more civil rights protections here than in many parts of the country. Still, there is a lot of police abuse, homelessness and the destruction of many transgender communities, especially trans communities of color due to the hyper gentrification the Bay Area has been experiencing.

TGF: Do you have any plans for videos from the new project?

SV: Yes, I plan on promoting the album with videos and am in the planning stage of filming. I hope to put out a 7″ single and will make a video of that. First I need to get off my couch and put the bag of chips away.

TGF: This is a question I like to ask other musicians because I hear such interesting answers. What have you been listening to lately? What influences you musically?

SV: Lately I’ve been going back to my late ‘70s and early ‘80s California punk records, the records that always set my compass toward my personal lodestar. That music had elements of country and also was very political.

shawna_virago_press_photo1_bylydiadanillerTGF: Politics being what they are now, especially in an election year, how political are you personally? By that, I mean would you consider performing at a political rally? I know you’ve done a lot of shows for Pride related events, so politics really aren’t too much of a stretch when it comes to a ready made crowd.

SV: Political activism has been a big part of my life, especially around the issues of police accountability. For over twenty years I’ve performed at anti-prison industrial complex events and other left of center events.

TGF: Okay, back to the new CD project. What are your overall plans for the new CD?

SV: I’d like the album to connect with audiences that appreciate lyric based folk-punk, queer or otherwise.

TGF: When you perform live, do you use backing musicians?

SV: I always perform solo.

TGF: In closing, any final thoughts?

SV: Well, just thanks for the interview. People can reach me and say hello at my website.



Tritonal is actually Chad Cisneros and Dave Reed, both experienced song writers and producers. Painting With Dreams is their second studio project and features Adam Lambert on the project’s single release, Broken. Jenaux also is on that song.

Along with Jenaux and Lambert, Ross Lynch is featured on I Feel The Love, Shy Martin is on the title track, Painting With Dreams (Nothing Like Them), Steph Jones is featured on Blackout and Escape, and Fred Page is on Set It On Fire.

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While the overall project gravitates towards techno/dance/club material, there are some real surprises here. The project does contain some great instrumentals. It opens with Tela Vuota, includes the dance oriented Rewind in the middle of the project, and closes with the almost classical, New Age inspired Only Mortal, which is 10 minutes long and great way to close any project. This one tune is worth finding this album.

Other outstanding tracks are the single, Broken, the light rock inspired Set It On Fire, and the techno/dance Waiting For You.

When I found out that Adam Lambert was on this project, I expected that a) he’d be on more than one track, and b) the entire project would be another high energy techno/dance release. I was wrong on both counts. I always enjoy finding something I didn’t expect to hear on a project I’m unfamiliar with. The instrumental material alone fit that criteria for me. Tritonal definitely knows how to defy what could be unwarranted categorization. Tritonal is on tour now through the end of October. For more information, please check out their website. They’re also on FB, Twitter and Instagram.

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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