Dawn Shipley

Dawn Shipley - photography by Tonya Rodriguez
Dawn Shipley – photography by Tonya Rodriguez

Dawn Shipley

A french poet has once said that «the future belongs to women». I guess he was talking about the future of rockabilly?! Without Marti, Josie, Rosie, Cari, Dulcie that music will indisputably be like a body without some fresh and warm blood. Dawn Shipley is one of these rockin’ladies, a pretty texan gal leading a bunch of Californian fine musicians, some «sharp shooters» who turn her first album “Step it up” into a running fire of efficient rockabillies (a second one is comin’ very soon on ElToro Records and from what I’ve heard it will be brilliant too).
But let’s read how a girl can move from Winnie The Pooh to Patsy Cline?!

by Dave “Long Tall” Phisel and Fred “Virgil” Turgis
First published in 2007


The Rockabilly Chronicle So, how long have you been doing music ?
Dawn Shipley I started singing in church choir and playing piano before I can remember–when I was 3 or 4. Music was always a necessity in my life. This is my first band, though, which was started about 4 years ago.Do you still play piano today ?
I wish I did?! It’s difficult to have a piano when renting an apartment.

How did you get started ?
Dawn Shipley My family was always very musical. My grandmother plays piano by ear, so there was always music around, and we were always encouraged to make music. The piano became an outlet for me growing up, and I always enjoyed singing at the top of my lungs, making everyone around me look at me funny.

Do you remember the first record you bought and/or the one that made you think « Woahhh, that’s what I want to do ! «
Dawn Shipley Oh, I had tons of records when I was little?! I think I got my first little white and blue Fisher-Price record player for my 6th birthday. I had all kinds of records like the Grease soundtrack, My Sharona, Hey Mickey, etc, etc, along with all kinds of children’s records–Winnie the Pooh and so on. I was always playing (and scratching) them and singing along at the top of my lungs. And I always wanted to sing, but it wasn’t until I really listened to Patsy Cline in my early twenties that I knew exactly what I wanted to sing.

Its a long way from Winnie the Pooh to Patsy Cline. How did you discover her music ?
Dawn Shipley My mom listened to classic country (as well as many other things) when I was young, so it was part of my background. But I didn’t REALLY take notice of her until the mid-90’s when I was getting over my strictly new wave phase.

More generally, how did you become interested in rockabilly and all that rockin stuff ?
Dawn Shipley It was at the same time as I fell in love with Patsy’s style and strong voice. I kind of got bored with the new wave and was seeking something new and wanting to broaden my horizons. I started to go see some live bands (in Austin, TX–that’s where I lived at the time) that played a variety of early forms of music, and met people at those shows who got me into hillbilly, early country, swing and rockabilly stuff. Once I first was exposed to the stuff, I couldn’t get enough!

What are your influences as a singer and a songwriter ?
Dawn Shipley Patsy Cline has got to be the biggest influence on me. But there are so many others that have also influenced me–Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, Goldie Hill, Charline Arthur, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzel, Carl Perkins, and the list can go on and on…

On your website, to the classic “desert island record” question, you answer Patsy Cline, Marti Brom and more surprising any Clash . Do you have a punk background ?
Dawn Shipley Ha ha… That’s more from my new wave days. I do love what little Clash I have, but I probably wouldn’t include them if I had to answer the question again. There’s too much wonderful music out there (all types) that I don’t know what I’d choose! Hopefully I’ll never get stranded on a desert island?!

What about your band, where do they come from, were they in other bands before ?
Dawn Shipley Joel Morin, my guitar player, is from Michigan, and has played with Pep Torres, 3-Day Monks, Rebel Train, Original Sinners, just to name a few. Tony Macias, my bass player, is from Los Angeles, and has played with Pep Torres, Annette Valdes and more, and is currently also playing with The Rocketz. Tony DeHerrera, my drummer, grew up in the LA area as well (though was born in Tacoma Washington), and was in a punk band that I don’t know the name of back in his high school days. Currently he plays with the Vaquetones as well.

Do you remember the first show you played ?
Dawn Shipley Yes, our first show was in September of 2001 at Crazy Jacks which was in
Burbank, CA (part of LA for all intensive purposes). We opened for the Paladins

Dawn Shipley - photo © Tonya Rodriguez
Dawn Shipley – photo © Tonya Rodriguez

Does it change something being a woman on the rockabilly scene, is it harder ?
Dawn Shipley People have asked me questions like this throughout my life. I’m also a software developer, something else that is less common for women to do. I guess in someways, in every aspect of life being a woman makes things different. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. I think all in all, I’ve been lucky being a woman in the rockabilly scene, and for the most part, it’s been easier for me, though, of course, it’s always a challenge and a lot of hard work.

About your album, was it your first experience in the studio. Did you release anything before that ?
Dawn Shipley Yes, the debut album, Step It Up, was my first studio experience, and our first release.

Was it done live in the studio ?
Dawn Shipley Yes, for the most part it was done live in the studio. I lost my voice while recording and had to go back a couple weeks later to do the vocals for one song, but all the rest was done live.

What is the most memorable gigs you played and/or went to ?
Dawn Shipley We’ve had so many memorable gigs, it’s hard to pinpoint a few. It’s always a pleasure to get together with the Honeybees from Chicago and the Casey Sisters from Austin, TX to do our She Demons tours. We’ve only done one tour so far, but hope to get together again soon. We also have had especially good times playing the Rockabilly Ball in Seattle, Washington the last 2 years, and Viva Las Vegas 7.

What can you tell about the new album ?
Dawn Shipley The new album is almost done! We are currently mixing. There are 9 of my originals,1 instrumental (Joel gets credit for this one), a few covers, and maybe a bonus track. The cd is named «Baby If I…» and includes a wide range of songs, including a couple frantic rock ‘n roll tunes, a kind of jazzy number called «Crazy For Your Love,» some honky tonk tunes and more.

Will you have guests ?
Dawn Shipley There are no guests this time, just me and the ‘Shooters. It’ll be out on El Toro sometime soon–Winter, hopefully. You’ll just have to wait and find out on the rest of the details on your own, but I must say, I’m very excited about it?! I think we’ve grown tremendously since «Step It Up» and it shows.

A last word ?
Dawn Shipley I’d just like to say thanks, for doing the interview, and thanks to all the fans out there. I’m blessed to have all the support from everyone that allows me to continue doing what I love. It’s really what keeps us going?! And we hope to see you out there in France one of these days?!
Alright, enjoy, and take care?!

Dawn's albums are reviewed here.
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