An interview with Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum


AE: Yeah, it’s actually pretty interesting, when I interviewed Tami Hart of Making Friendz and Men, she told me she saw you in concert a few years back when she was a teenager growing up in a small town and she felt like your music saved her life.

SF: Oh wow! That’s awesome.

AE: Did you have any bands that made the same impact on you when you were just a 13-year-old sneaking out of the house?

SF: Yeah, definitely, I’d say those bands for me were like, Cocteu Twins and Bahaus, the Cure. Yeah, for sure, because when you’re a kid, it’s like that serious. You feel so alienated and freakish and that you don’t belong.

AE: Well, you said that you grew up in a Southern Baptist church — were you from the South originally?

SF: My family is from Mississippi but I was only there for a few years of my life when I was really small. Then we moved to Europe, we were in Italy for a few years and then back to the states and we lived in eastern Washington, where I grew up until I moved to New York in 2001.

Eastern Washington — it’s not the smallest town. It’s not like Iowa or anything but it’s pretty redneck but there was a lot going on and a lot of D.I.Y. stuff and punk shows. So, music was all — it was everything. It was my life. If it wasn’t for live shows and all-ages dance clubs I probably would’ve offed myself at an early age. [Laughs] I started going to punk shows when I was like twelve and would ride on my friend’s older brother’s shoulders and dancing around in the pit.

But, yeah, I can totally relate to music saving people’s lives. Lyrically, I try to keep things open so that people can see themselves in the music or the songs and relate to them, because that’s how I felt. The music that I grew up listening to that I really appreciated, it was like they were talking straight to me. They carried me through many dark teenage periods when I felt like a freak and didn’t fit in to any of the societal norms.

AE: At what point did you come out?

SF: I think it just happened. I think I was actually outed last year in Portland, Oregon through a magazine. After we did an art special that happens every summer in Oregon — I can’t remember what it’s called. There was a magazine, a gay magazine, that outed me. I mean, I’ve always done performance art and stuff, but I guess I never really thought about it.

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