By Lisa-Marie Rose
Photographs by Tony Bruce
With prodigal lead guitarist, Scott Brown, aged just 17 and Sharna-Mae, James Cook and Danny Brown (DJ Rockin’ Dan) only clocking in at a year or two older, it’s no surprise that this young band are bringing a fresh new energy, enthusiasm and passion for music to the rockin’ scene.
I talked to Sharna-Mae about inspiration, vintage style and what’s next for the band.
What is it about the rockabilly scene that first drew you to it?
My brother Scott and I grew up with rockabilly music around us because our Dad is a member of ‘The Hicksville Bombers’. As a singer, I’ve always studied the style of a lot of female artists like Imelda May, Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin and Loretta Lynn. Those women just blow me away! When I went to Sixth Form, I started to develop my own style and I started dressing 1950s – I haven’t looked back – I love it!
Do you mainly listen to ‘vintage’ rockabilly or are there any modern artists who inspire you?
As a band we listen to many different genres and we get inspired by a lot of artists. I love listening to great lyrics, which encourages us to try our best when we write songs. A lot of the modern rockabilly bands influence us. Our favourites are The Bellfuries, The Doel Brothers, The Hicksville Bombers, The Rhythm Shakers, Jack Rabbit Slim and The Neutronz.
Your first album is almost entirely self-written. How do you go about the writing process as a band?
It wasn’t an easy process but we had weekly song writing sessions to write the album. The guys and my Dad would sit with their guitars and me with my ukulele and we would write away. A lot of emotion went into our songs because they were based on personal experiences or stories that we wanted to write about, for example Little Bit Scared is about leaving home and starting the next chapter in your life.
Female musicians are still quite under-represented on the rockabilly scene, why do you think that is?
There are incredible male bands playing rockabilly music but there are also so many inspiring women that are brilliant musicians too. I look up to so many from either watching videos of them or watching them perform live; they make me the performer I am today. I will admit that I have had people say to me that they ‘don’t like female rockabilly singers’ but it will never stop me doing what I love.
If you could choose one living person or band to work with, who would it be?
That’s a tough question, there’s many people I would love to work with for different reasons. I have always been a huge Wanda Jackson fan and it would be a dream just to see her live let alone work with her!
What are your top five rockabilly songs?
Honestly, I can’t decide a favourite song, there’s so many, but lately James [drummer/singer/guitarist] and I have been non-stop listening to The Doel Brothers new album Empty Pot Blues. It’s brilliant!
You have a great vintage style. Do you have any tips for VL readers on recreating your look?
I love getting ready in the morning, doing my hair and make-up and choosing my outfit. I just wear anything I like and combine all the styles together from western to Mexican and more. I love jewellery and I can never leave the house without wearing a pair of earrings – my favourite pairs are from Splendette. I wear so many different brands but my favourite everyday clothes are from Morellos, Freddie’s of Pinewood and Geronimo Brand. I also shop on Etsy, eBay and in charity shops for my vintage clothing, so if you are just starting to get into the fashion, don’t worry about spending loads of money as you can easily find bargains.
You’ve achieved a lot in a short time with an album, some impressive support slots, a tour and BBC radio play. What are your ambitions for the future?
Thank you, my ambition is to never stop! I absolutely love gigging. At the moment we are still promoting our debut album Love Drunk. We are so proud of how well it’s done and the feedback has been awesome. We still have so many new ideas that we are working on, so stay tuned.
If VL readers want to come and see you perform live, where can they catch you?
We’ve got a lot of exciting gigs coming up this year and next. The best place to keep up to date is via our gig guide on our social media pages: Facebook @Sharna-Mae & the Mayhems, Twitter@sharnamaemayhem, Instagram@ sharnamaeandthemayhems