We’ve discovered SHYAWAY (real name Adam Macaulay) while browsing Musosoup one day. I came across his latest single ‘Smile For the camera’ and I was totally captivated by the impact that the song and the video had on me. Even though at first it sounds like a fun and sarcastic song it actually leaves you questioning so many things that became norm.
SHYAWAY is based in Brighton, city we love, that is full of super talented musicians, many of whom we were supporting on our blog. I am extremely thrilled to share our conversation with one and only SHYAWAY.
Congratulations on your latest release ‘Smile For The Camera’. Looks like you’ve been busy in 2020. I already lost count of singles you released. Tell us about your journey before you started releasing music?
Thank you, I’ve had a good year in terms of putting out new material.
I joined my first band at age 12 and never looked back; I studied music both in college and at university and did a stint at various record companies, including Universal and Sony Music. I’ve been in quite a few groups as a bassist, guitarist and keyboardist, a few of which were ‘almost-bands’; getting a certain level of success and being scouted by labels, but dissipating before any big break came. It’s all been good experience though.
What does it mean to be launching your career during such a historic time?
It feels almost insensitive to be launching a new project when there’s so much happening in the world but at the same time, I found it good for the soul and stimulating for the mind to focus on something creative. I know many other musicians who have been doing it too and it’s kept them sane.
Also due to lockdown, there’s been plenty of time to focus on songwriting and ponder on how to present oneself aesthetically. Performing as a front-person is new territory for me too, so simply releasing music online this year has been a nice sugar-coated approach, before I plunge into the depths of live performance next year.
Out of all the singles you released so far, which ones are you most proud of?
‘I Wanna Disappear’ and ‘Smile For The Cameme’ are the two I’m most pleased with. They’re the closest to how I’ve wanted to express myself both lyrically and musically, and the production is nearest to what I heard in my head. I’ve already left behind some of the tunes I put out earlier in the year as they didn’t quite tick all the boxes, but they were still good stepping stones to where I am now.
Let’s talk about ‘Smile For The Camera’. Do you remember the moment the song was born?
I do – I was sat on my sofa one Saturday morning playing the guitar and the riff emerged fully-formed. I’d been listening to Yves Tumor’s latest album which has all these Prince-Esque affectations to it, and I was keen to do something similar. At first, it was just a bit of a goof, but after adding the bass groove and the drums, I felt compelled to finish it.
The lyrics are compiled snippets I’d noted throughout the year; just general observations and exasperations with the vacuity and levels of narcissism sometimes displayed on social media. It can be so unhealthy and it can sometimes be hard to look away.SHYAWAY
How did you come up with the idea for the music video?
A combination of flicking through YouTube and footage archives sparked the idea of using old toothpaste and make-up ads. The juxtaposition of those commercials against the beauty standards of today felt prevalent to the lyrical themes of the song.
What is your definition of beauty?
I know it’s a cliche, but for a person to be attractive they need to have an interesting mind. A person who has substance and takes an interest in things outside of their own sphere is far more attractive than one who’s aesthetically handsome but has nothing else to offer.
Taking selfies is fine and all, but not if it’s your main hobby.SHYAWAY
Would you say the beauty standards have changed for better or for worse?
They’ve definitely gotten worse. You’ve only got to look at the data for mental health amongst teens and people in their twenties to notice a marked upward trend in the levels of depression and unhappiness, particularly in personal appearance. But it’s not all surface level; current day ‘beauty’ is also attributed to how much a person’s net-worth is; how many Instagram followers they have; how many sponsorship deals they’ve attained, etc.
There seems to be this illusion amongst young people that mass popularity and money is the absolute pinnacle of life experience. However, the truth is that a person’s fame and riches is often a contributing factor to their mental deterioration.
Personally, I’d rather have just enough to get by and live in relative anonymity and hopefully, happiness.SHYAWAY
What would you advise to those who struggle with their body image and they simply don’t match the norm?
I say this as someone who isn’t at all comfortable with his own appearance and has often struggled with his visual identity; but learn to embrace the way you look, regardless of the features you don’t like or the perceptions you have of yourself. Those eccentricities are what make us unique. I can’t think of anything more boring than looking like just another model, as the vast majority seem interchangeable in terms of surface level. Or if there’s something about your appearance you want to change and you’re able to do so, money permitting, then go ahead and do it. Don’t let anyone else make you think it’s taboo or lacking in integrity to change your appearance. Do it if it will make you happier.
Being based in Brighton is that a blessing or a challenge? We’ve heard from other Brighton based musicians that it is well overcrowded and it becomes extremely challenging to stand out.
It’s true it can be challenging. Like you say; it’s brimming over with musicians, many of whom are super talented. So standing out from the pack means you have to be exceptional. That can be a good thing though, as it’s only too easy to be a big fish in a small pond. Brighton is a place that inspires you to push further. It’s also blessed that in non-Covid times, there are gigs happening every night of the week, so there are more opportunities to perform. The promoters are really passionate and care about the bands; often giving them support slots with touring artists. Thankfully, there’s very little of the ‘How many people can you bring?’ attitude.
People who crave fame should be asking themselves why they want it so badly.SHYAWAY
What you’d like to be remembered for?
Wow, that’s a big one. My musical output is what I’m most proud of so seems the likely choice, if a bit obvious. I’ll likely change my mind next week though.
Did lockdown have an impact on how you create music?
Not especially, as I do all my writing and a lot of the recording at home anyway. Though I suppose it gave me more time to focus on writing. Normally, my friend James (who plays drums on all the tracks) and I would go into the rehearsal room and fine-tune the songs, and sadly we haven’t been able to do that this year. We definitely will in 2021 though; he gives the tunes a lot more energy and suggests where improvements can be made.
Where do you find the inspiration for your music?
Listening to music all day, everyday inspires me. I listen to a wide array of genres and am a member of a few vinyl clubs which introduce me to music I’d otherwise never hear. Movies and TV shows are equally inspiring too, especially when it comes to mood or texture, something the visual medium excels at. Throw all of that into the melting pot and there’s never a shortage of ideas to draw from.
Do you have a song that when you hear it you’d say ‘Damn I Wish I’d Written That’?
It’s got everything; witty lyricism, a hooky chorus and an interesting structure which progresses through multiple phases. It never gets boring.
What is one piece of advice that you will never forget?
More a quote by an idol than a piece of advice given directly to me, but David Bowie once said in an interview:
Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.DAVID BOWIE
For anyone working in a creative realm, that’s sound advice.
What are your biggest musical influences?
There are so many, but the biggest ones are the aforementioned David Bowie, then Radiohead, These New Puritans, Perfume Genius and Arcade Fire.
How do you define success in the music business?
Success is in the eye of the beholder, but for me personally, just being able to make music long-term with enough people who are passionate about what you do, to support you in that endeavour.
Self-sufficiency is also one of my personal measures of success. I’m releasing music I’m proud of and doing it largely by myself. To have an army of people who hang on your every release would be wonderful, but it’s by no means the be-all-and-end-all. Like many musicians, I just aspire to make music I’d want to listen to myself. It’s for my own entertainment; I’d still do it even if no-one was listening.
What is the highlight of 2020?
In the grander scheme of things, ejecting agent orange from the oval office was a real positive. A collective sigh of relief was released around the world in November. Now I can only hope we’ll follow suit in the UK and oust our own pig-in-a-wig. There have also been other significant advances though, Black lives Matter being the obvious one. Of course there were many horrendous incidents surrounding those events but overall, it’s a positive movement which has gained serious momentum. Social media can be thanked for helping with that one.
In regard to SHYAWAY, reading the positive feedback from music bloggers has certainly been encouraging. It was easy to lose perspective during the pandemic, thinking I was spiralling down a rabbit hole and not liking anything I came up with, so receiving favourable reviews proved I hadn’t completely veered off the road. That goes for constructive criticism too. Those closest often tell you what you want to hear, but strangers aren’t necessarily going to be so kind. This helps one improve creativity whilst helping grow a thicker skin. Both are equally valuable.
What you got planned for 2021?
Performing live! I can’t wait to get back on stage again. SHYAWAY hasn’t played a show yet but when it does, I intend to use projections on stage; visuals which tie in with the music to enhance the live experience. It’s something one of my previous groups did and it really helped create an exciting atmosphere.
Make sure to connect with SHYAWAY
Have a listen to a special playlist INTRODUCING where we share music from all the artists we have interviewed so far.