We had the good fortune of connecting with Shawn Berry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shawn, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
This is an interesting concept considering the state of the world right now. I already worked from home with my current day job and so when the pandemic hit it really didn’t change my work life very much. However, now that I’m stuck at home even outside of my day job hours, its given me more time to work on my other projects, like my music and the YouTube channel I started recently. When I first started the YouTube channel last month, I was putting pretty much every spare minute I had into trying to build it up and get videos out there. However now that a little bit of time has passed I find myself struggling to get as many things done for the project, partially out of just being a little burnt out, and partially because when you have this much free time, it’s hard to self regulate. With that said, when you’re trying to build something up where you can work for yourself, you’re really on no one’s schedule but your own. The key is to not get discouraged when you fall off the horse for a bit. Get back up and get working when the motivation finds you.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started making music when I was a teenager and I’ve stayed steady with it all the way up through the present. Back in the day I was more concerned with having a band and playing shows, but as time has passed my interests lie more in recording music and visual representation online for people to consume. I have some social anxiety so my interest in playing shows has dwindled over the years, but presenting my work in other forms is really interesting and exciting to me. More recently I’ve been collaborating with other artists (mainly visual artists) in order to pair my work with theirs and create something unique to that combination. My brother has taken my most recent release under my GuestHouse moniker and turned it into a visualizer on YouTube which turned out really well. The next GuestHouse projects that I’ll be working on in the fall is going to be paired with a painting that I’ve commissioned by my friend Nicole. I think when I was younger I was concerned with everything about my projects coming from just me, and having complete creative control over everything from the production choices to the casual representation. Now that I’m older though, I’ve realized that there’s so much beauty in collaboration and having an extra set of eyes really opens up your possibilities. Music as a profession is a really hard path to take, which is why it’s more of a side project for me. Monetizing your music when you don’t actively tour is extremely difficult, so at the moment I’m using my skills as a musician in order to collaborate with others and also using it as a networking tool of sorts. I think the idea of “overcoming” the challenge of making music as a streaming musician is next to impossible for most people, so rather than trying to jump over a fence, I’m simply walking around it and creating my own path. If there’s anything that I want the world to know about my brand and story, it’s that I try and write and create art from a personal place and never try to force anything that I don’t really believe in. I find inspiration in everything from the greater issues going on in the world, to the way my cats zoom around my yard in the morning. I follow my intuition and never sacrifice the quality of my art for some idea of what someone else wants me to be. Be yourself, and see where that takes you. Often, it’ll be exactly where you want and should be.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend visiting from out of town, I would hope that they were coming during a nicer time of the year! Most of what I would recommend to a visiter is outside rather than inside. I think Arizona’s nature is really beautiful and there’s so much to explore. If we’re talking about in the city, I’d recommend checking out the botanical garden or the Zoo, and while you’re over there you could check out Papago Park. With that said, there are some really great things to do indoors as well. Crescent Ballroom is probably my favorite music venue in Phoenix. There’s always some really interesting shows going on there (in a normal world where we’re not in a global pandemic), and they also have some really great food to boot. The Phoenix Art Museum is great too if you’re into that sort of thing. If you’re looking for some smaller more DIY art stuff to check out, the All Puppet Players theater group puts on these amazingly wacky puppet shows (I know, but trust me). The shows I’ve seen from them include some hard R interpretations / parodies of Frankenstein, Friday the 13th, and Die Hard. Definitely don’t bring your children, but you’ll have a great time. The humor is excellent and they pretty much always play to a packed house. Music wise, aside from crescent and some of the other more brick and mortar music venues, I would try and see if you can get a hold of someone on Facebook or Instagram that could point you in the direction of a house show going on near ASU. There are tons of really talented, local DIY musicians that mainly inhabit the living rooms and backyards of people around the city and if you really want to tap into what’s next and where the real art is, try and check out one of those.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My brother Zane deserves a shoutout. He has started his own YouTube channel and in the spirit of giving shoutouts and supporting others, he hosts not only his own videos but projects by other people too. He directs music videos for local musicians and more recently he has started making really great video essays. Topics he’s covered so far include insights into the new Animal Crossing game, The Midnight Gospel on Netflix, and Tyler, The Creator’s album Igor. The Igor video has really picked up some steam lately in terms of views so I think he’s on to some bigger and better things soon. Go check out his channel (Tall Skeleton on YouTube), I’m sure you’ll find something you like.