Detroit singer-songwriter Shannon Barnes blends her love for future-soul and psychedelic-folk on her debut record, Psychedelic Flight Attendant. Released under the moniker of White Bee, PFA is a labor of love that took Barnes over two years to complete, and survived many peaks and valleys along the way. In fact, right before Barnes planned to start recording, she suffered a personal and band breakup, causing her to question if she’d be able to continue White Bee.
“To be honest with you it was really hard at first,” Barnes explains. “I didn’t think that White Bee could exist after all that. And then I realized, this is me, this isn’t anybody else. These are songs that I wrote and experiences that I had…the whole process of my writing comes from my learning and how I play guitar.” Barnes’ rhythmic guitar style is due in part to one of her biggest influences, Nai Palm, co-founder of Hiatus Kaiyote. She even credits Palm for inspiring her to learn the guitar in the first place.
“When I was 21 I just remember seeing a Hiatus Kaiyote video online for the first time,” Barnes says. “When I saw that, I was like, ‘that’s what I wanna fucking do.’ That was the reason why I picked up guitar.” Although Barnes’ musical journey started long before that, the last seven years have been an extremely formative time musically for the artist, who is now 27. Her appreciation for classic jazz vocalists along with more contemporary artists like Mac Demarco, Tame Impala, Lianne La Havas and Britney Howard is evident in her work.
Barnes leans heavily to syncopated rhythms on tracks like “Antihistamine” and “Beat State,” which could easily be used as historical bookmarks for the time that she first heard Nai Palm. She said that, for a moment, learning Hiatus Kaiyote guitar riffs and experimenting with songwriting was almost like a drug. “You know that feeling you get when you get excited to go on a date with someone or you get excited for going on a trip?” Barnes asks. “I feel like I had that feeling constantly – it was like all my serotonin levels were tingling all the time because I just wanted to learn more.”
That exuberance is translated into each of Psychedelic Flight Attendant’s eight tracks. The record takes the listener on Barnes’ journey through heartbreak, angst, chaos and resilience. It reminds us of the beauty that can come from loss or change, and shows us how appreciating someone else’s art can become the most important factor in producing one’s own.
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