Shaun Novak Interview

Shaun Novak is one young artist who won’t quit. After a tough but educational decade working in the Pittsburgh music scene, he decided to strike out on his own and form a new path. While Shaun writes, records, and mixes his own material, he has also created Shaun Novak Entertainment, a hub of helpful services for artists within the local Pittsburgh area. Shaun has combined his business degree from Penn State with his years of musical knowledge to create a unique industry standard. We had the pleasure of interviewing this driven musician and entrepreneur to find out what makes him tick. By Joshua Forrest   
Cliché: Firstly, congrats on the release of your single! How does it feel to release a song you’ve had written/performed for seven years?
Shaun Novak: Thank you so much!  It almost feels surreal at this point, honestly.  There was a time a few years ago when I felt like it was time to move on from this song.  I had been performing it for so long, it just seemed like it had grown old and it would never get a proper release. When I first started thinking about the album and potential singles, “Midnight” wasn’t even on the list. It wasn’t until a conversation with Allyn Lewis that the song became the focal point of the album. The original title for the song was actually “You Can’t Order Me Not To Dream,” which has now become the title for the album. To hear how the song has evolved over time, originally being much more pop-punk influenced, reminds me how much I’ve grown as an artist over the last seven years.
What was the local music atmosphere like in your hometown?
Not suited for me. [Laughs] When I first broke into the local scene as a vocalist, I was fronting a pop-punk band in a predominantly hardcore scene. We did have success, but we could only get people to hear us if we were booked with hardcore/metal bands because those were the only shows people would come out for. After a few years, I began fronting a new band that had more of an alternative rock style with hardcore influences. By that time, the local scene was all but dead. The only other bands left were straight metal, and shows were few and far between. No one cared anymore. It was sad, honestly. When I was younger, the scene was thriving with a lot of talented pop-punk and alternative bands. Today, I can’t even really say there is a local music scene anymore.
You mention you’ve played in a few bands in the past. At what point did you decide you wanted to work on a solo career?
I’m not sure it was as much of a decision as I felt it was necessary.  Between the local scene fading away and differences with band members, I felt like I was on a sinking ship. If I wanted to have any hope for a future in music, going solo was my best option.  It’s been a little over two years since I gave up on the band life, and I can honestly say that I felt completely lost for at least the first year. For about twelve years, all I knew was how to be in a band. Trying to figure out how to make everything happen on my own was overwhelming. Responsibilities were always shared amongst band members and now everything was on my shoulders. Luckily, thanks to some help, I’ve started to adapt to the changes and get used to being a solo artist. It’s not easy, and there are definitely times when I miss having bandmates to share responsibilities with or to bounce ideas off of, but I know that this was ultimately the best career decision I could have made.  The great thing about being a solo independent artist is having full creative control over the music I make. I always have so many ideas swimming through my head, and oftentimes they didn’t fit the style of a band or other members weren’t open to certain ideas. I love being able to write a song in whatever style of music I’m feeling that day.
You’re the first artist I’ve seen that produces, mixes, and masters their own work. Where did you pick up those impressive skills?
Those are all skills I’ve basically just picked up along the way on this musical journey. When I was in high school, I played guitar for a band that my older brother sang for. We recorded a couple small EPs and I was really fascinated with the recording process. When it came time to record our third, we decided to do it ourselves. My bassist and I took charge of the project with very little knowledge or experience about what to do. A lot of experimentation/trial and error went into that EP, but it turned out decent. From there, I was hooked. I started recording myself to get more experience with where to place microphones. Then I spent a lot of time working on the mixing and mastering processes; a lot of experimenting and reading books/internet articles were involved here. When I started singing in my first pop-punk band, one of our guitarists had gone to a recording school in Ohio, so I learned a lot from him as well. Everything we recorded in that band, and the band that followed, was self-recorded. I love working on all the little things that go into making a recording. It’s great because there’s not just one set way to do anything. You get to experiment with all these small elements until they come together as one big piece of art. I learn or figure out something new every time I work on a recording, and that’s why I love it so much.
Could you explain some of the services and opportunities Shaun Novak Entertainment provides to artists?
Currently, we offer social media management services for bands and artists. From personal experience, I know how difficult it can be to keep up with social media while tackling all the challenges that come from being in a band or making music in general.  However, it’s absolutely necessary in today’s day and age, so SNE helps take that stress away from artists. We also offer opportunities to help bands and artists get more exposure on our platforms through different series and website content. In the near future, I’m planning on offering mixing and mastering services for artists in need, as well as debuting some new series to help create some new, unique showcase opportunities.
Do you plan on collaborating with/producing for any of the artists you work with in SNE?
Absolutely!  I’m looking to get a few collaborations for my album, and I’m always open to collaborating with other artists. I enjoy every style of music, and I love when different styles are able to come together and mesh well. As for producing, it’s definitely something I’d like to get into soon.  It’s not something that’s really been discussed yet, but, once this album is finished, it’s something I’m going to heavily pursue.
Do you have any big plans for the release of You Can’t Order Me Not To Dream?
I definitely have some exciting things planned!  I’m not really able to discuss any of them quite yet. All I can say for now is to stay tuned, and I promise a lot of fun things are on the way soon!
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Shaun Novak Interview: Photographed by BNP Photography

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