Introducing: shano


[Photo Credit: Dan Norton, I’m Not Dan Norton]

Music is what life sounds like.

-Eric Olsen.


Some stories are just impossible to express in words. 

So, when New York producer Shane “shano” Harris wanted to tell his personal story, he opted for the only medium natural to him – music

His story manifested itself in his first solo LP A Butterfly In Boston, an album that relies on jazzy samples, soulful loops and a plethora of kicks-n-snares to document a tale of love, pleasure and eventual heartache. The free digital album is available here or here for a direct download link.

Recently, I got the chance to chop it up with shano in the wake of his debut. We discussed his approach, why the album takes place in Boston despite his New York roots, which producer he’d most want to observe in the studio, and what he’s going to do now that he’s told his first story.


Dom Corleone: Tell the people where you’re from and how old you are. 

shano: I’m currently residing in Astoria, N.Y. and I’m 25 years old. I grew up in a small town on Long Island called Sound Beach which I doubt anyone has heard of. So, it’s near the Port Jeff area.. North Shore of Suffolk County. 

DC: What originally got you into producing? A background in reading & playing music or was it something you just up and tried one day? 

s: Actually, I don’t play any instruments. I had to take music theory classes in college but my reading is very amateur. I can do it, but it takes me awhile.  In high school, I really fell in love with hip hop and some of the producers that were out at the time. 

I really felt like it was something I wanted to do. With the whole sampling aspect, I felt like I could find parts of old songs and rework them into something new. It was kind of a gradual “maybe-I-can-actually-do-this” type thing that just grew and grew as I went along.

 DC: So when would you say you started getting serious with it? 

s: In high school, I bought my first sampler and I was definitely the kid who bought things and didn’t use them. I just expected something to happen. Once I went away to college in ’01, I started to meet more people with the same interests and really got serious about it a few years after that. I can’t pinpoint the date, but I would say ‘03-04 roughly.

[Check the full interview after the jump]

DC: Sweet. Which sampler was the original purchase? Which leads me into my next question.. What equipment do you use today? 

s: The original purchase was a Roland SP-808 which, looking back on it, was not the best decision.  It was a very cool piece of equipment and I was just amazed at the D-Beam© technology.  It had a laser in it that you could put your hand in front of and change things! It was crazy to me, but it really wasn’t built for what I was looking to do.

DC: I see.

 s: After I sold that, I got a Korg Triton because I knew everyone in the game was using that. And following that was the best purchase, the AKAI MPC 2000XL.

 The sounds on the Triton were great but I didn’t really use it a lot and sold that, kept the MPC. That’s really the heart of what I use.  It’s that, reason for synths and other sounds, Pro Tools to record and I currently have a Roland Juno 106 synth as well.

DC: Nice! yea MPC’s set the standard, I assume it was exactly what you were looking for since you still rock with it.

Ss: Oh, absolutely. A friend of mine had one too and he really opened up my eyes to its capabilities. Ever since, I’ve mainly been working off of that.


DC: Dope. Was A Butterfly in Boston your first full-length project?

s: Yes, it was.

DC: So before that, you focused on building your sound to culminate in putting out this as your debut ‘body of work’ so-to-speak?

s: Well, I was working to build my own sound and create a library of beats in hopes to shop them somehow. But this album kinda came about from different circumstances. My original goal was to put out like an instrumental mixtape to just showcase different things I had done and offer it for free. But once I started compiling the tracks I saw the story and album concept unfolding and it just kinda worked out.

DC: What is the album’s concept? And you gotta fill me in on how you came up with the title. I assume they are interrelated.

 s: What I was trying to convey is a love story from beginning to end, or what may seem like an end at least. It starts with meeting, learning about each other, falling in love, then having things fall apart.

It takes a turn to where you’re unsure about it and it falls out and all that’s left is confusion and you don’t really know where to go from there. You maybe get over it and move on but part of you will always wonder what could’ve been. 

DC: Word! I can hear the storyline winding throughout. Even with minimal vocals, the message is there.

s: It was somewhat of an autobiographical story, I spent my college years in Boston. This person and I shared a bond through a story about butterflies and it just came to me one day. I felt like it had a good ring to it as well. And by “somewhat” [of an autobiographical story] I mean “completely,” ha. 

I’m really glad to hear that people can pick up on it, it’s hard to accomplish without lyrics.

DC: I had a feeling about the story itself but wanted to clarify. Well, an autobio is a great medium to convey a personal story. 

s: Definitely, it’s a very personal story. 

DC: How did you manage to accomplish this without any formal lyrics? How did you approach it?

 s: Well, a lot of the tracks I had started or at least worked on during the time I was in Boston. It’s weird but they just conveyed the emotion of what was happening at that point in time. I really had no plan to begin with but as I started the list of what i wanted to use, there were very few gaps to fill. I really just tried to create a timeline of the emotions that I had felt from start to end through this story. 

DC: The emotional journey is what I noticed right off the bat. The initial meeting, the build up of emotions, the sensual contact, and then the conflict arises on “The Prince & The Fox,” correct?

s: Yea it does. That’s pretty much exactly when.

DC: Okay, I’m on the right page here. I sensed a change in the emotions right about there, then the confusion of “And Her Heart Cried Out” is very powerful.

s: That one was actually what took me so long to finish the album. For the life of me, I could not find the correct drums to go with it. For over a year, I worked on it and just kept trashing what I started. I just wanted to show that anger that she must’ve felt and I really wanted it to be right. 

DC: Damn! That’s dedication right there. To revisit a track for that long and finally satisfy your vision.

s: It’s also very frustrating, ha. But I needed that to be on there and just had to wait until it was how I wanted it to sound. I would leave it alone for months and try to come back to it every so often.


DC: So, regarding the actual sound of the album. I hear many influences, from hip-hop to trip-hop to electro to jazz. I hear flashes of DJ Shadow, Thievery Corporation, even older jazz artists like Ahmad Jamal or Oscar Peterson. What are the typical samples that you searched for during the process? If you’re at liberty to discuss, of course.

s: I tend to stick to soul and jazz but I’m starting to branch out more into psychedelic rock and 80’s music. My method of record shopping probably isn’t the best but I like to shop by cover. If a cover intrigues me I’ll look further into the date. I tend to stay within the 70’s and early 80’s. This album is very sample heavy, there are only 3 tracks without samples.

DC: As a fellow jazz head, I definitely spot some quality ones within the LP. I also noticed that, even though the beats are used to tell the story, certain MCs would sound good rhyming over some of them. Are there any rappers today that you’d like to work with if you could? 

s: Oh, absolutely. Let’s see: Jay-Z, Ghostface, Andre 3000, Lupe, Common, & Nas. I’m sure there are more ha, which ones did you think of while listening?

DC: You pretty much just named 4 of my top 5 favorites!

s: Haha. Yea I was trying to go with my favorite that are still alive.

DC: I was thinking Doom would flow nicely over “Linden St” and guys like Phonte or even Jadakiss over “Burbank.” 

s: Yea, those are good ideas as well.

DC: Switching gears, Let’s talk producers. Who would you call your “Current Top 3” and which tracks do you like the best from each, respectively?

s: This is always going to be switching around. But currently, I would have to go with J Dilla, Kanye West, and Black Milk.

Black Milk’s “Long Story Short,” the intro to his album Tronic, just has those drums that make your head nod. I love it. 

How to pick just one for Dilla and Kanye? I don’t know. I think I would have to go with “Body Movin” for Dilla and for Kanye, “Flashing Lights.” 

DC: Dilla it’s practically impossible, given his robust catalog. Kanye, too.

s: Yea, exactly. It switches day to day. Then, there’s the Timbaland and Dr. Dre phases, ha. And Pete Rock, of course.

DC: Somehow, DJ Premier and RZA always comes up on my list, but it changes on the daily.

s: True, those are two more that you forget about until the iPod is on shuffle and you gotta go back and listen to everything they’ve done. 

DC: If you had the opportunity to work with any musician, dead or alive, for a day in the studio – who would it be and how would the session go?

s: It would have to be DillaI wouldn’t even work, I would just observe. I’d just want to see his techniques from listening to chopping to adding drums. I’d be a fly on the wall.

 As far as emcees rhyming on a track I produced, I’d have to go with Biggie. If I could craft something soulful enough.

 DC: I’ll wrap it up by talking about your future. I know your unsigned and grinding away. Since you just successfully put together A Butterfly In Boston, what’s next for shano? 

s: I’m not really sure, man. I’ve conceptualized album ideas so hopefully I can get them in the works. I want to try to expand the demographic who gets to hear this album as well. I spent money getting it mixed and whatnot but I wanted to give it away for free because i just want people to hear it ya know. I’m gonna continue to hit the blogs and see who is interested and who will post. 

I really need to dust the MPC off too and get back to new beats. There was alot of time spent putting this album together where I wasn’t really working on new things. 

And while its many years late, my roommate helped me come up with a good Jay-Z Black Album mash-up idea. But I can’t give anymore details away on that, ha. 

DC: It sounds like you’ve got a plan. Promote the new CD as best you can then work hard on another one that people will get excited for once they hear Butterfly.

 s: Yessir, that is the goal. 

DC: Will you be releasing the next project independently again or will you try to link with a label this time around?

s: More than likely independent. I’m going to try to put together packages to send to a couple of labels but I like to keep it realistic. If it got to that point though, I would be ecstatic. 

DC: Sounds like this is the start of something big. You’ve got the foundation laid, just need to build now.

s: I hope so man. 

DC: Any shout outs or anything else you’d like to say before you go?

s: I’d like to thank you and Hold the Throne, Adam at Broken Cool and any of the other blogs that check it out. Thanks to Michael Ingber for mixing the album, check out his MySpace page here. My roommate Mark for hosting and helping with the album cover, you can download the album for FREE at http://www.louismgrafix.com/abib.

 Thank you to my inspiration for this album.. And Happy Birthday Grandma, ha!

Download A Butterfly In Boston here for free, you can contact shano at lowendmusic@gmail.com.

3 Responses to “Introducing: shano”

  1. June 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Dope interview, gonna peep the lp shortly. I hear a lot of good things about the MPC 2000xl

  2. June 23, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    the interview was great…

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