RISING STAR: Silhouette

Watch Silhouette perform at a public piano in Cotton Court*, and find out more about lead singer and songwriter Shauna Tohill

Who/what/why/where/when is Silhouette?

Well, Silhouette is an enigmatic alias that I use to essentially ‘hide’ behind. It is a solo project in many ways, but there are three awesome musicians/people in particular who help me out with live peformance and sometimes on recordings - Zarah Fleming (cello), Orla Rice (double bass) and Peter McCauley (drum kit/percussion). I play the piano, a little bit of guitar and sing.

I chose the name so the project could be adaptable and so that other instrumentalists could get involved. That way Silhouette would constantly be alive and new and never lonely. It started in late 2007 when my other band Angelfall split up – I wanted to experiment with different styles of music and follow my heart. The current line-up has been working with me on Silhouette since 2009. Using piano, cello and double bass I wanted to challenge the traditional pop/rock line up that I had been used to.

After winning a competition in Warrenpoint Battle of the Bands, Silhouette won a one-off single campaign, recording and release, with VM Records. The single, 'Volume Destroyed', was released in May 2010 and has been doing really well on radio and on YouTube.

Where have you been playing, and what has the reaction been to you as a female singer-songwriter in a scene dominated (at present) by high octane males bands?

I've been playing all over the country with Silhouette - with the band and solo - in café’s, art galleries and bars, as well as festivals like Glasgowbury. People don’t really look at Silhouette and think that I'm a stereotypical singer-songwriter as such. They view it more as a band project.

People are mainly supportive of what Silhouette do, but you do get the odd judgemental stare from both girls and boys who haven’t heard you yet. But I love the fact that my sound is a little different and that people are intrigued by the instrumentation and female dominated line up. Some people like that and others don’t. But it’s always great fun when people dance and sing along.

You played in Los Angeles recently. What was it like?

LA was great. I was flown over to represent ScoreDraw Music in an Irish showcase alongside White Mountain Music artists Michael Mormecha, Clown Parlour and Aaron Shanley. It was nerve wrecking knowing that there were film makers, publishers, managers and the like there. I felt ‘this is my chance to shine!’, but that’s what makes it exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Are there other female artists in Northern Ireland at present who have caught your eye?

There are loads of upcoming female artists who have heaps of potential and are great. I love to see Katie and the Carnival, Cara Cowan, Kerilee Hunter and Rachel Austin doing their thing. They are all very inspirational people.

Who have you been recording with, and where?

I've been recording with both Neal Calderwood of Manor Park Studios and Mudd Wallace of Homestead as well as tracking some of the things myself. Neal has been working with me on my singles and Mudd has been helping me with tracking and putting together pre-production for my EP and album next year.

There are obviously comparisons - Tori Amos, Duke Special. But which artists most inspire you in your work and in life?

I do really enjoy quite a lot of music so sometimes it is hard to pin-point which artists most inspire me. But the top international artists in my book would have to be Christian band Flyleaf, Deftones, Amanda Palmer, Regina Spektor and Radiohead. Locally I'm inspired by MojoFury, Clown Parlour, LaFaro, Fight Like Apes and the artist Helena Hamilton.

Your first single has already hit radioland. But what are you working towards?

Currently I'm working towards the new single – aiming to release in late November and I have been writing and developing ideas for an upcoming EP due to be released in February with a maximum of 4 tracks. I am also working on dates for a few showcases and UK/European tour in the new year. Hopefully I'll have an album together by February 2012 at the latest. So watch this space!

Check out Silhouette's MySpace page to listen to tracks and for more information on future performances.

*We would like to extend our gratitude to Marcus Music, Belfast, for the loan of a cello for this performance.