Without truly understanding what Shaun Kirk has endured to reach where he is today, it would be tempting to make a divine proclamation, after reaching for your biblical thesaurus, of a revelation or rebirth. However, the closest component in this story to a theological tale is of the demons Kirk has been fighting for a handful of years. His cyclical struggles are more positive than vicious these days. The birth of his new single, ‘Howlin’ at The Moon’, was born from a cluster of personal ordeals including his girlfriend unexpectedly leaving the country for an extended period to his own tumultuous inner conflicts.
“It ended up being related to what I’d been going through for the last couple of years, which was some pretty serious battles with my mental state. It fascinated me that you can be stuck in these vicious cycles and be unaware of it. It’s not until we become aware that we’re in that cycle that it all starts to make sense. But there are positive cycles too and that’s where I’m at now,” he explains.
‘Howlin’ at The Moon’ engages the natural human instinct of having to have the song worked out in the first few seconds. Where’s it going to go, and which pigeon hole does it fit in? It doesn’t, which says so much about its purpose and the place in which Kirk was in when he wrote it. Even the writing process took unexpected turns as he chiselled down to what the true core of the song was.
“It’s actually not a happy song, it’s pretty dark lyrics and has a pretty dark story behind it so why should it feel steady? It shouldn’t. So, it really needs to be unsteady for those lyrics to cut through more and that’s something I’ve started to really dive deeper into over the last couple of years,” Kirk explains.
“It’s meant to feel unsteady, it’s something I’ve been working on a lot in my music recently. People talk about rules in music, like there must be four bars here or there. Then I thought, no that’s kinda shit. Fuck that, I’m putting three bars here and one bar there,” he light-heartedly says.
Kirk’s hiatus from music brought him to a place, personally and creatively, which allowed him both freedom and self-acceptance to work with in his writing. The instability contrasts the confidence and tightly wraps the song into a story not just of hindsight but also what may come.
“I’ve spent time learning about values and goals and I’ve realised how much more important it is to stick to your values than to chase your goals. I’m at a stage where I’m more confident to chase the sound I want. I think early on when you’re an artist you do a lot of stuff for other people and you can end up going down a path which may not feel like yours. I think I’ve grown up a bit and I’m more confident to speak up,” Kirk recounts.
The single’s instability is balanced, to perfection, with Kirk’s confidence to distil his pain through the structural roving into the song. He is far from claiming self-discovery. Instead the last few years, as volatile as they may have been, have offered Kirk the map to his own path which he recognises as ongoing and yoyoing.
”Everything that I’d ever produced before ‘Howlin’ at The Moon’ was just searching, just floating in the water and hoping for something. I wouldn’t say that I’ve now found anything, other than some sort of formula that’s working for me. It’s exciting times.”
When & Where: Major Toms, Kyneton – March 23, Saints & Sailors, Portarlington – March 24 & Byron Bay Bluesfest – March 29 – April 2.
Written by James Mac